Family wants killer to die

Victim's children urge the execution of Colvin-el as scheduled

`He murdered my mother'

Homicide was in 1980

high-profile rallies have sought clemency

June 03, 2000|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Lena Buckman's children issued an emotional plea yesterday for her killer to be executed this month, saying that Eugene Colvin-el is a career criminal undeserving of mercy.

William Buckman, 70, recited lines from his mother's favorite poem to describe her, and showed her photograph to reporters at a news conference in Towson organized by the Baltimore County state's attorney's office.

Buckman said his mother often quoted from a "A Few Words on Success," a 12-line poem widely attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, which describes ways to "leave the world a bit better." He said he carries a copy in his wallet to remind him of her.

"I want you to know that my mother was not just a statistic or a name," Buckman said, his voice choked with emotion. "She was a mother and a grandmother with a name and a face."

The event was organized to counter a number of widely publicized rallies in recent weeks at which Colvin-el's supporters and opponents of the death penalty have called on Gov. Parris N. Glendening to grant clemency and impose a moratorium on executions.

Colvin-el, 55, is scheduled to die the week of June 12 for the Sept. 9, 1980, killing of Mrs. Buckman.

Maryland's three Roman Catholic bishops joined a number of elected officials this week in calling for clemency for Colvin-el and a moratorium on all executions.

Mrs. Buckman, 82, a widow, was visiting her daughter's Pikesville home for the Jewish High Holy Days when she was stabbed 28 times with a kitchen knife.

Fingerprint key to conviction

Colvin-el was convicted after his fingerprint was found on glass from a door police say he used to enter the house. He also pawned jewelry stolen from the home.

Buckman, who flew at his expense from his home in Northbrook, Ill., for the briefing, was accompanied by his sister, Marjorie Surell of Baltimore, and Assistant State's Attorney Mickey Norman.

Buckman and Surell noted that Colvin-el had 16 previous convictions and that at the time of the murder, he was on parole for breaking into the home of another elderly woman, tying her up and threatening her with a knife.

Being imprisoned for that 1972 break-in taught Colvin-el not to leave witnesses behind, Buckman said.

"He murdered my mother because he didn't want to go back to prison," he said.

Surell, 75, added that time has not healed the emotional wounds inflicted by the killing.

"The grief is still as deep as it was 20 years ago," she said.

Norman, who has handled the prosecution since 1986, also released a report yesterday that he sent to Glendening to argue against granting clemency.

The 28-page report says that Colvin-el's record includes 14 burglary convictions and that he broke into four homes in the months before his arrest Jan. 8, 1981. He also tried to flee after the 1972 break-in by ramming his stolen car into a police car, the report says.

"If we're going to have justice in this country, then let's carry out the sentence -- that's what this comes down to," said Norman, who plans to witness the execution with Buckman and Surell.

Buckman and Surell said they have no problem with people expressing their opposition to the death penalty.

But they said they are "infuriated" by some of the claims made by Colvin-el supporters, including assertions that no physical evidence had linked Colvin-el to the crime scene.

"The issues they've raised have been outlandish and outrageous," Buckman said.

Race arguments rejected

Buckman and Surell also rejected arguments that race played a part in Colvin-el's conviction.

The jury that convicted Colvin-el in 1981 was all-white, but the jury convened to sentence him again in 1992 was racially mixed, Norman said.

"Police, when they went looking for the man who committed this crime, were not looking for a white man, they were not looking for a black man, they were looking for a man who matched the pristine fingerprint found at the scene of this crime," Buckman said.

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