Mourners hold vigil for executed man Friday

19 attendees were against the death penalty


Rev. Charles Doyle of the Northern Indiana Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty speaks to death-penalty opponents outside the Indiana State Prison, Thursday in Michigan City, Ind. David Woods was executed early Friday for the April 1984 slaying of Juan Placencia. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond) Joe Raymond

Early Friday morning, convicted death row inmate David Leon Woods was executed in Michigan City, Ind. Woods killed Juan Placencia, 77, stabbing him 21 times during a burglary in 1984.

David Placencia, according to the Associated Press, said he cannot forgive Woods for killing his father.

“I’m not one to forgive,” Placencia told the AP.

But while forgiveness was not a theme with the Placencia family early Friday morning, that was not the case outside the Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington where 19 protesters against the death penalty were holding a vigil for Woods.

Glenda Breeden of Spencer was one of the protesters.

“Murder is murder,” Breeden said, “whether it was when David Woods killed his neighbor when he was 19 years old, that was wrong. It’s just as wrong that the state is killing him. In our opinion, that’s murder too.”

Breeden said she and the other protesters representing the Bloomington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty were not just holding a vigil for Woods and his family, but for the victim, Juan Placencia, and his family.

Breeden is wholeheartedly against the death penalty, saying it has flaws that profile prisoners through race and social class.

“Poor people end up on death row,” Breeden said. “People who have money can get the better lawyers and can buy their way out of things, but people who have no money are the one’s who end up on death row.”

Breeden said an acceptable alternative to the death penalty is life without parole.

Marge Steiner of Bloomington said she too was against the death penalty.

“The victims’ families I know will tell you that execution does not bring closure; it does not bring healing,” Steiner said. “It merely satisfies a lust for vengeance.”

But that was not the case for Gene Placencia, brother of Juan Placencia, who told the AP that the execution of Woods gave him peace.

“I have closure. I can finally get on with my life, raise my kids, run my business and love my family,” Placencia told the AP.

One of four students present at the courthouse, IU sophomore Abby Mack, was crying when it was announced that Woods was likely being executed at the time.

“I’m here to mourn this situation and just the situation that our society is in as a whole,” Mack said. “Think about the amount of blood (that) is on the hands of our government. It’s sad.”

Once the vigil concluded, Mack and her friend, sophomore Megan Hart, sobbed loudly while hugging one another. Mack and two of her friends walked up the street, holding hands and consoling each other.

None in attendance said they knew Woods or defended his actions.

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