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May 18, 2005

Notable death row reprieve request

Thanks to this post at CrimProf Blog, I am pondering how a governor should respond to a death row inmate's request for a reprieve to provide the inmate an opportunity to donate an organ to save his dying sister.  According to this AP story, that's the issue facing Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels:

An inmate condemned to die by chemical injection this month is seeking a reprieve at least long enough to donate his liver to his dying sister. Gregory Scott Johnson is scheduled to die May 25 for the 1985 murder of Ruby Hutslar, an 82-year-old woman from Anderson....  Defense attorneys want Gov. Mitch Daniels to grant Johnson a short reprieve that would allow time for medical tests to determine whether the organ is compatible with Johnson's sister....

Johnson told The Indianapolis Star during an interview at the prison this week that he wants to donate his liver in hopes of leaving something positive to society. "'I'm sorry' just doesn't cut it," he said. "All of the same stupid things I've done that I thought wasn't hurting anyone — at that time in my life, I didn't care. I care now, but it's too late." Johnson admits he played a significant role in Hutslar's death but says another man who helped him actually killed her.

Johnson's 48-year-old sister, Deborah Otis, lives in an Anderson nursing home. Michelle Kraus, Johnson's attorney, said his request was not an attempt to delay the execution, saying he cares for his sister. "She is a mother and a grandmother. She has much to live for," Kraus said.

It seems to me that, for anyone truly committed to a "culture of life," this decision should be an easy call.  Johnson is only seeking a relatively brief postponement of his execution in order to try to save an innocent life.  But for some reason I am not expecting the Schiavo crowd to be pushing new federal legislation to save lives in this case.

May 18, 2005 at 09:08 PM | Permalink


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So the sister is guilty by association, and not worthy of the benefits of the new "culture of life"? How confusing.

Posted by: Jeannie | May 20, 2005 10:22:19 PM

According to this article, http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/05/20/liver.death.row.reut/index.html, the Illinois Parole Board on Friday "voted unanimously to recommend that Johnson be denied clemency. There was no separate vote on a stay." The article also notes that now, the "final decision on clemency or a stay will be up to Gov. Mitch Daniels."

Posted by: DEJ | May 22, 2005 12:50:47 AM

He was positive for Hep B and his liver would not be a good donation. She really needs a full liver and a kidney also, so this would not be a good donation.

Time to pay the piper.

I am a nurse

Posted by: Katie | May 25, 2005 1:03:32 PM

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