Winner Renews Call For Death Penalty In Wake Of Court Testimony This Week

George Winner

September 28, 2006

Elmira, N.Y.-- State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira)is renewing the call to restore New York State's death penalty in the wake ofthis week’s testimony in the trial over the March 1 shooting death of New York State Trooper Andrew J. Sperr, which Winner said"practically begs New York State Assembly leaders to restore the death penalty. You will never read or hear a more powerfully convincing statement in support of the death penalty as a deterrent to violent crime."

LateTuesday afternoon a Chemung County jury found defendant Anthony D. Horton of Elmira guilty of murdering Sperr.

Winner said, "Violent criminals like Anthony Horton are afraid of the death penalty, and they’re emboldened by New York’s lack of it. Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every year that we leave the death penalty off the books potentially emboldens another violent killer."

As reported locally on Tuesday (see article), Horton’s trial included testimony from an accomplice in the March 1 bank robbery that led to Sperr’s murder. Horton’s accomplice in the robbery, Bryan Adams, who admitted to driving the getaway vehicle, testified on Monday that Horton cited New York’s lack of a death penalty before fatally shooting Sperr.

Adams provided the following testimony: "Tony said, ‘Do you want to do a little bit of (prison) time or a lot of time?’ He said he was going to shoot the cop. He said New York doesn’t have the death penalty."

Winner, a strong death penalty advocate for nearly three decades in New York government, called Adams’ testimony a convincing statement in support of the death penalty.

"This testimony is 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," said Winner.

Earlier this year the Senate approved legislation Winner co-sponsored to reinstate New York’s death penalty for violent murderers who kill a police officer, peace officer or employee of the state Department of Correctional Services. The legislation was approved by a vote of 37 to 23. No action was taken by the Assembly.

Winner called on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Assembly’s Democratic leaders to allow the legislation to be voted on by the full Assembly.

"After reading this testimony involving the murder of one of New York’s finest, how could any legislator stand to vote against the death penalty? Speaker Silver should call the Assembly back into session so that New York State’s death penalty is restored as soon as possible," said Winner.