RELIGION

Bishops to speak against death penalty in priest's killing

  • FILE-This undated file photo provided by St. Johns County Sheriffs Office via Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, shows Father Rene Wayne Robert, a Roman Catholic priest in Florida whose body was found in rural east Georgia, in 2016. Robert devoted his life to helping society's most troubled people, a mission that continues even after his death. The priest signed a "Declaration of Life" insisting that in the event of his murder, his killer should not face execution. (FHSMV/St. Johns County Sheriffs Office via AP, File)

    FILE-This undated file photo provided by St. Johns County Sheriffs Office via Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, shows Father Rene Wayne Robert, a Roman Catholic priest in Florida whose body was found in rural east Georgia, in 2016. Robert devoted his life to helping society's most troubled people, a mission that continues even after his death. The priest signed a "Declaration of Life" insisting that in the event of his murder, his killer should not face execution. (FHSMV/St. Johns County Sheriffs Office via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE-In this Thursday, April 14, 2016 file photo made available by the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, S.C., shows Steven James Murray of Jacksonville, Fla. Murray is a person of interest in the disappearance of a 71-year-old Catholic priest from St. Augustine, Fla. Murray was taken into custody while driving a car in Aiken, SC., belonging to Rev. Rene Robert. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty if Murray is convicted of murder which would be against Father Robert's wishes. (Aiken County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

    FILE-In this Thursday, April 14, 2016 file photo made available by the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, S.C., shows Steven James Murray of Jacksonville, Fla. Murray is a person of interest in the disappearance of a 71-year-old Catholic priest from St. Augustine, Fla. Murray was taken into custody while driving a car in Aiken, SC., belonging to Rev. Rene Robert. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty if Murray is convicted of murder which would be against Father Robert's wishes. (Aiken County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Jan. 17, 2017 photo, Father Heriberto Vergara looks at a photograph of his slain colleague, Father Rene Robert in St. Augustine, Fla. Last summer, after a multi-state manhunt that started in Florida and stretched to South Carolina, police arrested Steven Murray in connection with the 71-year-old Robert's killing. Murray led authorities into the Georgia woods, where Robert's body lay. Police said Murray had asked Father Rene for a ride, then kidnapped and fatally shot him. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty, a decision that Catholic officials from Georgia and Florida plan to protest on the courthouse steps. (AP Photo/Jason Dearen)

    In this Jan. 17, 2017 photo, Father Heriberto Vergara looks at a photograph of his slain colleague, Father Rene Robert in St. Augustine, Fla. Last summer, after a multi-state manhunt that started in Florida and stretched to South Carolina, police arrested Steven Murray in connection with the 71-year-old Robert's killing. Murray led authorities into the Georgia woods, where Robert's body lay. Police said Murray had asked Father Rene for a ride, then kidnapped and fatally shot him. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty, a decision that Catholic officials from Georgia and Florida plan to protest on the courthouse steps. (AP Photo/Jason Dearen)  (The Associated Press)

Catholic officials from Georgia and Florida are urging a Georgia prosecutor to reverse her decision to seek the death penalty against a man accused of killing a Florida priest.

Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ashley Wright is seeking the death penalty against Steven Murray, who faces charges in the April killing of the Rev. Rene Robert.

Catholic bishops plan to hold a news conference Tuesday outside the Richmond County Courthouse. They note that Robert left a signed and notarized "Declaration of Life" saying that if he were to suffer a violent death he wouldn't want the person responsible to be executed.

Wright has said she considered the facts in the case and the aggravated nature of the slaying when deciding to seek the death penalty.