WASHINGTON – Days before a Hispanic drug dealer is to be executed in the same chamber as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, death penalty advocates told members of Congress that racism doesn't exist in the federal death penalty system.
``In my experience for seven years as a federal prosecutor, I saw no evidence that the race of defendants or victims had any overt or covert influence on this process,'' said Andrew McBride, former Virginia federal prosecutor who testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Wednesday. ``I believe the charge is fabricated by those who wish to block enforcement of the federal death penalty for other reasons.''
Juan Raul Garza, 44, is a convicted drug runner who killed one man and ordered the deaths of two others he thought were informers. His lawyers argue that he should be spared because there are more Hispanics and blacks on federal death row than whites.
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., a death penalty opponent, said Wednesday that 17 of the remaining 19 federal death row inmates are minorities, 14 of whom are black. Besides Garza, no other death row inmates have executions scheduled. Monday's execution of McVeigh was the first time the federal death penalty has been carried out in 38 years.