Wrongly accused dads want death penalty repealed

January 14, 2011 8:42:15 PM PST
As Gov. Quinn decides whether to sign a bill abolishing the death penalty, two fathers wrongly accused of killing their daughters hope to influence his decision.

"It's just not right, it's inhumane," said Jerry Hobbs.

Hobbs spent five years in jail -- accused of killing his 8-year-old daughter, Laura, and her friend, 9-year-old Krystal Tobias -- before DNA evidence cleared him.

Kevin Fox spent eight months in jail, charged with killing his 3-year-old daughter Riley, before DNA evidence set him free.

The fathers, who could have been on death row, denounced the death penalty on Friday.

"They're in an isolated cell," said Kevin Fox. "It takes years. They come up with the death penalty, get sentenced with the death penalty, but it takes years for that to enforce. It's by needle, it's like them going to sleep. There is no suffering."

"That leaves the victims here to suffer while they get the easy way out," said Jerry Hobbs.

Victims' families do suffer, like Cindy McNamara. Her daughter's killer is on death row, and she wants him put to death.

"I'm looking past this world into the next, and I just feel the sooner that he leaves this world, his punishment and suffering will start," McNamara said.

Gov. Quinn has 60 days to make a decision.

Fifteen states and Washington, D.C., do not have the death penalty.

This weekend, in Chicago, there is hope Illinois will become the 16th state.

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is having its national convention in Chicago right now, and former death row inmates who've been exonerated, including Randy Steidl, have sent a letter to the governor.

"If you can't be 1,000 percent perfect on knowing who you are strapping to that gurney, you can't have this system in place when there is an alternative of life without parole," Steidl said.

Their letter urges the governor to sign this legislation, but Cindy McNamara wrote her own letter as well, hoping the governor will not sign the bill.

Both sides are hoping to have meetings with the governor, too. The governor's office would not comment Friday night on whether that would happen.