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Florida's Catholic Bishops Oppose Tuesday Execution of Ex-Cop Serial Killer

The bishops of Florida's seven Catholic dioceses have released a statement opposing the upcoming Tuesday execution of Manuel Pardo Jr., a former decorated Florida highway patrolman and police officer who killed nine people over a 92-day serial murdervigilantespree.

"While the Catholic Church recognizes that the state has the right to carry out the death penalty under certain circumstances, the modern penal institutions make this unnecessary as the public is protected from any further harm," the bishops say. "We believe that even though all life may not be innocent, all life is sacred. State sanctioned killing diminishes all citizens when the state takes the life of the convicted in our name."

A prayer vigil will be held on Pardo's behalf on Tuesday evening.

Who is Manuel Pardo? From the Associated Press:

"Manuel Pardo was a decorated Florida highway patrolman and police officer who went horribly bad, slaying nine people during a three-month crime spree after he had been fired for lying.

"Now, almost 27 years later, Pardo, 56, is scheduled to be executed Tuesday night at Florida State Prison in Starke barring a last-minute stay, fulfilling a request he made to jurors at his 1988 trial.

"'I am a soldier, I accomplished my mission and I humbly ask you to give me the glory of ending my life and not send me to spend the rest of my days in state prison,' the then-31-year-old Pardo told the panel. ...

"Pardo, a former Boy Scout and Navy veteran, began his law enforcement career in the 1970s with the Florida Highway Patrol, graduating at the top of his class at the academy. But he was fired from that agency in 1979 for falsifying traffic tickets. He was soon hired by the police department in Sweetwater, a small city in Miami-Dade County.

"In 1981, Pardo was one of four Sweetwater officers charged with brutality, but the cases were dismissed. . . .

"But he was fired four years later after he flew to the Bahamas to testify at the trial of a Sweetwater colleague who was accused of drug smuggling. Pardo lied, telling the court they were international undercover agents.

"Then over a 92-day period in early 1986, Pardo committed a series of robberies, killing six men and three women. He took photos of the victims and recounted some details in his diary, which was found along with newspaper clippings about the killing in his home. Pardo was linked to the killings after using credit cards stolen from the victims. He had become fascinated with Adolf Hitler, collecting Nazi memorabilia. His dog, a Doberman pinscher, had a swastika tattoo.

"'He was very cold,' retired prosecutor David Waksman told the Herald recently. 'He was doing robberies and went home and slept like a baby. He was proud of what he did.'

"Most of his victims were involved with drugs, officials said, and Pardo contended that he was doing the world a favor by killing them. One victim was a confidential informant who sold Pardo guns. Others, like Musas sister, were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Gurlanick thought Pardo was insane and tried to use that as a defense, arguing he couldnt tell right from wrong.

"Over Gurlanicks objections, Pardo insisted on testifying at his trial, telling jurors that he enjoyed killing people and wished he could have murdered more.

"'Theyre parasites and theyre leeches, and they have no right to be alive,' he said in court. 'Somebody had to kill these people.'"

{Source: "Former Fla. Police Officer Scheduled for Execution"}

The complete statement from the bishops:

"Manuel Pardo Jr., a former Sweetwater police officer convicted in the murders of nine people during a three-month period in 1986, is scheduled to be executed at Florida State Prison in Starke on Tuesday, December 11.

"Realizing that Manual Pardo Jr. wrongfully killed instead of pursuing legal means to arrest persons violating the law, the Catholic Bishops of Florida continue to speak out against the violence of execution and plead for life in prison without possibility of parole for Mr. Pardo.

"While the Catholic Church recognizes that the state has the right to carry out the death penalty under certain circumstances, the modern penal institutions make this unnecessary as the public is protected from any further harm. We believe that even though all life may not be innocent, all life is sacred. State sanctioned killing diminishes all citizens when the state takes the life of the convicted in our name.

"Our society is increasingly aware of the flaws of the use of the death penalty including the risk of executing an innocent person, failure as a deterrent and high costs associated with executions as well as the emotional toll on the victims families. The death penalty in Florida should be reviewed, as it has in several states in light of evolving standards of justice.

"We are saddened for the victims and their families who lost loved ones. We pray for them as well as for forgiveness and Gods mercy for Mr. Pardo. These crimes cry out for justice and this can best be achieved by keeping Mr. Pardo incarcerated for the remainder of his days on earth until his natural death.

"As a sign of solidarity with all those around the state in prayer during the time of the execution, the bishops have called for a special prayer vigil to be held on December 11, 2012, at 6 p.m. at St. Mary Cathedral, 7525 N.W. 2nd Ave., Miami, Fla. For further information on the vigil, contact Juan Di Prado at the Archdiocese of Miami, (305) 762-1046."

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