Last Minute Appeal Stops Execution

By: Koula Gianulias
By: Koula Gianulias

The mother of murder victim Brian
Pierce emerged from the Nevada State Prison to say she's washing
her hands of Robert Lee McConnell, her son's killer who was granted
a last-minute stay of execution Thursday night.
"From this moment forward he will be dead to me forever,"
Pamela McCoy told reporters minutes after she learned her son's
killer would live. "I cannot allow his lies to control my life
anymore."
McConnell, 33, was to die Thursday at 9 p.m. As a "volunteer"
who had refused to appeal his sentence, he was free to stop the
execution at any time. At 8:26 p.m., a judge signed a stay
requested by McConnell.
Prison officials said they suspected all along McConnell was
playing games and manipulating the system for attention.
McCoy, holding a prepared statement in her shaking hands, said
she had tried but could not learn to trust the man who shot and
mutilated her 25-year-old son, and kidnapped and raped his fiancee.
"I also thought that I saw another side to him but I also was
sucked into his evil lives," said McCoy, flanked by several family
members and friends who had come to witness McConnell's death.
"He calls other people cowards but he is the coward who hides
in the dark to kill, rape, hurt or torture and then he's not man
enough to accept his punishment."
McConnell has written letters of apology to his victim's family,
and McCoy said, "I wanted to trust him like you do normal human
being, but obviously you just can't."
Across the street from the prison, death penalty protesters who
had huddled around lit candles said the news of McConnell's stay
was a relief - but only a small one.
"I'm glad, of course," said the Rev. Ruth Hanusa, a Lutheran
pastor. "On the other hand, it's such an emotional yo-yo for the
family on both sides."
The Rev. Chuck Durante, a Catholic priest and another death
penalty opponent, said he too felt conflicted.
"I don't know how to react, exactly. The state is not putting
someone to death in my name - at least now," he said. "My fear is
now ... that we're going to be back here again."
McConnell will return to death row in the Ely State Prison and
will begin an appeal process that can take years.
But McCoy said she hoped this would be last time she would be
put in the spotlight.
"Now he's going back to his grave in the Ely state prison.
There will be no more media attention," she said. "And I hope
that when his appeal makes it through the system that he will be
already dead to the media, too. I know this sounds harsh and ugly.
Maybe I'm back to square one with anger and bitterness - but I will
go forward."


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