Tonight I pray for the families of Craig Turski, Gregory Martin and Gus Garcia. Craig and Gregory were senselessly shot down during separate robberies. Gus was convicted of the shooting of Mr. Turski. He was also suspected of the murder of Mr. Martin. Gus was sentenced to death.
The State of Texas will strap Gus to a gurney tomorrow night and put him to death. I was on Gus’s defense team.
Those of us who are involved in capital defense work are often the targets of much public vitriol and hate. We often have quick answers to the question of “How can you defend someone like that?” or “What if it was one of your loved ones that was killed?” The public persona rarely shows our hearts.
Those questions assume that we have no compassion or sympathy. Those are false assumptions. I can assure you of that.
Every case I have worked, I ache for the family of the victim. I do, in fact, know their pain. The defense zealously advocates for the citizen accused, more often than not in the face of overwhelming evidence. We do not have the benefit of choosing are clients. We grow to know our clients. We develop relationships with their families. We know more about them than we sometimes know about our own loved ones. We do this work out of a sense of commitment to justice. That process is not easy nor does it always end in a manner desired by the parties.
For 28 years I have been involved in trying to stave off the State of Texas from executing its citizens. Maybe the reasons and the logic behind my work should be subject for another blog posting. But as for tonight, although that verdict so many years ago might suggest I did not do well, I know that in the final judgment I did well because I did good. I did right. Verdicts don’t measure that.
So as I sit here, I think of Craig Turski, Gregory Martin and Gus Garcia. I pray for them. I pray for their families and friends. I pray for those jurors who sat in judgment. I pray for the lawyers on both sides of the case. I pray for an end of gun violence. I pray for an end of this madness called capital punishment.
And, I pray for myself too…because tomorrow, a little bit of myself will die on that gurney.