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Twitter exchange highlights questions over death penalty

by Greg Belfrage

This fascinating exchange on Twitter caught my eye today. The conversation is between reporter John Hult and Representative Steve Hickey of Sioux Falls.

Hult is covering the death penalty proceedings of James McVay, whoadmits to killing Maybelle Schein in Sioux Falls three years ago.

Hickey is the Republican lawmaker who tried unsuccessfully this past session to abolish the state's death penalty.

Hult begins with a quote from McVay's sentencing hearing...

I understand the judge's ruling about hearsay evidence. But I also understand Hickey's stunned disbelief that the Christian victim's views on capital punishment are being considered irrelevant.

Hickey responded with another Tweet, encouraging death penalty opponents to make their wishes known in writing.

The testimony at McVay's sentencing hearing has been infuriating to me at times. McVay's attorneys have asserted that he's mentally ill and therefore shouldn't be put to death.

However, they've also said McVay feels great remorse for his crime. McVay has tried to twice commit suicide since being imprisoned for murdering Maybelle Schein.

It sounds to me like McVay's conscience is working just fine. If he were mentally ill, wouldn't he be indifferent or proud of Schein's death?

However, like Steve Hickey, I generally oppose use of the death penalty. I support life imprisonment for McVay.

McVay's actions are certainly worthy of death. However, McVay repeatedly told arresting officers that he wanted the death penalty. As far as I'm concerned, that's a major argument in favor of life imprisonment.

You can call me cold, but I'm very content to let McVay's conscience work on him for another 30-40 years. That's real punishment... each and every day for the rest of his life.

Greg Belfrage @belfrageshow is heard 6am-9am on KELO 1320 AM and 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com.