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Federal Prosecutors Considering Death Penalty Charges Against Salvi

January 4, 1995

BOSTON (AP) _ U.S. prosecutors were considering filing death penalty charges against the man charged in state court in the killing of two abortion clinic workers in Massachusetts, a state without capital punishment.

``We are certainly analyzing all the options, one of which is the possibility that the crime committed in Massachusetts would carry the death penalty, if brought in federal court,″ U.S. Attorney Donald Stern said Tuesday.

John C. Salvi III, 22, of Hampton, N.H., faces state murder charges in two abortion clinic shootings Friday that left two women dead and five others injured.

On Tuesday, more than 1,200 people jammed into the Arlington Street Church in Boston for a memorial for one of the victims, 25-year-old Shannon Lowney.

Alice Verhoeven, director of the Planned Parenthood clinic, said Lowney was the perfect person for the clinic’s job of receptionist.

Many times, women climbed the clinic’s front steps, their hearts heavy and their minds confused, and ``Shannon made sure they were met with a smile,″ the tearful Verhoeven recalled.

``Shannon did not die as a hero,″ her fiance, David Keene, told mourners. ``She lived as a hero for all who knew her.″

In Virginia on Tuesday, Salvi was ordered held without bail. He was arrested after allegedly firing 23 bullets into a Norfolk abortion clinic a day after the Massachusetts shootings.

State prosecutors in Massachusetts said they were working to get Salvi back to Massachusetts, which does not have a death penalty.

Under federal law, Salvi already faces a complaint of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. If the U.S. government pursues the complaint, Salvi would appear at a federal hearing in Virginia and be ordered back to a federal court in Massachusetts.

Stern would not say what charges federal prosecutors could file against Salvi or whether they planned to seek his extradition.

But Boston criminal lawyer Andrew Good said federal prosecutors could charge Salvi under the law that protects access to abortion clinics, plus federal firearms laws.

The combination of those statutes could carry a maximum penalty of death, Good said.

``Those are the federal hooks. ... You might get the death penalty under federal law, and I assume they’re looking into something like that,″ Good said.

Massachusetts does not have a federal prison equipped for executions.

Still, if Salvi were convicted in Massachusetts of federal charges that carry the death penalty, he could be put to death in another state, Good said.

Salvi’s attorney said Salvi hadn’t decided yet whether to fight extradition from Virginia.