before Christmas a letter came to Cherish
Life Circle from David Paul Hammer,
on Death Row In Allentown, Pennsylvania, requesting two things :
prayers for himself and his murder victim, Andrew Marti,
and someone to serve as a spiritual guide during the remainder of his time on earth.
of Mr. Hammer in Colorado was aware of
the Declaration of Life we celebrate,
expressing personal opposition to capital punishment,
and knowing of his search for a spiritual guide suggested he contact us.
This was a
new addition to our concerns which include
circulating the Declaration
and providing oppoetunities for faith sharing and discussion around the divisive topic of the death penalty.
We also provide occasional prayer services for families and friends of murder victims.
fruitless effort to find someone through
diocesan contacts in Pennsylvania,
I decided to visit him myself. On Dec 30, Edward Doherty and I met with Mr Hammer and thus
began our association, conducted primarily by mail. Soon after our visit,
he was transfered to death row in a Federal Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado.
been swinging on the pendulum between
wanting to die and wanting to live.
What has not wavered is his sincere, utter remorse and desire for forgiveness
for murdering his cellmate on April 13, 1996.
I have to
come to care very much about David Paul
Hammer, as has Edward Docherty.
"It is the
judgement of this court
that the defendant,
David Paul Hammer, be and is hereby sentenced to death.
It is ordained that the Attorney General shall release Mr Hammer to the
custody of a United States marshall, who shall, on January 14th, 1999
at 10:00 A.M, supervise implementation of the sentence of death by lethal injection. "
My name is
those are the words spoken in open court as a senior
United States District Judge in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, sentenced me to death on November 4, 1998.
My fate was sealed, a fate that was welcomed by me at the time, one I had even battled for.
Over the strenous objections of my attorneys,
I had requested an immediate execution date with no appeals.
In April of
1996, I murdered
Andrew Marti, who was assigned to share a
cell with me in the Special Housing Unit at the United States Penitentiary, White Deer, Pennsylvania.
With my own hands, I killed Andrew by strangling him.
To this day, I cannot attribute any motive for my actions.
If this rendition of the bare facts appears cold and callous,
it is because the act of murder by its nature is a heinous and despicable act.
not only ended
Andrews life at the age of twenty - seven :
they took away forever a son, a brother, an uncle, and any opportunity
for a reconciliation between Andrew and his father.
I destroyed lives, caused pain, grief, and suffering beyond comprehension.
etched into my memory as I listened to the
testimony of Andrew's father during the sentencing phase of my trial.
With tears silently flowing I sat immobile as Mr Marti candidly spoke of
Andrew and of how he had used a 'tough love,' approach towards Andy when he began to get into trouble.
as this man wept while attempting to read the last letter from
written only five days before he was murdered.
Andrew's written words were pleadings that he be given a second chance to be a loving son,
to make his father proud, and to be more than the black sheep of the family.
In my heart,
soul, I felt as if I must pay with my own life as a way
to help ease the pain I'd caused.
I wanted to die, rather than have to face a lifetime of remembering.
forty, having spent
twenty - one plus years being continuously incarcerated
(with the exception of two brief periods on escape status), I have grown up in prison.
My life has
been, for the most part, a wasted one.
My upbringing and childhood were marked by poverty, abuse, and many other of society's ills.
Nevertheless, in the end one must accept responsibility for who and what he is.
We all make choices : to blame other people or aspects of life is, in my opinion, a cop-out.
beliefs, my attorney spent days presenting testimony from family and
outlining the horrors of my past and the effects caused by them.
For me, it was like reliving a nightmare, as privately guarded family secrets were aired in public
and reported by the media. Once again, because of my actions, pain and suffering were
thrust upon my own family and friends. Ultimately, the jury, while finding
an array of mitigating factors to exist, rendered a verdict of death.
months which have
passed since the jury's verdict and the imposition of the death
an appeal was filed on my behalf.
I have come to realize and understand that in the eyes of God,
all life is sacred.
concern and understanding of family and friends it has become
clear to me that by dying I will forfeit any opportunity to make amends to those whom I have harmed.
With the assistance of those members of such organizations as The Cherished Life Circle,
Catholics Against Capital Punishment, and Murder Victims Families For Reconciliation,
I've learned my willingness to surrender to the executioners needle
will not necessarily bring peace or solace to Andrew's family.
as an intermediary, I am attempting to initiate a
reconciliation with the Marti family in order to express my deep
remorse and sorrow for all I have done to them.
I am trusting in God, in his love and mercy.
time I have left
here on Earth will be spent making amends wherever possible,
keeping Andrew's memory alive, and thanking God for the many blessings he has given me.
I welcome correspondence from anyone.
Paul Hammer 2450277
Federal Death Row Unit
PO Box 33
Terre Haute, Indiana