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Widow Of Warrant Officer Speaks Out About Death Penalty Moratorium In Pa.

By David Spunt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Hours after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a moratorium on the death penalty, the widow of a Philadelphia warrant officer told Eyewitness News she is devastated.

"When I heard it on the news, I went off the handle. I started crying," Gretchen LeClair said.

LeClaire's husband, Joseph, was shot and killed on March 19, 2004 when he was serving a warrant to Darien Houser. Police say Houser opened fire on LeClaire and two other officers. The two survived, but LeClaire died just a few hours later.

"He was such a good man. He didn't deserve to get killed," LeClaire said.

Sergeant Joseph LeClaire served three tours in Vietnam, and spent 9 years with the First Judicial District Warrant District.

"I can't get my life on. I can't move forward," she told Eyewitness News.

Darien Houser is on death row, and now his fate hangs in the balance because of the Wolf moratorium.

"I will never get peace. The only time I will get peace is if the guy is executed," she said.

Wolfe's office released the following statement from the Governor on Friday:

"Today's action comes after significant consideration and reflection," said Governor Wolf. "This moratorium is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row, all of whom have been convicted of committing heinous crimes. This decision is based on a flawed system that has been proven to be an endless cycle of court proceedings as well as ineffective, unjust, and expensive. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty, 150 people have been exonerated from death row nationwide, including six men in Pennsylvania. Recognizing the seriousness of these concerns, the Senate established the bipartisan Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Commission to conduct a study of the effectiveness of capital punishment in Pennsylvania. Today's moratorium will remain in effect until this commission has produced its recommendation and all concerns are addressed satisfactorily."

To read more about the moratorium, click here.


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