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Opponents hold vigil outside mansion

Wednesday, July 07, 1999

Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

Death penalty opponents yesterday planned a two-hour, candlelight vigil at the Governor's Mansion to conclude at 10 p.m., the hour convicted murderer Gary Heidnik was scheduled to be executed.

Patricia Schulder, secretary of Central Pennsylvanians to Abolish the Death Penalty, said the death penalty was no longer needed as a crime deterrent.

"Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing is wrong?" she asked. Not only is capital punishment opposed by many major religious groups, it also has been abolished in Western Europe, Russia and South Africa, she said. "We now rank with Iraq, Iran and China in still allowing it," she added.

Schulder said Heidnik's execution was particularly troublesome.

"Gary is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, with a long history of mental illness and attempts at suicide. In the commonwealth, we would execute the severely mentally ill rather than trying to treat them," she said.

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