VA Candidates’ Death Penalty Duel Grows More Intense


Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Timothy Kaine says he had virtually no role in the federal appeal of a killer featured in a controversial television commercial by Republican Jerry Kilgore, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Kilgore’s ad accuses his opponent of trying to save murderer Mark Sheppard from the death chamber. Kaine, saying he spent 48 minutes out of 1,000 hours his firm worked on the case, said Kilgore and his handlers “have no ethical bounds they won’t cross.”

The Kilgore ad features an angry, grief-stricken father of a drug-using man shot dead with his wife in a cocaine deal with Sheppard. Said Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh: “He lent his name and prestige as an anti-death penalty lawyer to the case.” Kilgore as a local and federal prosecutor never handled a capital-murder case. Kilgore, a former attorney general, said the principal concern of Virginians, who overwhelmingly support capital punishment, is that Kaine defended killers: “That’s the issue. He can’t escape it.”


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