Death penalty and truth

Have we completely lost our ability to differentiate between right and wrong? It appears all too clear that we have, as GW was once again host to a forum that sought to make a hero out of a cold-blooded murderer.

Last week, the GW Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the International Socialists organized yet another event that disputed the death penalty by glorifying Tyrone X. Gilliam, a convicted killer. In the process, they have brought shame to the memory of the victim as well as to our University.

Organizers of the event, which featured a live satellite feed of Gilliam from death row, used the forum to decry the death penalty as racist and unjust. Indeed, Gilliam himself implored the audience to understand that he is “a human being” and that it has been hard for him to wake up “anticipating death.”

What the organizers failed to mention, however, is the reason why Gilliam is on death row. So let’s set the record straight.

Gilliam shot Christine J. Doerfler in cold blood with a shotgun at the end of a secluded road, ending her short 21-year life.

Her crime? She saw his face during a robbery that netted him $3.

Gilliam wants us to understand he is a human. What kind of human ruthlessly takes the life of an innocent young girl and then expects our pity? He says it is hard for him to wake up anticipating death. Should we feel compassion for him when Christine will never wake up again?

My pity for Gilliam dwindles even further when I sadly wonder how difficult the murder must have been for Christine’s parents, who will never see their daughter again.

Unjust? The organizers also fail to mention that Gilliam has had four court hearings, all with different judges and juries. He was first found guilty in a trial court. This verdict was affirmed after an initial appeal and reaffirmed in subsequent state and federal appeals. Gilliam has received his day in court four times over.

Racist? Gilliam could have been green and it wouldn’t change the reality that he murdered Christine Doerfler. Race wasn’t an issue when he killed her and wasn’t an issue in his sentence.

Christine J. Doerfler was young enough to be a GW undergraduate at the time of her murder. I can only wonder how the organizers of this event would feel if it had been one of their close friends instead. Would they still have chosen to glorify their friend’s murderer?

I am simply puzzled and disgusted that of all the possible causes to fight for in the world, members of the International Socialist Organization and the GW Campaign to End the Death Penalty have once again chosen to devote their time and energies to support a killer while his victim’s friends and family live day after day without the love and friendship of their beloved Christine. Shame on them.

-The writer is chair of the GW College Republicans.

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