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Death penalty opponents to tell their stories at St. Cecilia Cathedral

A death row inmate who was exonerated and a woman who is opposed to the death penalty despite her daughter’s murder will share their stories at a presentation on capital punishment Oct. 24 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.

The event is being held as people prepare to vote Nov. 8 on repeal of the death penalty in Nebraska, and it is part of a broader effort by Nebraska’s bishops to build awareness and educate voters about the church’s opposition to the death penalty, said Tom Venzor, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC).

Archbishop George J. Lucas plans to be at the 6:30 to 8 p.m. presentation, titled "Catholic Voices Against the Death Penalty" and organized by the NCC and the Catholic Mobilizing Network.

Similar programs will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at St. Mary Cathedral in Grand Island Oct. 25 and the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln Oct. 26.

Speakers at the cathedral will include Joe D’Ambrosio, who served more than 20 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. Among 156 death row inmates in the United States to be exonerated, D’Ambrosio will be accompanied by Father Neil Kookoothe, the prison chaplain, trained nurse and attorney who helped free him.

Another speaker will be Marietta Jaeger-Lane, who opposes the death penalty despite the kidnapping and murder of her 7-year-old daughter, Susie.

Jaeger-Lane asked that the mentally ill man who murdered her daughter be given a life sentence instead of the death penalty. Only then did the man confess to Susie’s, as well as other murders.

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