Teens' parents take letters to Schaefer Governor declines to meet with group JOHN THANOS--THE STRUGGLE OVER THE DEATH PENALTY


The parents of two Baltimore County teen-agers murdered by John Frederick Thanos tried to hand-deliver about 75 pro-death penalty letters to Gov. William Donald Schaefer yesterday but had to settle for handing them to his security guards.

After leaving the Court of Appeals in Annapolis, where they listened to arguments in a last-minute attempt to halt the execution, the families of Melody Pistorio and Billy Winebrenner drove to the governor's mansion, a half-mile away.

Ed Pistorio, his wife, Joni, and Carl Marty Winebrenner, Billy's father, said that after the governor met Monday with clergy opposed to the death penalty and told journalists he would be willing to meet with proponents, they were told by his security staff that they could drop off their letters and possibly have an audience, too.

Mr. Schaefer said Monday that he would not stay Thanos' execution but would support abolishing the death penalty in the General Assembly.

Mr. Pistorio said: "It shouldn't be abolished. We're victims of the past. But what about victims of the future?"

Melody, 14, and Billy, 16, were shot to death by Thanos during a 1990 robbery of an eastern Baltimore County gasoline station.

The slain teen-agers' parents were admitted to the governor's parking lot, but they were not allowed to get out of their minivan. State police said the governor was at a Board of Public Works meeting.

Lt. James Spicer, head of the governor's security force, told them, "He [the governor] already said yesterday that he won't stay the execution. He doesn't want to appear bloodthirsty."

He promised to turn the letters over to his boss and said the governor might meet with them another time.

Page W. Boinest, the governor's press secretary, later said Mr. Schaefer had not promised the group a meeting but had received the letters.

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