- The Washington Times - Monday, January 21, 2008

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Two Maryland couples are trying to repeal the state death penalty, despite having family members who were murdered.

Vicki and Sylvester Schieber of Chevy Chase and Mary and Chris Wilson of Frederick say they have come to feel that pursuing death for the murderers would aggravate, not heal their pain.

They have shared their stories at forums across the country and most recently at one at St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church in Frederick.

The Schiebers’ 23-year-old daughter, Shannon, was raped and murdered in 1998 while she was a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, after graduating in three years from Duke University. Shannon had majored in mathematics, economics and philosophy, earning a 3.6 grade-point average.

“She was just unbelievable from day one,” Mrs. Schieber said.

Despite their loss, the Schiebers fought prosecutors’ attempt to execute their daughter’s killer, believing that seeking the death penalty would only have satisfied their selfish need for revenge.

“We had to be above all that,” Mrs. Schieber said.

Mr. Wilson’s father was killed in 1994 when a man broke into his home. The Wilsons said they also decided to oppose seeking the death penalty for the killer, though the decision was not an easy one.

“It stressed our family to no end,” Mrs. Wilson said.

“There’s a fine line between justice and vengeance and anger,” she told the group in Frederick. “By killing one guy, you’re not going to bring back the other.”

The Schiebers and the Wilsons said they do not regret giving their loved ones’ killers the chance to live. Holding on to anger does nothing but cause damage, Mrs. Wilson said.

Every day, said Mrs. Schieber, she and her husband try to honor their daughter by striving to make a difference in the lives of other people.