I was there in the governor’s hearing room. The governor, secretary of state, and attorney general were conducting a hearing that would prepare the way for Randy Reeves to be executed.

After considerable talk among the three officials, Gov. Mike Johanns was left alone up front while the others went to the restroom. The hearing room was tense and quiet.

From the second row, I spoke loudly, “Mike Johanns, do you want to be the first governor to execute an Indian?” He didn’t respond, but one finger on right hand pushed against his cheek.

Then immediately, Frank LaMere, who was sitting beside me, stood and for four minutes sharply rebuked the governor for the bias and condemnatory tone of the discussion. Then fingers two and three.

Then Gus Lamm, father of the young woman murdered by Reeves, stood, forcefully spoke against the tone of the hearing and pleaded for forgiveness for the killer.

Then Audrey Lamm, now 21 years old with long blond hair, with a loud voice, chided the governor with disdain and pleaded for forgiveness for the man who killed her mother.

The governor seemed to be shaking in his chair, indelibly imprinted with righteous emotions, likely to be with him for the rest of his life. When the other two officials returned, they voted to have Reeves given over for trial and probably execution.

In court, Reeves’ lawyer found a loophole and was able to change the sentence to life in prison. He died recently in prison.

Don Tilley, Lincoln


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