courtney siceloff csiceloff at mindspring.com
Sun Feb 13 00:15:28 JEST 2000

Many Friends have been following the case of Randy Reeves who was sentenced 
to death for killing two women in the Central City, Nebraska Meeting 
house.  Randy, a Native American, was raised by a Quaker family.  For 
Quakers, and especially for those who oppose the death penalty, this case 
has taken on special interest.  The father of one of the victims, and many 
in the Meeting have worked toward reversing the death penalty for 
Randy.  The case also illustrates the importance of having a competent 
defense counsel and community support, often lacking in capital cases of 
indigent, and frequently, persons of color.
courtney siceloff

>Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2000 16:10:37 -0500 (EST)
>From: fcnl-news at fcnl.org
>Sender: owner-fcnl-news at mclean1.his.com
>Reply-To: fcnl-news at fcnl.org
>To: undisclosed-recipients:;
>FEBRUARY 7, 2000
>Following are announcements and information from the Friends Committee on
>National Legislation (FCNL).  These messages (1) focus on legislative work,
>but do not have a legislative action component, (2) provide updates on
>FCNL's work, and/or (3) inform you about resources available from FCNL.
>These messages are intended as a supplement to the Legislative Action
>Message and other FCNL materials.  For further information, please visit our
>web site <http://www.fcnl.org>.  This INFO LINE was prepared and uploaded at
>4:00 PM on Monday, February 7, 2000.
>On Friday, January 7, the Nebraska Supreme Court overturned the death
>sentence for Randy Reeves.  Attorneys for Reeves had filed an appeal which
>argued that execution would violate Reeves' rights under a new
>equal-protections clause in the state constitution, approved by Nebraska's
>voters in November 1998.  The Nebraska Supreme Court rejected that argument
>but ruled that it had erred in 1991 when it upheld Reeve's death sentence
>(following a 1991 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which remanded the Reeves case
>back to the state Supreme Court) without properly following the state's
>two-tiered sentencing process.  In the present ruling, the state Supreme
>Court found that it lacked authority to resentence Reeves to death.  Because
>Reeves' case was not sent back to the sentencing panel in 1991, Reeves was
>denied due process.
>BACKGROUND: Randy was convicted of the 1980 murders of two women, Janet
>Mesner and Victoria Lamm.  Randy committed the murders in a state of
>"diminished capacity" (he was in a drug and alcohol-induced stupor).  In
>1981, he was convicted of felony murder by a jury that was not given
>information that would have allowed them to consider a lesser offense.  As a
>result, he was sentenced to death.  He has spent the past 18 years on death
>row while his case has been reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court and the 8th
>District Court of Appeals (twice each).  In January of 1999, the Nebraska
>Board of Pardons, which included Governor Mike Johanns, voted to deny Randy
>a clemency hearing, thus sustaining the death penalty.  About 40 hours
>before his scheduled execution, the Nebraska Supreme Court stayed the
>execution in order to hear arguments for his appeal based on the state's
>equal-protection clause.
>The murders devastated the Friends community in Nebraska but have also borne
>dramatic witness to the depth of Friends' testimony against the death
>penalty.  Randy, Janet, and both their families are long-time members of the
>Friends meeting in Central City, NE.  The murder occurred in the Friends
>meeting house in Lincoln, NE.  Prior to the murders, Randy's father, Don
>Reeves, had been active in the effort to end the death penalty in Nebraska.
>On the first day of Randy's trial in 1981, Janet's father, Kenneth Mesner,
>offered testimony against the death penalty at hearings held by the state
>The Reeves case has also drawn attention to another issue of concern to
>Friends: generations of injustices committed by the U.S. government against
>Native Americans.  Randy Reeves was born into the Omaha Nation but was
>removed from the reservation when he was three years old.  Ultimately he was
>adopted by the Reeves, however there remain questions about due process.
>Generations of Native American children have been torn away from families,
>some to spend extended times at BIA boarding schools, others, like Randy,
>separated permanently.  For many, the separations were traumatic, the
>consequences profound.  The high rates of alcoholism and suicide among
>Native American youth bear mute testimony to the violence that has been
>Finally, the Reeves case highlights yet another issue of concern, the
>racially disparate implementation of death penalty statutes.  Carefully
>designed case studies have documented skewing such that people of color are
>more likely than white persons to receive the death sentence for comparable
>crimes.  Since the death penalty was reinstituted in 1976, five Native
>Americans have been executed.  All were convicted of murdering white people.
>In Nebraska, the three persons executed in recent history have all been
>people of color convicted of killing white persons.
>For additional information, please see the updates on Nebraska's death row
>from Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty (NADP) at
>News articles are also available from the Lincoln Journal Star and the Daily
>Nebraskan at
>This concludes our message.  If you have comments, questions, or
>corrections, please contact FCNL directly or visit our web site
>                         FCNL
>                         245 2nd Street, NE
>                         Washington, DC 20002
>                         (202) 547-6000
>                         fcnl at fcnl.org
>This message may be found regularly on PeaceNet in the fcnl.updates
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