Victim’s mother reacts to Gov. Newsom’s new death penalty order

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – There’s more reaction following Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to order a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Danielle Van Dam, the mother of the 7 year old Sabre Springs girl who was abducted and killed in 2002 said she was frustrated and confused by the Governor’s decision.

A jury convicted David Alan Westerfield of murder and sentenced him to the death penalty.

In an exclusive interview with KUSI, Brenda Van Dam said she did not understand the Governor’s executive order.

In 2012 and again in 2016, California voters rejected ballot propositions that would have abolished the death penalty. Van Dam said the Governor needs to listen to the voters.

“He says it goes against ‘bedrock values’. Well the voters have voted and they told you what we want. Those are our values,” Van Dam said.

She said she does not think her views of the death penalty would change, although she said she’s torn when she considers the impact on taxpayers, “because it’s very expensive for the taxpayers, although it is reserved for the worst of the worse. And there’s nothing really happening in that system anyway. So, in my eyes, it’s a huge waste of money. Why are we wasting time trying these people for the death penalty, give them their appeals, if we’re not going to follow through on the process?”

Westerfield is locked up in the prison at San Quentin and Van Dam said she’s certain that’s where her daughter’s killer will die.

The State of California has not put any inmates to death since 2006, because of legal challenges to the state’s method of execution through lethal injection.

“Honestly, I feel the longer he’s in his box, he’s being tortured. I hate to say this as a person, but whatever is worse for him is better for me,” Van Dam said.

The Governor’s executive order is a temporary reprieve which will expire when he leaves office.

The question of whether the death penalty should be abolished permanently in California could resurface shortly. State lawmakers are working on another ballot proposition that may go to the voters in 2020.

Three other states have imposed moratorium on the death penalty; Colorado, Oregon and Pennsylvania.


Related stories:

Gov. Newsom signs executive order that stops the use of the death penalty

Jan Goldsmith: Gov. Newsom uses executive order to stop death penalty

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