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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Kilgore gets negative with campaign ads; A1

One ad features the widow of slain Winchester police officer

Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

WINCHESTER — GOP gubernatorial nominee Jerry Kilgore intensified his attacks on his Democratic opponent’s views on the death penalty Tuesday by rolling out two new television ads.

Kilgore’s opponent, Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, has said he personally opposes the death penalty, but would follow the law and carry out the sentences if he is elected governor.

One of the ads from the Kilgore campaign features Kelly Timbrook, the widow of Winchester Police Sgt. Ricky Timbrook, who was murdered in 1999.

In the ad, Mrs. Timbrook faces the camera holding a picture of her husband.

“He was basically waiting for Rick underneath the stairs and shot him a few inches from his face,” she says of the night her husband was killed. “When they told me, I fell to my knees screaming.”

Also in the ad, Mrs. Timbrook faults Kaine for past calls for a moratorium on the death penalty.

“How could you not think the death penalty was appropriate? That’s not justice,” she says.

Edward Bell, the man convicted of killing Timbrook, is currently on death row. He was set to be executed in January, but federal courts stayed the sentence while Bell’s lawyers file his last substantive round of appeals.

At present, U.S. District Judge James P. Jones is considering whether to throw out Bell’s request for a competency hearing and allow the execution to proceed.

Bell’s attorneys have argued that there is no direct evidence that he committed the crime, and even if he did, he is mentally retarded and thus ineligible for the death penalty.

Kilgore represented the commonwealth during all of Bell’s appeals until stepping down as attorney general to run for governor.

Bell’s lawyer, James G. Connell of Fairfax, declined to comment on the ad.

Kilgore’s campaign also launched another ad, “Stanley,” in which the father of a murdered Virginia man takes Kaine to task for representing convicted murderers during his legal career.

Kaine’s campaign responded to the new ads in two ways — reiterating in a response ad their candidate’s pledge to follow the law, regardless of his Catholic faith, and mustering Democratic death penalty advocates to vouch for the lieutenant governor.

“My faith teaches life is sacred. That’s why I personally oppose the death penalty,” Kaine says. “But I take my oath of office seriously, and I’ll enforce the death penalty. As governor, I’ll carry out death sentences handed down by Virginia juries, because that’s the law.”

Kaine has called for a moratorium on executions in Virginia, but not by executive order.

Kaine told the Northern Virginia Daily recently that he is not interested in blanket clemency.

“The clemency powers are given for a very particular reason, I believe, to protect somebody who’s innocent,” he said.

That does come down to trust, he said, but “I’ve even given [voters] a clear yardstick to judge me against,” he said, pointing to his time in Richmond city government.

“When I was the mayor of Richmond, we had a prosecutor’s office that prosecuted cases capitally. I didn’t grandstand against them, I supported the prosecutor’s office … because that was the law.”

More specifically, Kaine Press Secretary Delacey Skinner said Tuesday that the lieutenant governor has looked at the Bell case, and unless the federal courts intervene, he would sign the death warrant.

“I asked him this morning [about the Bell case], ‘Would you carry out the death sentence?’ and he said he would,” Skinner said.

Some Democrats who back the death penalty get no heartburn from Kaine’s position.

Kaine’s campaign held a conference call with reporters and Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert.

“I’m an advocate of the death penalty,” Ebert said. But he said has no problem with trusting Kaine to carry out the state’s ultimate penalty.

“He’s assured me that he’s going to follow the law. He’s a man of his word,” Ebert said.

Ebert said he hasn’t always supported Democrats just because he is one himself.

“There’s times when I haven’t, and there’s times when I had to hold my nose when I did,” he said, but added that this isn’t one of those times.

“As long as he can follow the law, and I think he will, I’m in a position to support him,” Ebert said.

Election Day is Nov. 8.