On Thursday, Feb. 19, Virginia killed Edward Nathaniel Bell in our name. He received the death penalty because he was found guilty for the 1999 murder of Officer Ricky Timbrook in Winchester. Officer Timbrook’s murder is a heinous crime, and his murderer deserves severe punishment. However, killing a person who has killed another person to make the point that killing a person is wrong is absolute nonsense. Our humanity is diminished when the Commonwealth kills in our name. Make no mistake: State-approved killing is still killing, despite the fact that we name it execution to sweeten it up.
I certainly don’t know whether Eddie Bell killed Officer Timbrook. He claims he did not, including his last words as he was forcibly carried to the execution chamber. I do know that Eddie Bell was most likely retarded (the Supreme Court has ruled that mentally retarded people cannot be executed), but was prevented from presenting that evidence at his trial. His legal counsel in the sentencing phase was so poor that the appeal court commented on the absolute failure of counsel to provide any mitigating information. The case against Eddie Bell was completely circumstantial, and the only witness against him has admitted to lying in his testimony. These irregularities make it possible that Virginia has killed an innocent man in my name.
Over 130 death-row inmates have been exonerated by the Innocence Project, which has proved that they did not commit the crimes for which they were found guilty. Unless and until we have a foolproof legal system, incapable of error, I do not want any state-approved killing carried out in my name. How about you? Please let the governor and your state legislators know how you feel.
– Letter from DeeDee Tostanoski, Alexandria