Before commuting death sentence, Markell met with victim’s family

On Monday, the night before announcing his decision to commute Robert Gattis’ death sentence to life in prison, Delaware Governor Jack Markell visited with victim Shirley Slay’s family.

“It was a very difficult thing to do and I went and apologized to them, but I told them that I wanted them to hear it from me personally.”

A judgement call Markell says he felt was the right thing in this case.

“I lost plenty of sleep over it. I read everything very carefully, I prayed about it and it was just, it was an incredibly difficult decision because of the impact on the family of Shirley Slay,” said Markell. “In the end, I know, there’s a lot of people unhappy about it, but in the end I just was not prepared to go through.”

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As for Shirley Slay’s mother, father and brother, The News Journal reports the Slays, who Markell describes as a “people of faith,” accept the Governor’s decision. 

“I said I know perhaps you won’t be prepared to accept it, and I understand that, but I just, again, wanted to reach out to them personally.”

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