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Ill. Clemency Review Begins

October 17, 2002

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CHICAGO (AP) _ Relatives of a pregnant woman who was murdered because her alleged killers wanted her unborn baby, which they cut from her womb, sharply criticized Gov. George Ryan for considering commuting the inmates’ death sentences.

The family of Debra Evans testified Wednesday before the state’s Prisoner Review Board, which held its second day of hearings for nearly all death row inmates in Illinois.

The sweeping review comes more than two years after Ryan halted all executions in Illinois, citing the wrongful convictions of 13 inmates. In all, more than 140 petitions for clemency will be presented through the end of the month.

Evans died in 1995 after she was shot in the head and her killers removed from her womb an almost full-term baby boy, who lived. Two of her other children also were killed.

Accused killers Jacqueline Annette Williams and Fedell Caffey were convicted. Their motive, prosecutors said, was that Williams wanted the baby for herself. Caffey was Williams’ boyfriend at the time.

On Wednesday, a lawyer for Williams argued that his client, who was black, should be spared because the all-white jury that convicted him might have been racist. A lawyer for Caffey argued that he is innocent.

Evans’ relatives said Ryan is causing them to suffer all over again.

The governor ``doesn’t want to talk to the victims or the families of victims,″ said her father, Samual Evans. ``Must we kill someone in the state of Illinois to be heard?″

He had brought notes from his daughter’s two surviving sons, who live with him. The note from Elijah, the boy cut from the womb, said: ``Bad people need to die. Please just let them die.″

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