Cote speaks out against Montana death penalty

Via the Char-Koosta News:
By Lailani Upham

HELENA — Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal member Diane Cote testified earlier this month against the death penalty before the state senate.

Cote’s daughter Tasheena was murdered in 2007. Cote said, “The thing that hurt the most was everyone kept asking me, ‘Oh are going to go for the death penalty?’ I just didn’t get it. Why would I want to go out and murder someone else after my daughter was murdered?”

Her emotional testimony helped veer the 26-24 vote, where all of the Senate’s Democrats and four Republicans voted to repeal the death penalty on February 14. The Montana state Senate passed Senate Bill 185 that would repeal the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life without parole. It marked the second straight legislative session for such a vote.

During the testimony Sen. David Wanzenried, D-Missoula, said the families of defendants who are put to death should also be considered. He asked other lawmakers to spend 15 minutes inside a jail cell before forming an opinion on the death penalty.

“For a punishment to be effective it must be swift and it must be sure and the death penalty is neither,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He added that capital punishment takes the focus away from victims and puts it on offenders while also diverting money from protecting the public.

Cote said that after her teenage daughter Tasheena was murdered in 2007, the idea of seeking the death penalty just piled pain on top of hurt.

“That’s not how I was raised,” she said, “to kill.”