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 murder vigilante spree.
“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.”
The full statement of 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 God’s 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 6:00 p.m. at St. Mary Cathedral, 7525 N. W. 2nd Avenue, Miami, Florida. For further information on the vigil, contact Juan Di Prado at the Archdiocese of Miami, (305) 762-1046.”
About the condemned:
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 Musa’s 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 couldn’t tell right from wrong.
“Over Gurlanick’s objections, Pardo insisted on testifying at his trial, telling jurors that he enjoyed killing people and wished he could have murdered more.
“‘They’re parasites and they’re leeches, and they have no right to be alive,’ he said in court. ‘Somebody had to kill these people.’”