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Catholic Conference Applauds Jury’s Decision in Death Row Case

Frankfort, KY (August 2, 2002) – A Whitley County jury’s verdict acquitting Larry Osborne of the December 1997 murder of Sam and Lillian Davenport is yet another compelling reason to abandon the death penalty in Kentucky. The jury’s decision clearly brings additional doubt and questions about the integrity of Kentucky’s capital punishment system.

Fr. Pat Delahanty, a policy analyst with the Catholic Conference, said, "The jury’s decision shows once again how human error and weak evidence can wrongfully sentence people, including juveniles, to death."

Yesterday’s dramatic reversal resulted from the Kentucky Supreme Court’s review of Larry Osborne’s conviction in 1998, when the trial judge allowed the jury to listen to "hearsay" testimony of another juvenile and alleged accomplice, 15 year old Joe Reid. In a bizarre twist, Joe Reid died in a swimming accident after providing his testimony to a Whitley County Grand Jury. Appeal attorneys argued successfully that this was inappropriate because the prosecution’s key witness could not be cross-examined.

Fr. Delahanty stated, "Larry Osborne has been living with a death sentence for the past three years and this is yet another example of a broken system that can’t be fixed. Kentucky must abandon the death penalty as twelve other states have done, including our neighbor West Virginia." The Catholic Conference will continue to seek legislation abolishing the death penalty in the state.

The Catholic Conference of Kentucky supported legislation in the 2002 General Assembly to end the use of the death penalty for juveniles. House Bill 477, sponsored by State Representative Robin Webb, would have eliminated the death sentence for juveniles. According to Fr. Delahanty, "the Church’s opposition to all executions serves to reaffirm our humanity in the face of inhumane behavior."

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Catholic Conference of Kentucky

1042 Burlington Lane

Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

502-875-4345 502-875-2841 Fax cckstaffATccky.org

Last modified: October, 2010