I'll be getting back into my usual swing of things later today, but until then here's a story from my hometown paper that caught my interest. I'll highlight the relevant bits:
The convicted murderer, a Staten Islander, was eager to die rather than rot behind bars. But the governor, a Catholic, adamantly opposed capital punishment.
So Mario Cuomo pulled every string in his political cabinet to keep 32-year-old Thomas Grasso of St. George alive to serve a sentence of 20 years to life for the 1991 strangling of an elderly St. George man, rather than see him extradited to Oklahoma, where he faced certain execution for murdering an 87-year-old Tulsa woman.
But then Republican George Pataki turned the capital case into an election promise and upset Cuomo in New York's tightly contested 1994 gubernatorial race.
In one of his first acts after being sworn in, Pataki signed Grasso's extradition papers, and on March 20, 1995, Grasso got his fondest wish in the form of an injection of lethal drugs at Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
He was the last Staten Islander executed for murder.
I don't agree with your conclusion that Thomas Grasso was a "Staten Islander". I don't have access to the records ( Ind. #240/91) but I remember that this Oklahoma killer was a transient living in a SRO on Central Avenue.
A reasonable definition of a "Staten Islander" should include, at the least, some recognizable contact with the Island. Mr. Grasso didn't appear to have any real contact with the Island except being physically there when arrested for the horrible murder.
As to Gov. Mario Cuomo's "Catholic" motivated resistance to the sending Mr. Grasso back to Oklahoma to face the death penalty, I question your definition of the then Governor's religious beliefs. Certainly, his opposition was his political stance on the death penalty but to equate that opposition to his religious beliefs is too much a stretch for me. If his opposition to the death penalty was solely "Catholic" than he should have been opposed to abortion. We know he did not oppose abortion and that appeared to be also a political decision.
I still hold to my position about Mr. Grasso; he should have served his 20 years in New York and then have been sent back to Oklahoma. He got the mercy that his victim didn't get, and he got that mercy for political reasons. Clearly Mr. Grasso out smarted both Cuomo and Pataki.
So much for my opinion,
Charles A. Kuffner, Jr.