THE ISSUE: Legal haggling over the death penalty

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A mother and grandmother of victims waits for word of what will happen to the man convicted 21 years ago of killing her family.

The grief and stress of the last two decades have taken their toll.

Barbara Harris is in ill health.

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But she hangs on.

The man convicted of killing her daughter and grandchildren has received a stay of execution.

He is dying of pancreatic cancer. His attorneys say the drugs administered during the execution will react with the drugs he is taking for his disease.

How long that stay will hold is anyone’s guess.

Indeed, several scheduled executions have been put on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decides if the protocol used to administer lethal injections violates the Constitution.

Notice that the debate centers on the method of execution and not the death penalty issue.

It appears we as a people are willing to support the death penalty, but we become squeamish when talking about the way to execute someone.

We do not advocate inhumane treatment of any living being.

However, putting someone to sleep, then giving them a drug to stop the heart in a sterile, clean environment does not seem cruel and unusual.

Cruel and unusual is how long Barbara Harris has had to wait for some resolution over the pages and pages of appeals.

Cruel and unusual is how Daniel Lee Siebert treated Harris’ daughter and grandchildren.

First he beat the children’s mother, then strangled her.

He woke the children, 3 and 5, and strangled them, put their bodies on top of their mother’s body, covered them with a blanket and turned up the thermostat before he left to kill again.

The legal haggling over the death penalty should end.

If a jury said Siebert is to die for his crime, then so be it.