Discussing Different Opinions on Capital Punishment

By: Alex Villarreal Email
By: Alex Villarreal Email

Next month marks the 25th anniversary of the abduction and murder of 9 year-old Kandy Kirtland in Bryan.
The man responsible was convicted and put to death by lethal injection back in 1999.

Kandy's mother spoke on Texas A&M's campus today about her daughter and why she's against the death penalty.
She and others very close to this case have different opinions on capital punishment.

He never admitted to it, but James Earhart was convicted of abducting and shooting 9 year-old Kandy Kirtland in the head in May 1987.

Brazos County District Attorney, Bill Turner, said, "Not ever quite crossing the threshold of her house, she was kidnapped and...hands tied behind her back with electrical cord and murdered."

At the time, Bill Turner was four years into his position as Brazos County District Attorney.

"When something strikes society, to that degree, it's something that stays with us," Turner added.

The first kidnapping and murder case to happen in Bryan-College Station is still making an impact on our community, 25 years later.

"I felt like a grenade had just blown out all of my vital parts," said Kirtland's mother, Jan Brown.

She shares how losing her daughter and watching James Earhart's execution changed her life.

Brown said, "The death row chaplain at that time...He stood there with his hand on Mr. Earhart's leg while Mr. Earhart died, because he did not want Mr. Earhart to think that he was dying alone. I think that's incredible. I'd have done it myself if I could have."

Kandy died alone.
Unlike, her mother, Bill Turner is a supporter of capital punishment.

"There is a group of people out there that don't have consciouses, that are violent human beings, that have no real interest in changing who they are," said Turner. "I think the death penalty is like a self defense in the community."

Brown said, "It's not about remorse. It's about they're redeemable."

She says killing Earhart doesn't bring her daughter back.

Jan Brown spoke today on Texas A&M's campus as part of a discussion with the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Brazos County District Attorney Bill Turner says the state pursued the death penalty for Earhart because they believed him to be a danger to the rest of the community based on Kandy's murder and past criminal history, including strangling two relatives.

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