Residents react to death sentence

October 14, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Yellowed with age on the wall of the Kittochtinny Historical Society's board room is a framed newspaper article about the last man executed in Franklin County, Pa.

William F. Reed was hanged in the exercise yard of the Old Jail on East King Street on April 30, 1912, for the shooting of his lover, Sarah Mathna. The gallows is still there.

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"Reed was calm, smiling and cool to the very last minute," according to the article, which described the hanging in great detail.

"I always find it sad when that's the only option we have. We all wish someone could be transformed and rehabilitated," the Rev. Jeffrey Diller of Zion Reformed Church in Chambersburg, said on Tuesday as the society's directors wrapped up a meeting.


Diller was commenting not on William Reed's execution, but the death penalty handed down Monday for Albert Ezron Reid.

"One of my predecessors was the chaplain for that," Diller said of Reed's hanging.

The day after a Franklin County jury sentenced Reid to die by lethal injection for the murders of his estranged wife and her daughter, some expressed sadness about the case, but no one interviewed said Reid's life should be spared.

"Sure does beat keeping them and paying for them the rest of their lives," said Nancy Burkey of Chambersburg. Like Diller, she is a member of the historical society.

"You're not going to rehabilitate a man like that," said Burkey, whose grandfather, Enos Horst, was the county sheriff from 1916 to 1920.

"I still feel that there is a deterrent in the death penalty. That in itself, though, does not deter those with murder in their heart," said retired Franklin County Prison Warden Robert C. Holland.

"There are a lot of vicious people out there," Holland said.

"As regards the death penalty in general, I wish one were totally unnecessary," said Chambersburg attorney Barbara Townsend.

"Here, where two people died in what appears to be a premeditated murder, if it can be justified at all, it can be justified here," Townsend said of the Reid case.

"In some cases, I think it's great. ... If he did what he did to that mother and little girl he deserves to die," Jim McReynolds, a truck driver from Chambersburg, said of the killings of Carla Reid, 36, and her 14-year-old daughter, Deidra Moore.

A group of men standing with McReynolds nodded their heads.

"He shouldn't have to wait 14 years appealing it," McReynolds said of the long periods inmates often spend on death row. He said the number of appeals should be limited.

"I think a lot of times they deserve it and don't get it," Murray E. Kauffman of Chambersburg said of the death penalty.

Reid is the first person to get the death penalty in the county in 21 years. Ronald E. Henninger was sentenced to death Oct. 10, 1977, but Pennsylvania's death penalty law was declared unconstitutional.

Henninger was resentenced in 1979 to life in prison for the murder of Debbie Kline, of Waynesboro, Pa.

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