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DECEMBER 21, 1998   4:18 PM
CONTACT: American Friends Service Committee
Carl Maugeri 215 241-7060
American Friends Service Committee Urges Clemency In Nebraska Death Penalty Case
PHILADELPHIA - December 21 - Citing an "extraordinary level of forgiveness" by the victims' families and firm Quaker opposition to the death penalty, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has urged the Nebraska Board of Pardons to grant clemency to death-row inmate Randolph Reeves.

AFSC joins a host of local and national religious and anti-death penalty organizations working to overturn Reeves's death sentence. Attention has been heightened since an execution date of January 14 was announced in November.

Reeves, a 42-year-old Native American (Omaha Tribe), was convicted of stabbing to death two women, Janet Mesner and Victoria Lamm, in a Quaker meetinghouse in 1980. Reeves is the adopted son of Don and Barbara Reeves of Central City, Nebraska. Don Reeves is a member of the AFSC Board of Directors.

During its November 11 meeting in Philadelphia, the AFSC Corporation, the organization's governing body, approved a measure requesting clemency for Reeves.

"Although AFSC's opposition to the death penalty is based on Quaker values, we believe that this case merits particular attention because of the extraordinary level of forgiveness by the families of both victims. The mercy demonstrated by the Mesners and the Lamms is an inspiration and should force us all to recognize that execution by the state can never be an answer to the grief of murder victims' families and loved ones," said Kara Newell, executive director of AFSC.

"We are also mindful of the pain this case has caused all families involved, including the Reeves, and reaffirm our support for Don and Barbara and their entire family during this most difficult time," Newell said.

Ken and Mildred Mesner, parents of murder victim Janet Mesner, have publicly spoken out against the pending execution of Randy Reeves. They have provided testimony before the Nebraska Legislature's Judiciary Committee calling for a repeal of the state's death penalty laws. In addition, they have granted numerous interviews with print and broadcast media to call for clemency for their daughter's murderer.

"From the very beginning, we have felt that taking Randy's life for revenge is not an option. To take Randy's life will only cause more pain and suffering, and not bring Janet back," Ken Mesner said.

The husband and daughter of Victoria Lamm, likewise, have taken a public stand in the effort to halt Reeves's execution. They had not commented on the death sentence against Reeves until recently but have begun granting media interviews, including an appearance on a December 10 television news broadcast in Lincoln. The Lamms traveled from their home in Oregon to meet with two members of the Board of Pardons on December 11 to ask that Reeves's sentence be commuted.

"I think there has been enough killing in this particular case," said Gus Lamm, Victoria Lamm's husband. "Evil is time-limited, but good lasts so much longer."

Victoria's daughter, Audrey Lamm, said: "Losing another person doesn't bring her (Victoria) back, it doesn't do any honor to her memory."

The case deeply affected members of the small Quaker meeting in Central City, Nebraska, where the murders took place, as well as the meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska, and where both the Reeves and Mesner families are members. Quakers, who are known for pacifist beliefs and acknowledgment of the value of each individual, were forced to confront a violent act within their community. At a worship service the day following the murders, members of the Central City Meeting placed two flowers in the sanctuary - one for the victims and one for the accused. Several members there continue to work against the death penalty.

A number of activities aimed at bringing the case to the attention of state officials and the public include: daily vigils at the Capitol, a speaking tour around the state by a group comprised of families of murder victims, and a rally at the Capitol on Sunday, January 3.


For more information, see: Stop the Execution of Randy Reeves

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization which includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.



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