Murder Victims' Families, Lawyers, Politicians and a Judge Ask That Their State to Stop Killing People

Nebraska Democratic State Senator Ernie Chambers has been in office for four decades, and during that time he has been a crusader against capital punishment. He has introduced a new bill to do away with the practice and instead replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. He's joined by eight Republican lawmakers.

In his efforts this year, however, he was also joined by a set of new allies: families of murder victims. One is Miriam Thimm Kelle, whose brother James was killed by a cult leader who ordered her brother's murder. She told the Omaha World-Herald that the death sentence has divided her loved ones and caused a rift in her family. “When we sentence someone to death, we sentence the victim's family as well,” she said.

Another family member campaigning against the death penalty is Tricia Moore, whose 23-year-old son Jer'ray Moore was murdered in 2013. Moore noted that the state spends millions of dollars putting convicted killers through the execution process but that she still owes money for her own son's funeral.

“If the state is serious about assisting crime victims, we would spend our resources differently,” she said. “We would ensure that every time a child is lost, that family is given some basic help to rebuild their lives."

One of the people who testified for Chambers' bill was Sarpy County District judge Ronald Reagan who himself had sentenced a man to death. He said that in private conversations with judges since then,  “we all agreed with the hope that sometime the Legislature would abolish the death penalty.”

“This bill may not pass, but as long as I’m in this Legislature, I will try to save this state from itself,” Chambers said. “We should insist this state will not kill anybody else.”

Watch KETV Newswatch 7's video report on the Chambers bill and the campaign by family members of murder victims to abolish the death penalty:

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