Opponents Of Juvenile Executions Continue Struggle
Jan. 11, 1986
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Although James Terry Roach died in South Carolina's electric chair for murders he committed at 17, the fight to keep other juvenile criminals from being executed will continue, capital punishment protesters say.
''I pray that my fate will some day save another kid that ends up on the wrong side of the tracks,'' Roach, 25, said just before he was executed Friday morning for the murders of two Columbia teen-agers.
Appeals from U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa, former President Carter and others failed to persuade Gov. Dick Riley to grant clemency.
David Weisbrodt, a University of Minnesota professor, who presented a petition on Roach's behalf to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States said the question of whether the execution violated international law would be heard in April.
The petition alleges that the execution violated international law because Roach was not yet 18 when he killed the couple.
Weisbrodt, a human rights law specialist, said almost every country in the Western Hemisphere except the United States requires that a person be 18 years old at the time of the crime to receive the death penalty.
''If the commission decides that the United States has violated international law, that declaration could have quite an affect on the other 35 (people who were minors at the time of their crime) on death row across the county,'' he said in a telephone interview Friday.
Roach, of Seneca, pleaded guilty in October 1977 to killing Tommy Taylor, 17, and Carlotta Hartness, 14, who were attacked as they sat in a car parked near their high school.