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Carnahan regrets lack of communication with families of Mease's victims

April 29, 1999
By: Maria Andres
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Mel Carnahan expressed his regrets Thursday for how his office handled the death-sentence commutation he granted earlier this year at the request of Pope John Paul.

While not apologizing for the commutation decision, the governor expressed his disappointment with how the decision had been communicated to relatives of Darrell Mease's victims.

"I realize that some of you are displeased with my recent decision in the Mease case," said Carnahan. "No one feels any worse than I do that those family members had to find out about my decision in such an inappropriate fashion. That was due to human error and completely unintentional."

Darrell Mease, convicted of murdering a drug partner and two other people in southwest Missouri in 1988, was released of his death penalty after the Pontiff's face-to-face request to Carnahan.

Carnahan's comments come after U.S. Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Missouri and Carnahan's opponent in next year's Senate race, had used the victim rights issue to criticize the commutation of death row inmate Mease.

Ashcroft will conduct another hearing on victims' rights this weekend in St. Louis. The hearing is expected to spotlight the controversial decision Carnahan made to spare Mease's life.

Carnahan made his comments at a Victims' Rights Week ceremony outside the Capitol building. With the title "Victims' voices: Silent no more", the meeting included presentation of different crime victims, telling their own stories. They emphasized that victims' voices have much to contribute to individual and community safety and the creation of anti-crime laws.