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January 27, 2006

Blogging From Death Row

Crazy blog-clemency?

Vernon Lee Evans Jr. -- amateur advice columnist and convicted murderer -- is scheduled to die next month by lethal injection. He is one of the very few death row inmates to have a blog and, activists say, perhaps the only condemned man worldwide to use a blog to take questions from readers.


Though defense attorneys in capital cases have long strived to remind judges and juries that their clients are human beings with lives beyond the crimes they are accused of, Evans's blog is the leading edge of a strategy by death penalty opponents to use new technologies to make the same point to the wider public.

A coalition of activists in Canada maintains Web pages for about 500 death row inmates. Another group, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, began holding events in 1998 in which condemned inmates are patched through by speaker phone. The blogs are the latest experiment, and the activists say Evans's blog is the most novel and daring because readers can post questions.

"Part of the reason the death penalty is allowed to exist is that people don't acknowledge the fact that the people on death row are human beings," Simmons said.

Evans, 56, of Baltimore, was first sentenced to death more than two decades ago for the contract killings of potential witnesses in a federal drug case. He was convicted in the murders of David Scott Piechowicz, 27, and that man's sister-in-law, Susan Kennedy, 19, in 1983 at a hotel that Piechowicz managed in Pikesville.

We acknowledge you're a human being. An evil human being who murdered other human beings.

I have little doubt that you have some outside interests, apart from murder-for-hire. You probably like puppies and ice cream. That's a human thing.

But a desire for justice is also a human thing, you know.

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posted by Ace at 12:25 PM

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