Murder victims families gather at the Capitol pleading for death sentences to be carried out
BATON ROUGE- Decades since their loved ones were killed, family members of murder victims gathered at the capitol pleading for them to do something when it comes to inmates just sitting on death row.
In Louisiana, the last execution was in 2010. Nationally, 25 executions took place last year. Currently, a federal judge has issued a stay on executions in Louisiana. According to the Governor's Office, numerous pharmaceutical companies have refused to sell the state any of the drug compounds needed for the executions.
Wayne Guzzardo's daughter Stephanie was murdered at the Calendar's Restaurant on Perkins Road back in 1995. Since that time, Guzzardo said he has attended 15 of the appeal hearings for his daughter's killer Todd Wessinger. Wessinger went into the restaurant, killed Guzzardo and shot two others before leaving. Wessinger was upset after he was recently fired.
"The last few minutes of my daughter's life were terrifying. it took her 14 seconds to pass," Guzzardo said.
Attorney General Jeff Landry said killers sitting on death row realize nothing is going to happen to them.
"In Louisiana, death row doesn't mean death row anymore," Landry said. "It's been nine years since our last execution. For those of us that believe in the rule of law, this is unacceptable."
As the families of the murder victims wait for justice, they said their loved ones are dying waiting for the killers to be executed.
"In July of 1985 Nathaniel Cole brutally murdered three members of our family," Albert Culbert Jr. said.
Culbert said many of his loved ones waiting to see justice take its course never got that opportunity as Cole has remained on death row for 34 years.
Landry said something needs to be done immediately. He said he sent a letter to the governor last year and hopes a remedy will come soon.
The Governor's office said the Governor and the Department of Corrections were not invited to today's event at the Capitol.
The Governor issued the following statement:
"I took an oath to support the Constitution and laws of the United States and the state of Louisiana. The fact of the matter is that we cannot execute someone in the state of Louisiana today because the only legally prescribed manner set forth in state statute is unavailable to us. In the time since we last had this conversation, nothing has changed – the drugs are not available and legislation has not passed to address concerns of drug companies or offer alternative forms of execution. That's not through any fault of my own or the Department of Corrections. I'm not inclined to go back to methods that have been discarded because popular sentiment turned against them or maybe some methods that were deemed to be barbaric and so forth."