Georgia And Florida Bishops Speak Against Death Penalty In Priest's Killing

Jan 31, 2017

Catholic church officials are urging a Georgia prosecutor to reverse a decision to seek the death penalty against a man charged with killing a Florida priest.

The Augusta Chronicle reports Bishop Felipe J. Estevez of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla., Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer of the Diocese of Savannah met briefly Tuesday with acting District Attorney Hank Sims in Augusta, urging him not to seek the death penalty if Steven Murray is convicted of murder in the April killing of the Rev. Rene Robert.

At a news conference before the meeting, the bishops noted that Robert left a signed and notarized "Declaration of Life" saying that if he were to suffer a violent death he wouldn't want the person responsible to be executed.

Former district attorney Ashley Wright, now a judge, says she considered the facts and the aggravated nature of the slaying when she decided the crime merits capital punishment.