Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Murder victim's father speaks on forgiveness

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
By Sally Kalson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Rev. Walter Everett, who forgave the murderer of his 24-year-old son, Scott, will speak at a number of Pittsburgh religious venues Thursday through Sunday about how forgiveness gave him peace.

His visit is sponsored by Pittsburgh Faith in Action on the Death Penalty, an interfaith initiative whose Protestant, Catholic and Jewish members have called for a moratorium on executions until the justice system's flaws can be corrected.

The Rev. Everett, pastor of St. John's United Methodist Church in Sunbury, Northumberland County, says his opposition to the death penalty was academic until the 1987 shooting death of his son in Bridgeport, Conn. Grief and rage were destroying him, he says, until he was moved to forgive the killer. He has since befriended him and says the man's life has been transformed by God.

The Rev. Everett will speak at nine sites, including Sacred Heart in Shadyside, St. Paul's United Methodist Church in McCandless, Ahavath Achim Congregation in Carnegie and Monumental Baptist Church in the Hill District. For locations and times, call 412-784-1677.

According to Faith in Action, Pennsylvania has 225 people on death row, making it fourth in number behind California, Texas and Florida; the state also has the highest percentage of minorities (70 percent) awaiting execution.

Some 90 percent of those on death row are poor, often lacking an adequate defense. Pennsylvania is one of only two states that do not fund public defenders, shifting the cost to counties that may not have many resources of their own.

To date, six death-row inmates in the states have been released after they were found to have been wrongfully convicted.

First published on October 9, 2007 at 12:00 am
Sally Kalson can be reached at skalson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1610.

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