AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Nine months after the murder of Father Rene Robert, Steven Murray is facing the death penalty But some church officials are coming to Murray's defense, saying he should not be sentenced to death if convicted. They gathered outside the Richmond County courthouse Tuesday afternoon to make their case.
Murray could be facing life in prison along with the possibility of the death penalty. Bishops are saying that Murray shouldn't face capital punishment. Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Felipe Estevez says,"Imposing a sentence of death as a consequence of killing only perpetuates the cycle of violence in our community"
Back in 1995, Robert signed a legal document saying that if he were ever murdered, he would not want his killer to be sentenced to death. "Society remain safe when violent criminals are in prison for life without parole."
Bishop Felipe Estevez says they aren't asking for a slap on the wrist. Instead, a chance for Murray to realize his sins while spending the rest of his life in prison without parole.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Archdiocese of Atlanta says "Honor that last request which father robe wrote over two decades ago probably not until separating that it will see the light of the day under the circumstances."
If prosecutors do not accept their request, Archbishop Wilton Gregory says they will continue to rely on their faith. "What will happen is we'll have to work harder. what we're doing is trying to raise this as a point of awareness for all our people."
The bishops spoke with the new District Attorney and the Superior Court Judge who is overseeing the Murray trial. There is no word yet on whether they will be dropping the death penalty. Murray is due back in court within the next couple of months for another hearing.