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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts' Vetoes Death Penalty Repeal

Urges senators to stand with Nebraskans, on the right side of history

Read the full veto message here. Audio here.

Lincoln – This afternoon, Governor Pete Ricketts vetoed LB268, a bill which would repeal the death penalty in Nebraska. The bill also attempts to repeal the sentences of convicted murderers currently sitting on death row. Governor Ricketts announced his veto at a veto-signing ceremony held at the Nebraska State Capitol at 3:00pm today.

Governor Ricketts was joined at the ceremony by Attorney General Doug Peterson, family members of a victim of the 2002 Norfolk bank shooting, state senators, and members of the law enforcement community.

“Today, I am vetoing LB268 which would repeal the death penalty in Nebraska,” said Governor Pete Ricketts. “Repealing the death penalty sends the wrong message to Nebraskans who overwhelming support capital punishment and look to government to strengthen public safety, not weaken it. Under this bill, there is no guarantee that convicted murderers will stay behind bars for life or not harm other innocent victims.”

“The Legislature’s decision will test whether our state has the prosecutorial tools to manage the ‘worst of the worst’ cases. Their decision will determine whether the families of the victims of ten men on Nebraska’s death row will ever receive the justice meted out by a very deliberate and cautious judicial process in each of their cases. Their decision tests the true meaning of representative government. For these reasons, I urge Nebraskans to contact their senator, and ask them to sustain my veto.”

The Governor also pointed out that life imprisonment, as proposed in LB268, is not a thoughtful compromise because it does not guarantee that a convicted murderer will spend his life behind bars. The case of convicted murderer Laddie Dittrich demonstrates this. Dittrich was sentenced to life imprisonment, yet after serving only 40 years in prison, his sentence was commuted by the Pardons Board. He was then paroled, and shortly thereafter arrested for sexually assaulting a young girl. 

“Heinous murderers such as the ten on Nebraska’s death row have surrendered their lives by their own utter disregard for human life,” said Attorney General Peterson. “The state affirms this reality through a sentence of death. The state should not be deprived of its ability to carry out a just sentence.”

“I watched my daughter die over and over again on the security camera footage during the trial and then during the sentencing,” said Vivian Tuttle, mother to 2002 Norfolk bank shooting victim Evonne Tuttle. “The jury said my daughter’s murderer should be put to death, and I believe it is appropriate for justice to be carried out. Senators who vote to override the Governor’s veto of LB268 are preventing justice for my daughter and all of the other families from being carried out.”

“As I have been visiting with senators, I have informed them that the death penalty is an important tool used by prosecutors and law enforcement in tough cases,” said Pierce County Sheriff Rick Eberhardt. “Senators should listen to their county attorneys, juries, as well as judges. Do not second guess their work. This is a matter of local control.”

“The death penalty remains an important tool and protection for Nebraska’s law enforcement community that works firsthand to protect our state against dangerous criminals,” said Brian Petersen of the State Troopers Association of Nebraska (STAN)  in a prepared statement. “The deterrent effect of capital punishment protects lives, including the lives of our state’s men and women who wear blue. Law enforcement put their lives on the line every day, and they deserve every protection our state can provide to them. Repealing the death penalty strips away one of those protections at a time when law enforcement faces greater risks than ever before. STAN urges senators to sustain the Governor’s veto of LB268.”