Springs' murder case drama underscores major dilemma

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.

By Bill Blomberg
Posted 8/30/00

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.

Please log in to continue

Username
Password
Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

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.


Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Springs' murder case drama underscores major dilemma

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.

Posted

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 even possible.

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 sentence.

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.

Comments

Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

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.