|Ron Carlson speaking out against|
the death penalty in Houston on
August 16, 2010.
For more information on the march visit: www.marchforabolition.org.
Ron Carlson's sister, Deborah Ruth Carlson Davis Thornton, and Jerry Lynn Dean were murdered with a pick ax by Karla Faye Tucker and Daniel Ryan Garrett on June 13, 1983. Both Tucker and Garrett were sentenced to death. Ron originally supported their sentences, telling the prosecutors, "I think they got what they deserved." Ron lost his stepfather and natural father within a year of Deborah's death. "You can't imagine the anger that was in this body," he says now. For many years, Ron treated his pain with alcohol and drugs, until becoming a Christian and turning his life "over to the Lord" in 1990. Ron ultimately forgave Karla and Dan and worked hard to commute their death sentences.
Dan died in prison of natural causes in 1993. Despite widespread appeals on her behalf, Karla Faye Tucker was executed on February 3,1998, in Huntsville, Texas. Ron was invited by Karla to witness the execution as one of her representatives. When he did so, he become the first known victim's family member to witness an execution on behalf of the murderer. Ron's decision caused rifts within his family that remain to be healed. But most family members still offer their love and support. And Ron knows he made the right decision. "I drew strength from the Lord, and I knew he was here. God reached out of heaven to hold us in his hands and cradle us with his love and compassion. Karla died with a smile on her face. They took her body, but they didn't kill her spirit."
"The world is not a better place because the State of Texas executed Karla Faye Tucker. Even though Karla murdered my only sibling -- my sister, Deborah, who had raised me after our mother died -- I stood with her as one of her witnesses when she was executed. I was there to stand up for the Lord, for the strength of his love. Karla and I had both done a lot of wrong in our lives. We had both turned to drugs to heal our pain; we had both hurt a lot of people. But the love of Jesus Christ transformed us. We were able to forgive ourselves and each other. "I love you Ronnie," was one of the last things Karla said. I still carry that love with me".
Each October since 2000, people from all walks of life and all parts of Texas, the U.S. and other countries have taken a day out of their year and gathered in Austin to raise their voices together and loudly express their opposition to the death penalty. The march is a coming together of activists, family members of people on death row, community leaders, exonerated prisoners and all those calling for abolition.
Last year’s march was the largest anti-death penalty rally in Texas since the first ever march in 2000. We will be joined this year by the Journey of Hope, which is an organization led by murder victim family members joined by death row family members, family members of the executed, the exonerated, and others with stories to tell, that conducts public education speaking tours and addresses alternatives to the death penalty.
The annual march is organized by several Texas anti-death penalty organizations, including the Austin chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Texas Moratorium Network, the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center, Death Penalty Free Austin, and Kids Against the Death Penalty.