Lawmakers aim to abolish Kentucky's death penalty - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Lawmakers aim to abolish Kentucky's death penalty

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FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Two state lawmakers said Wednesday they would file legislation seeking to do away with Kentucky's death penalty, although leaders of both parties said they opposed the plan.

Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, and Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, cited financial, spiritual and judicial concerns for abolishing capital punishment.

"I hope this is the year that we do the right thing," Neal said, adding that the high cost of death penalty trials compared with life imprisonment cases wastes state resources.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said they supported maintaining the state's death penalty, questioning whether the proposal would even get a legislative committee hearing.

"Not if I have my way," Stumbo said, when asked if the measure could come up for a vote this year.

"If it gets here (to the Senate), I can tell you that I am opposed to abolishing the death sentence," said Stivers, who has tried capital punishment cases as an attorney and said the higher cost is necessary to ensure justice.

Only one person has been involuntarily executed in Kentucky since the death penalty was instituted in 1976, Floyd said.

Ruth Lowe, whose brother was murdered in Louisville's West End in the mid-1980s, said she at first wanted revenge against the two men convicted of the crime. Time and her Roman Catholic faith have allowed her to change, she said.

"I learned to forgive. I didn't ever think I would do that," Lowe said. "Revenge is not the answer. I want people to know that we have to be the better people."

Lowe attended a Wednesday news conference to support abolishing the death penalty. Michael Von Allman, a Louisville man whose rape conviction was overturned in 2010, also opposed capital punishment.

"Why would we come down on the side of possibly executing an innocent person?" Von Allman asked. The Louisville man never faced the death penalty, but spent 11 years in prison and another 16 on parole before a court exonerated him.

Neal, who admitted the legislation had an "uphill climb" in the legislature, said he would also file a resolution seeking to create a task force to study the costs of administering the death penalty.

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