On Nov. 1, 1987, Steven Oken raped, tortured and murdered my sister, Dawn Garvin. During the two weeks that followed, he raped and murdered two other women.

Mr. Oken has been on death row for 12 years, and his death warrant has now been signed for the second time, with a projected execution date during the week of March 17 ["Execution of Md. Killer Ordered," Metro, Jan. 28].

Why would anyone want to spare the life of this convicted rapist and murderer? A poll last May showed that 72 percent of Americans support the death penalty. All murderers on death row were convicted by either a judge or jury based on evidence of their crimes.

Many inmates on Maryland's death row claim that their trials were unfair. Some claim that they are mentally challenged or that they were abused as children. Does that excuse strangling, stabbing or shooting someone to death?

Anthony Grandison, who has been on Maryland's death row since 1984, is one of the most notorious drug kingpins in state history, yet he claims to have a mental disability because his father hit him in the head with an ax handle when he was young. While Mr. Grandison was awaiting trial on federal drug kingpin charges, he paid Vernon Evans (who is now also on death row) $9,000 to gun down two law-abiding citizens who were to testify against him. That seems pretty organized for someone who is mentally disabled.

John Booth-El has been on death row for almost 20 years. He robbed and stabbed to death an elderly couple (Irvin and Rose Bronstein). He claims he was intoxicated and so shouldn't have to face the death penalty.

Enough. These people violated our most sacred law, which protects the sanctity of innocent life. Steven Oken took my sister away from my family more than 15 years ago. I pray that his death warrant will be carried out.

FRED ROMANO

Belcamp, Md.