The editorial "On Death Row in Virginia" {Oct. 4} makes two arguments in favor of Gov. L. Douglas Wilder reviewing the death sentence of Joseph Giarratano. The first point, and the more objective one, implies that Virginia is behind the times in its appeals process for capital punishment convictions. The editorial also states that Mr. Giarratano has been on death row for 10 years. How many more appeals should he have?

The second point, and the more subjective one, speaks of this man's "remarkable life" since his conviction. Mr. Giarratano has become an "exemplary" inmate, according to the editorial. It appears that this rapist and double murderer is now not only polite, but he is smart enough to play with the justice system on behalf of himself and others as well. Does the fact that he's intelligent make him less deserving of his sentence? Isn't a smart killer more dangerous than a stupid one?

The editorial continues its defense of Mr. Giarratano by stating that he has been interviewed on national television and by the foreign press. It appears that this man should somehow be deified because a journalist thinks him worthy of a story. I'm sorry, but I just don't see the connection. I doubt the loved ones of his victims do either. DANIEL G. KAPLAN Wheaton

Concerning death row in Virginia, Post editors have it backward: it's not that Virginia is out of step with the rest of county -- the rest of country is just slowly catching up with Virginia.

In too many instances, the appeals process in death-row cases has reached as many as 10 appeals. In some of the cases, the same arguments were presented on each new appeal. Some serial killer/rapists may become "model" prisoners, but 95 percent do not. The juries usually get it right the first, if not the second, time. Anything past that is just an appeals game for groups opposed to capital punishment.


The editorial "On Death Row in Virginia" presents statistics on the number of capital cases appealed in Virginia compared with other states to urge Gov. Wilder to review the case of a man sentenced to death for murdering and raping a teenager and slaying her mother. The editorial also argues that Gov. Wilder should consider the killer's "exemplary and productive" life while incarcerated, primarily as a jailhouse lawyer.

If he reviews this case, Gov. Wilder should also consider two other facts: the number of murder victims resuscitated in Virginia compared with the rest of the nation and the contributions to society these two women could have made had this creature not so brutally ended their lives.