Michael Beuke Is Executed: Could You Forgive a Man Who Killed Your Loved One?

Suzanne Murray
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death penalty prisonMichael Beuke, 48, was executed today in Ohio, making him the 38th person put to death there since 1999.

Beuke, who was dubbed the "homicidal hitchhiker," spent 25 years on death row for the 1983 murder of Robert Craig. Beuke was also found guilty of the attempted murders of Gregory Wahoff and Bruce Graham, both of whom he shot.

According to the Associated Press, Beuke apologized to his victims' families and recited the Roman Catholic rosary for 17 minutes before he died, choking back tears as he repeatedly said the Hail Mary.

Victim Bruce Graham wrote a letter to the Ohio Parole Board earlier this month, saying, "I do not think one more life taken at this point would solve anything." Graham met Beuke face-to-face in prison a few months ago. "I wanted to know if he was reformed and had been rehabilitated," Graham wrote. "After meeting him and seeing him in person, I could tell he was sincere in his apology."

Several Roman Catholic priests and other prison volunteers agreed. They said Beuke was a changed man; a model prisoner, who was extremely remorseful for his crimes.

The relatives of Beuke's other victims aren't as forgiving. Gregory Wahoff, who survived Beuke's attack but was paralyzed for the rest of his life, died four years ago. His wife JoAnn Walhoff told the board that Beuke shouldn't be spared. Susan Craig, Robert Craig's widow, who witnessed Beuke's execution this morning, said his remorse didn't matter -- he deserved to die.

The board ruled unanimously against mercy for Beuke, saying the brutality of his crimes outweighed his personal and spiritual growth behind bars.

Last night, Beuke also lost appeals before the US Supreme Court and this morning, the Ohio Supreme Court denied him a last-minute stay. His lawyers said recent brain scans and expert conclusions showed Beuke suffered from moderate to severe brain damage, which contributed to his violent behavior. The court didn't buy it.

Beuke's crimes were unacceptable, and the pain of his victims and their families unimaginable, but is his death the answer?

Could you forgive someone who killed one of your loved ones?


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