By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The governor of Delaware says it was a gut-wrenching decision to spare the life of a convicted killer scheduled to be executed on Friday.

“This was just a judgment call on my part,” Governor Jack Markell said today during a visit to Philadelphia (see related story).  “It was what I felt to be the right thing.”

markell jack getty 92389163 Delaware Governor Defends Decision To Commute Death Penalty For Convicted Killer

(Governor Jack Markell, D-Del., in file photo. Credit: Jeff Fusco/ Getty Images)

Markell (right) says it was a painful decision to follow the Board of Pardons’ recommendation and commute the death sentence of convicted killer Robert Gattis (see related story).

“I lost plenty of sleep over it,” the governor said today.  “I read everything very carefully.  I prayed about it.  And it was an incredibly difficult decision because of the impact on the family of Shirley Slay.”

Slay was the girlfriend who Gattis was convicted of killing in 1990.

Markell says he went to the Slay family on Monday night to explain his decision.

“It was a very difficult thing to do, and I went and I apologized to them.  But I told them that I wanted them to hear it from me personally.”

Markell acknowledges that the family wasn’t happy with his decision, but he believes they’ve accepted it.


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