Albany, N.Y.-- In late September 2006, New York State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira) said testimony in the trial over the shooting death of State Trooper Andrew J. Sperr practically begged the leaders of the State Assembly to restore the death penalty.
Winner at the time was referring to testimony in the trialover theMarch 1 bank robbery that led to Sperr’s murder. A Chemung County jury found defendant Anthony D. Horton of Elmira guilty of killing Sperr. Horton’s accomplice in the robbery, Bryan Adams, who admitted to driving the getaway vehicle, testified in the trial that Horton cited New York’s lack of a death penalty before fatally shooting Sperr.
Adams’ testimony helped spark the Senate to reapprove legislation Winner co-sponsored last year to reinstate New York’s death penalty for those who kill a police officer, peace officer or employee of the state Department of Correctional Services. No action was taken by the Assembly.
Winner continues to co-sponsor the legislation this year, and it’s expected to be approved againnext week by the full Senate.
Now, after three state troopers have been shot, one fatally, in the past 24 hours in Delaware County and as state Assembly Republicans failed in a bid yesterday to have the death penalty for cop killers approved by the full Assembly, Winner denounced state Democrats.
"Our New York State Troopers continue to be under siege, and the Democratic leadership of New York State sits back and watches the nightmare unfold. It’s irresponsible and it’s an affront to law officers everywhere," said Winner, a strong death penalty advocate for nearly three decades in New York government.
Winner said that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer should be spending more time trying to convince his Democratic counterpart, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, to restore the death penalty and less time jetting around New York in support of campaign finance reform.
"Where’s Governor Spitzer? He should be focusing, around-the-clock, every ounce of his energy and effort on issues that our citizens are most in need of right now. Right now we need to do everything possible to ensure that worthless criminals like Bucky Phillips and Travis Trim are not emboldened to so totally disregard and disrespect the lives of our officers."
It’s been a tragic year for the New York State Police, Winner noted. Seven troopers, including Sperr, have been shot in the line of duty in a little more than a year. Two of the shootings were fatal.
Winner said, "Violent criminals are emboldened by New York’s lack of a death penalty. Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every year that we leave the death penalty off the books emboldens another violent killer."
Winner called Adams’ testimony last year a convincing statement in support of the death penalty.
"That testimony stands as the most profound statement I have ever seen or heard on the death penalty as a deterrent to violent crime. The death penalty can deter violent crime, end of discussion. It might even have saved the life of Andrew Sperr, Joseph Longobardo and other officers," said Winner.
Winner called on Spitzer, Silver and the Assembly’s Democratic leaders to swiftly approve the legislation this year.
"How can you keep waiting? Where do you find it within yourselves to keep sending our officers out into a violent world without every possible protection and the strongest possible system of criminal justice?" said Winner.