Unwanted Clemency

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CHICAGO: Against her wishes, Illinois Governor Jim Edgar halted the execution of Guinevere Garcia, less than a day before she was to die by lethal injection. Convicted of killing her abusive husband in 1991 after earlier serving a ten year sentence for killing her infant daughter, Garcia last summer dropped all her appeals and said she was responsible for her crimes and deserved to die. A swarm of activists, including Bianca Jagger, have since argued that Garcia's decision amounted to a suicide wish by a woman who was sexually molested by her uncle throughout her childhood and abused by her husband. In a blunt taped message played for the prisoner review board last Thursday, Garcia pleaded for her execution: "Stay out of my case. Stay out of my life. Venture only where you are wanted, not where you want to go. This is not a suicide. I am not taking my own life. I committed these crimes. I am responsible for these crimes." She also said that her sentence to die by the death penalty was the law: "Follow it." In changing Garcia's sentence to life imprisonment, Edgar disagreed: "Horrible as was her crime, it was an offense comparable to those judges and jurors have determined over and over again should not be punishable by death."