NYCLU Expresses Shock and Sadness at Death Penalty Sentence, Pledges Support for Appeal

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
January 30, 2007 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The New York Civil Liberties Union today expressed shock and sadness at a federal jury’s decision to impose a death sentence in New York.

“The death penalty will not restore the lives of the two dedicated police officers that were so wrongly and tragically taken,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “Resorting to the death penalty, no matter how heinous the crime or how contemptible the defendant, is an affront to civilized society.”

Ronell Wilson was convicted in December of 2006 of the murder of two undercover New York Police Department detectives in 2003. This terrible crime took place in New York, but – because New York’s death penalty statute has been ruled unconstitutional – the federal government chose to prosecute. According to the NYCLU, this is one of many cases in which the federal government has prosecuted a local murder in an end-run around state law that does not permit capital punishment.

The NYCLU will support legal efforts to reverse the death sentence. If the death sentence is not successfully reversed, Wilson could become the first individual to be executed in New York State since 1963 and the first to be executed in a federal death penalty case in New York State since Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed in 1953.

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