There are Colorado and Nebraska editorials endorsing repeal. The Boulder Daily Camera publishes, "Lost lives: Wrongful convictions good reason to oppose death penalty." It's written by Erika Stutzman for the Camera editorial board.
The photographs are haunting.
A defeated-looking slight man in New York City in 1990, flanked by big-shouldered detectives charged with solving a terrible, high-profile murder in a city wracked by crime. A beloved rabbi -- an Auschwitz survivor -- was murdered by a gun-wielding carjacker right around daybreak, right in the middle of a city street.
David Ranta, a petty thief, was sentenced to more than 37 years in prison, despite no physical evidence linking him to the crime and a trial that was even questionable at the time. Reporters who covered the case reported the car that took him off to serve his sentence was surrounding by Jewish mourners, who pounded on the car and chanted "death penalty!"
Ranta, 58, walked out of a courtroom on Thursday a free man. He served more than two decades in prison, even as it became clear over the years that he was not guilty of the crime. The picture of him has changed. His full head of blond hair has thinned and grayed, his defeated visage replaced by bewilderment.
A witness to the shooting, who looked at the shooter right in the face, said during the original trial he was 100 percent sure Ranta was not the gunman. The kid who picked him out of a police lineup recanted, saying he was coached by the detectives to pick Ranta; a few others, mostly criminals, said they lied and were persuaded to do so.
We can acknowledge that sometimes, rarely, someone is wrongfully convicted of a terrible crime. We can acknowledge that the stress and horror of a wrongfully convicted person being sentenced to death is somehow worse or worth more in compensation than if the sentence were lighter.
The next step should be to repeal Colorado's death penalty. The justice system is run by human beings, who are fallible. There are several reasons to oppose the death penalty; the very idea that the state could kill an innocent person is the biggest one.
In Nebraska, the Lincoln Journal Star publishes, "Don't risk executing an innocent."
For many years, the debate over whether to repeal the death penalty was a stylized event in which the arguments remained much the same.
Things changed when DNA evidence came into use.
Through the use of the new technology, people began to realize just how fallible the criminal justice system is. To date, 18 people who have served time on death row have been released.
Nebraskans have seen time after time in the past few years how serious errors can occur in the criminal justice system.
To cite one example, the Beatrice Six were released from prison after DNA evidence showed that another man had committed the murder that led to their convictions.
This year, senators should consider the new evidence. The chance that the state could execute in innocent person is not theoretical. There are flesh-and-blood former inmates of death row living today who can look a person in the eye and testify that the possibility is real.
The only way to eliminate the risk is for state senators to add Nebraska to the list of 18 states that have eliminated the death penalty.
More on the case of David Ranta in this ABA Journal post, "After case is re-examined, man imprisoned for 23 years is released and has a heart attack," by Debra Cassens Weiss.
A prisoner who was freed last week in a re-examination of his homicide case is now in a hospital bed after suffering a heart attack the second day after his release.
David Ranta, 58, was freed on Thursday after serving 23 years in prison, report the New York Times, the New York Daily News and ABC News. After his release, he ate “a manly meal” of steak and “probably everything else on the menu,” his sister told the Daily News on Friday.
On Friday evening, Ranta experienced pain in his back and shoulders and felt very hot, his lawyer, Pierre Sussman, told the Times. He was taken to a New York hospital, where doctors found a complete blockage of one artery and a half blockage of another.