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Victims Families Angry At California Governor's Suspension Of Death Penalty

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Governor Gavin Newsom said last week he would like to halt the prosecution of any future death sentences in California.  As Capital Public Radio’s Chris Nichols reports, that potential move plus his freeze on executions has angered victim’s families. 

Larry Lasater was a police officer in Pittsburg, California when he was shot and killed in 2005 in the line of duty. His killer is on death row.

When Lasater’s mother, Phyllis, heard the governor was halting the state’s death penalty, she felt …

02Phyllis: … like my heart had been ripped out. … I was in shock. I just couldn’t believe it.” (:06)

Phyllis has been fighting for justice for her son -- but she says that fight was shattered, at least for a short while.

04Phyllis: “I allowed myself one day to kind of feel all the heartbreak and just got up the next day to fight again.” (:10)

Not all families who lost someone to a death row killer support capital punishment. Some backed Newsom’s decision.

Phyllis says a minority of families feel that way.

05Phyllis: “Everyone wants a different path. I would say the people I know, and I know hundreds, we all feel that he betrayed us.” (:09)

Newsom’s move freezes executions during his time in office.

It doesn’t eliminate death row or change any sentences. A future governor can reverse his decision.

In Sacramento, I’m Chris Nichols.

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