Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dennis Fritz Featured Speaker at The Iowans Against the Death Penalty's 45th Anniversary Dinner

Dennis Fritz will be the featured speaker at the Iowans Against the Death Penalty's 45 th anniversary dinner Oct.27 th. Dennis Fritz, author of "Journey Toward Justice," the story of his wrongful conviction in the 1982 murder and rape of a waitress. He was freed when DNA evidence cleared him in 1999 after serving 11 years in prison. The other defendant convicted and later freed in the murder, Ron Williamson, was the subject of John Grisham's book "The Innocent Man."

James Benzoni, a Des Moines lawyer, will be honored at the anniversary dinner for his efforts to keep Iowa free of capital punishment. He once faced murder charges and became a lawyer as a result.

Others to be honored

In addition to James Benzoni, the following people will be honored:
• Former Gov. Tom Vilsack, who during eight years as governor fought attempts to reinstate the death penalty
• David Baldus , a University of Iowa law professor who conducted research on racial disparity in death penalty sentencing cases
• John Ely , a former state lawmaker who sought to abolish the death penalty in the 1960s and witnessed the last execution by hanging in Iowa in 1963.

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