Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Archbishop Chaput Credited for Death Penalty Vote

The Colorado House yesterday voted 33-32 to repeal the state's death penalty. The measure now goes to the Senate. An interesting bit of drama occurred on the floor during the vote and only the Durango Herald has picked up on it, my emphases:
Debate lasted only a few minutes Tuesday, apparently because most of the 65 representatives had made up their minds. All except Ed Vigil.

The freshman Democrat from Fort Garland sat still as the House's electronic board tallied the vote - a 32-32 tie.

Vigil, a former district attorney's investigator, thinks the death penalty is a useful tool. In a 2007 case, Jose Luis Rubi-Nava confessed to killing his girlfriend in Douglas County by dragging her behind his car. The threat of the death penalty secured Rubi-Nava's plea, Vigil said.

"As soon as the death penalty became part of the equation, he pled guilty and got a life sentence," he said.

But Vigil also was thinking about moral appeals he had heard, including from Archbishop Charles Chaput, the senior Roman Catholic clergyman in Colorado.

Vigil bit his lip and ran a hand back through his hair. Other House members stood up and looked his way as a silent minute dragged by. At last, he reached across the desk and pushed the green button for "yes."

The death penalty repeal passed 33-32.