Daily Herald
Looking for one more heroic juror
Published: 11/4/2009 12:16 AM

Three recent heroes deserve recognition for their refusal to sanction state-sponsored homicide in high-profile capital cases.

The first surfaced two years ago when this lone hero stood up against his eleven fellow jurors to deny the death penalty for Juan Luna, convicted of the horrendous murder of seven owners and employees of the Palatine Brown's Chicken restaurant. One can only imagine the enormous pressure exerted on our hero to sanctify Luna's early demise, but if heroic action was easy, it would not be heroic.

More recently, two more heroes stepped up to save Luna's accomplice, James Degorski, from execution for his role in the mass murder. Interestingly, both jurors were almost excluded from the sentencing jury pool by defense attorneys due to their position favoring the death penalty. Bravo to both for the courage to not only change their minds but to face down 10 colleagues bent on execution for execution's sake.

One more dramatic capital case has yet to be decided. In the infamous DuPage County courtroom, where previous DuPage County prosecutors tried mightily to execute two men only fools or the morally challenged could conclude were guilty, prosecutors again seek death, this time of the real killer, Brian Dugan, for the 1983 Jeanine Nicarico murder.

Reading the horrific accounts from the women who survived Dugan's youthful psychotic crime spree may sicken me but not make me aid man's insatiable appetite for killing his fellow man. While most of the civilized world and 15 states forbid this senseless killing, DuPage prosecutors display a zeal to execute that is chilling. Do we possibly have one more lone hero in the jury box who will stand up for a more humane criminal justice system? Voting no to death does much more good to society than it ever will to the man awaiting his fate.

Walt Zlotow

Glen Ellyn