Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Hunt to speak at campus rally

Hunt to speak at campus rally

By: Amy Eagleburger, Senior Writer

After serving nearly 20 years for a crime he did not commit, Darryl Hunt, exonerated in 2004, has now become a key advocate for a death penalty moratorium in North Carolina.

Today he will share his story with UNC students at an anti-death penalty rally. Hunt last spoke at the University in 2004, and a documentary about his ordeal was aired on campus last October.

The rally is sponsored by the Newman Catholic Student Center Parish, N.C. State University Catholic Campus Ministry and the criminal justice action and awareness committee of the Campus Y.

Organizers are hoping to capitalize on the de facto moratorium created by Gov. Mike Easley as the state attempts to deal with the recent N.C. Medical Board decision banning physicians from supervising lethal injections.

"We're really trying to raise awareness at this time, especially if the state decides to go ahead through lethal injections without the physician there," said William Smith, social justice coordinator for the Newman Center.

The rally will feature three other anti-death penalty advocates, including Mark Rabil, Hunt's attorney.

Smith said organizers were thrilled when Hunt agreed to speak. "It's a whole different experience when you hear from someone who has experience firsthand."

Along with the rally, Scott Langley, former N.C. state death penalty abolition coordinator for Amnesty International, will be presenting his photography project on the death penalty.

His slide-show presentation, to be given Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Gardner 103, features eight years of images, covering conditions in Texas, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Indiana.

"I show scenes of the warden moving the gurney into the death room, and I show photos of where the witnesses view the executions, where the families of the prisoners are able to visit the death row inmates for the last time," Langley said.

Support for a moratorium is not universal, and Mel Chilton, executive director of the N.C. Victims' Assistance Network, said the organization still stands behind its 2003 anti-moratorium resolution to the N.C. General Assembly.

"We are constantly talking to people and lobbying at the legislature," Chilton said. "All the rallying and conversation is not going to change the fact that we are waiting for the courts and the legislature to make a decision."

Currently the legislature is considering bills in the Senate and House. Both attempt to prevent physicians who assist with executions from being penalized.

Along with speakers, the rally will provide laptops so students can write to their representatives, urging support for a moratorium.

"If we get a couple hundred that would be great," Smith said.

Contact the State & National Editor at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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