Demonstration against death penalty held in St. Augustine

Worldwide 'Cities for Life' campaign aims to end capital punishment

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Many gathered Thursday night in St. Augustine to demonstrate against the death penalty. 

The demonstration was the third annual Cities for Life rally, a worldwide movement to end the use of capital punishment. 

News4Jax spoke with Darlene Farah before she spoke at the demonstration. The mother was outspoken in her opposition to death as a punishment for her daughter Shelby's murder.

Farah’s daughter, 20-year-old Shelby Farah, was killed July 30, 2013, while working at Metro PCS. Initially, State Attorney Angela Corey wanted her killer James Rhodes, 25, to face death. But Farah disagreed, knowing the potential decades-long court battle was something she didn't want. Earlier this year, she got her wish when Rhodes pleaded guilty in the killing and will now spend the rest of his life in prison.

“I didn't know a lot about the death penalty until the tragedy hit my household, and then I did my homework,” Farah said.

Time after time, Farah walked into a courthouse knowing what it would do to her. She said she is much more at peace now, forgiving the man who killed her daughter, and plans to make that part of her message at the event.

“Killing the person is not going to bring the victim back. To me, it creates more victims,” Farah said. “You're taking away somebody's father, somebody's mother, somebody's daughter, somebody son. That's what I mean by it creates more victims.”

For Farah, speaking at last year's rally was an honor. But she said a lot has changed in the last year. 

The group has also rallied to keep Steven Murray from facing the death penalty. He was accused of killing popular St. Augustine priest Father Rene Robert. The priest had signed the declaration of life, asking his killer not face death. Eventually, Murray was sentenced to life in prison.

Thursday’s demonstration was held at the Mission Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine, and started at 6:30 p.m.