A mother’s anguish

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Woman wants serial killer brought to justice in her lifetime

By Leesha Faulkner

The Selma Times-Journal

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Barbara Harris may see her family’s killer executed yet.

The full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated a decision last week by a three-judge panel that granted a stay for Daniel L. Siebert. The court has ordered reconsideration, but maintained the stay until it reviews the case.

It’s uncertain when that review will come.

“It has been a huge roller coaster,” Harris, 63, of Selma said Monday afternoon. “It’s not over yet.”

Siebert, 53, strangled Sherri Weathers and her two preschool boys nearly 21 years ago, piled the children’s bodies on top of their mother, covered them with a blanket and turned up the thermostat in the house.

It was not the first nor last time, according to his confessions, that he had killed someone.

He confessed to many other killings in other states.

Their families also have suffered, Harris said, and they had bonded through their grief.

Last week some representatives of some of the families from as far away as New York joined Harris at Holman Prison near Atmore to wait for the execution. Even the hearse was outside a building on the grounds.

But the end didn’t come because of the stay. The three-judge panel said that Siebert’s claims that lethal injection would violate his constitutional rights had been met. They issued a stay.

Harris said she received a telephone call telling her about the decision. “I hung up the phone and just fell apart.”

She is not vindictive, Harris said, but she wants to see justice completed. She said she has attended most appeal hearings that have drug the case out for more than two decades.

The grief and the stress have caused her health to deteriorate. But Harris is determined.

“I am going to see it through, if I live long enough.”

Her voice breaks as she talks about her daughter, who would be 45 years old if she lived, and of the two children, who would be in their mid-20s by now, perhaps beginning families of their own.

Even if Siebert is executed soon, Harris doesn’t expect to have closure.

“I don’t think so. Not what people would consider closure,” she said. “I don’t think it will ever all be gone, but we are going to close the chapter on Siebert.”