Saving death-row inmate William Andrews would be a "wonderful gesture" and memorial to martyred civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., a minister says.
The Rev. M.A. Givens, publisher of the Mountain West Minority Reporter, told the Ogden Area Community Action Agency's annual Martin Luther King breakfast he was not dismissing the "heinous crime" Andrews was part of - the 1974 torture-slayings of three people during a robbery of the Ogden Hi Fi Shop.Andrews co-defendant, and the admitted trigger man, Pierre Dale Selby, was executed in 1987.
Givens, of Salt Lake City, said that opposing continuing efforts to execute Andrews - the nation's longest standing death row inmate - "would be good for Utah.
"Utah has a bad name for racism . . . many people think Utah is a state of savages," he said.
Givens said that allowing the execution of Andrews, who has spent 16 years in prison, would fuel that belief.
Andrews did not shoot the victims, but did acknowledge helping to force them to drink caustic drain cleaner before they were killed.
Opposing Andrews' execution, Givens said Monday, would be a way to change the conception of Utah's tendency to "elect bald-headed racists to Congress."