US death row inmate executed despite cardinal's pleas

The Governor of the state of Maryland rejected a high-profile plea from Baltimore's Cardinal William Keeler, and convicted murderer Wesley Baker was put to death by lethal injection on Monday.

CLICK HERECatholic News Service reports that Baker became the 1002nd person to be executed in the United States in the past 30 years and the fifth in Maryland.

Cardinal Keeler had visited Baker on death row exactly one week before his execution, using the dramatic gesture to ask Ehrlich for mercy. The cardinal had also joined Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington and Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, - whose dioceses include parts of Maryland - in signing a letter petitioning the governor to commute Baker's sentence to life without parole.

"I appreciate the sincerity and thoughtfulness of the arguments presented to me on Mr. Baker's behalf," said Ehrlich in a statement. "After a thorough review of the request for clemency, the facts pertinent to this petition and the judicial opinions regarding this case, I decline to intervene."

On the night of Baker's execution, Ehrlich said his sympathies were with "the families of all those involved in this heinous and brutal crime."

Richard Dowling, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, said he deeply regretted the governor's decision.

"We'll just have to keep working toward the day when death is not viewed as the antidote to death - when mercy is the more appropriate, more Christian response to violent crime," said Dowling, who represents Maryland's Catholic bishops in the state capital, Annapolis.

Baker was sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of Jane Tyson in front of two of her grandchildren at a Baltimore County mall. At the time of her death, Tyson was preparing to enter fully into the Catholic Church.

Many members of the religious community used the days leading up to the execution to pray for mercy and for an end to the death penalty.

Maryland inmate executed despite cardinal's pleas for mercy (Catholic News Service 7/12/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Baltimore | Cardinal Keeler asks for Mercy | A Prayer for Mercy
A Culture of Life - US Bishops Statement on the Death Penalty (US Conference of Cathoilc Bishps 18/11/05 - PDF)
Community of Sant'Egidio - No to the Death Penalty
Sister Helen Prejean

Executions today also in USA (CathNews 2/12/05)
US Bishops statement calls for rejection of death penalty (CathNews 17/11/05)

Maryland Executes Woman's Killer (Washington Post 6/12/05)

8 Dec 2005