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Press contact: Amanda Grady Sexton, 603-548-9377
Amanda Grady Sexton, Director of Public Affairs, NHCADSV:
"The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence calls on the Executive Council to deny the request of convicted murderer Gary Place for a hearing on his pardon petition, which will be an item on their agenda at this Thursday’s Governor and Council meeting.
In 1984, Gary Place was tried and convicted of the first-degree murder of his fiancée, Wanda Olsen. Gary Place had a documented history of domestic violence in previous relationships, and when Ms. Olsen tried to end their abusive relationship, Gary Place strangled her with his hands, then with an electrical cord, and then he stabbed her seven times in the heart to ensure that she was dead.
Despite current claims by Gary Place and his attorneys that he no longer poses a risk to the community, he exhibited a longstanding pattern of violence and may very well still be a danger to the public. Further, his attorneys and supporters have provided letters supporting the assertion that he has suffered from mental health issues, and that those issues played a role in his vicious murder of Wanda Olsen. The issue of Gary Place’s potential mental health issues, and whether they were to blame for his violent crime, were thoroughly examined at the time of his trial. A jury of his peers heard the evidence that was presented regarding his mental health and rejected this as an excuse, or even mitigating factor, for his murdering Wanda Olsen. It is an insult to every veteran or person suffering from PTSD to insinuate that they are dangerous, family-killing murderers.
Domestic violence is a serious social and legal problem here in the Granite State. In the last year alone, NH crisis centers served over 15,000 victims. Domestic violence homicides account for 62% of all homicides in New Hampshire, with the victims of these crimes predominantly being women. In the face of this stark reality, our focus should be on working together to find ways to prevent these crimes and to stop domestic violence in the Granite State.
Wanda Olsen’s life was deliberately, heinously, and with premeditation, taken from her at the hands of Gary Place. Granting this hearing request would set a dangerous precedent for other violent offenders and send a devastating message to all victims of domestic violence. Allowing Gary Place the opportunity to justify and minimize his crime will undoubtedly have an impact on future reporting by showing that offender accountability is not a priority for New Hampshire leaders—and that even when a finding of guilt for first-degree murder and a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole are handed down, offenders will not ultimately be held accountable.
NH leaders should not be diminishing accountability for those who have been found guilty of committing the ultimate act of domestic violence just because time has passed. Wanda Olsen will never be pardoned from the death sentence given to her by her killer.
The Coalition calls on the Executive Council to swiftly deny Gary Place’s request. We cannot afford to take such a significant step backwards in working to combat the pervasive crime of domestic violence in the State of New Hampshire."
About the Coalition
NHCADSV is a statewide network of 13 independent member programs committed to ending sexual violence, domestic violence, and stalking, through direct services to victims, community education, and public policy advocacy. The NHCADSV and its 13 member programs do not discriminate based on gender, age, health status (including HIV-positive), physical, mental, or emotional ability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, socio-economic status, race, national origin, immigration status, or religious or political affiliation. For more information visit www.nhcadsv.org