I-Team: A Closer Look at the Death Penalty in PA

LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) If the jury finds in favor of the death penalty for Eric Frein -- some ask the question if his execution would ever be carried out? As of April 3rd, there were 171 inmates on Pennsylvania's "Death Row"-- but the state has not executed an inmate since 1999 and has carried out only three executions since 1976. The I-Team's Andy Mehalshick talked with legal experts about the status of the death penalty in the Keystone state.

Andy spoke with a prosecutor and the defense attorney who faced off in the trial of one of this nation's most infamous killers..George Banks..

September of 1982, George Banks of Wilkes-Barre goes on a shooting rampage killing 13 people including five of his own children. He was convicted and sentenced to death and sat on death row for more than 30 years until a court ruled him mentally incompetent to be put to death..saying it would be cruel and usual punishment.

Robert Gillespie prosecuted Banks and says if there was any crime that screamed for the death penalty it was the banks case."If you saw what i saw when we went into banks house and saw the little children that were murdered you'd understand why you think there are times when the death penalty is the most appropriate remedy for society."

But Gillespie thinks the Commonwealth's appeal system delays justice for the victims way too long..

"We have to revamp the system because if the death penalty is going to be imposed it should be imposed, otherwise we are wasting time and wasting money."

Al Flora defended Banks, he still has the court sketches in his office. He believes the death penalty should not be imposed on anyone. "The flaws in the system are just so great that to sentence somebody to death in this day and age and it will most likely be reversed on appeal it just isn't worth it."

Flora says there is simply too much at stake and once the sentence is carried out..there is no turning back

" Look at these cases that have been reversed.. look at the people who have been put on death row and in fact later it turns out they are innocent because of dna and things of that nature."

Governor Tom Wolf placed a moratorium on executions until the capital case system can be reviewed..that drew outrage from many prosecutors but was welcome news to civil rights activists and defense lawyers..that review is still underway.. 


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