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Peter Cantu
Peter Cantu

URGENT APPEAL TO SPARE PETER CANTU’S LIFE AND TO COMMUTE HIS DEATH SENTENCE INTO LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE

We are deeply concerned about the execution date set for Mr. Peter Anthony Cantu on August 17th 2010.
In 1993 Mr. Peter Cantu was arrested in Houston, Texas for his part in the murders of Elizabeth Peña and Jennifer Ertman, and in 1994 he was sentenced to death. We firmly condemn this act and express our deepest sympathy to the relatives of Elizabeth Peña and Jennifer Ertman. We do not deny the serious nature of the offence for which Mr. Cantu was convicted, and we are in no way trying to downplay the sufferings and pain caused to their families and loved ones.
However, we are particularly concerned because we do not believe that taking Peter Cantu’s life will ease their pain and suffering. We are ethically against Mr. Cantu’s execution for the following reasons:
We would like to emphasize that Peter Cantu, who has been on death row for over 16 years, was barely 18 years old at the time of the crime. We believe that a person can change and become much different after having spent such a long time in prison. In our view it is not true that all people on death row like Peter Cantu are so beyond rehabilitation, so evil and inhuman, that they must die. Exceptions are always possible. Therefore, we do not believe in executing a person who has spent 16 years in prison and may now regret his previous actions as a more mature person.
Moreover, we believe that the death penalty only perpetrates violence and creates new victims. Although he has been involved in a horrible crime, Mr. Cantu as well has parents, brothers and friends who love him and who would be devastated if his sentence is carried out. These people would as well be innocent victims because of Mr. Cantu’s faults, as Elizabeth Peña’s and Jennifer Ertman’s family and loved ones have been. Shouldn’t the State protect all its citizens?
Last but not least, we do not believe in the death penalty, as it is a violation of the right to life, the most basic human right. Human rights and dignity are inherent to all human beings, no matter what a person did. The State should not be the executioner of its citizens. Heinous crimes such as the rape and murder of Elizabeth Peña and Jennifer Ertman should be punished and the State should exercise all its powers to protect other innocent citizens, but this can as well be achieved through a sentence to life without parole.
For all these reasons we strongly urge the Clemency Section of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to demonstrate its respect for justice and human life. We urge you to take this important matter into consideration, to spare Peter Cantu’s life and to commute his death sentence into life without parole.


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