There is a drama unfolding in a Colorado Springs' courtroom that occurs all too often out of view. It concerns the case of George Woldt, convicted of …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2019-2020, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
There is a drama unfolding in a Colorado Springs' courtroom that
occurs all too often out of view. It concerns the case of George
Woldt, convicted of the wanton abduction, torture, rape and murder
of college student Jacine Gielinski in 1997.
The victim's mother wants Woldt executed. Woldt's mother wants him
to be spared.
This type of drama is common in most capital punishment cases. It
illustrates one of the strongest objections to the use of capital
punishment - that executing a criminal, no matter how much that
criminal might deserve it, creates other innocent victims, namely
family members of the guilty.
Gielinski's mother, Peggy Luiszer, distraughtly testified to the
three-judge sentencing panel about the enormity of the loss she
suffered as well as the horror her daughter must have experienced
at the hands of her tormenters.
The inherent evil of Woldt is not in question - his own mother is
Korean and apparently Woldt never accepted his Asian ancestry and
wished his mother dead for having had him.
This is clearly a troubled and extremely dangerous young man.
Rehabilitation is not thinkable.
But none of this can change the fact that he remains his mother's
child. To execute him would further wound her heart, if that is
Yet that is exactly what the state wants to do. Using testimony
from the victim's family, while perhaps therapeutic for those
next-of-kin, is necessarily highly emotional and inflammatory and
cannot be the basis for a policy or sentencing decision.
We can all well imagine the depth of suffering felt by Mrs.
Luiszer, and we can be sure that time will never heal her wound or
undo the deed.
Nonetheless, making Woldt's mother into yet another childless
mother is no solution.
Last week a teen-ager who shot and severely wounded a Lakewood
policeman was sentenced to the maximum of 16 years. His father
allegedly yelled threats to the officials promoting that
We cannot say here that the father is a gratuitous victim and that
the son must be released to appease the father's suffering.
Rather, society needs to defend itself from people like that kid
and if the father doesn't like it, he will have to come to terms
with his son's imprisonment as best he can.
Why don't we just say then that Woldt's mother will just "have to
come to terms as best she can" with her son's execution, should
that eventuality take place?
The reason is simple - while society is made safer (at least for
the time being) with the incarceration of the teen-age cop-shooter,
society is never safer for having executed someone in lieu of
giving them life without parole.
All that is accomplished is that an emotional desire on the part of
some for a pound of flesh is sated.
Timothy McVeigh committed one of this country's most horrific
crimes when he killed 168 and maimed many others by his bombing in
Oklahoma City. Surely, if anyone deserves to die, it is he.
But when we see the distraught face of his father in an interview,
we have to ask - should we make this seemingly average, good man
wake up one day knowing that his son will be put to death that
night? Knowing that his death will do absolutely nothing to undo
the crime and will do nothing to make us safer?
Executing criminals might appease some primeval urge for revenge,
but in this age where we have ample resources to incarcerate the
guilty securely and in perpetuity, it is extraneous.
We have to get beyond our emotions and stop creating new victims to
appease old ones.
Bill Blomberg lives near Parker.
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.