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Prosecutors still seeking death penalty, as Governor Shapiro vows to continue moratorium on executions

Governor Shapiro said in February he will not sign off on any executions while in office.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Lebanon County's district attorney, Pier Hess Graf, is standing firm on her decision to seek the death penalty against two of the three alleged shooters in the May 30 triple homicide in Lebanon.

“How someone else chooses to do their job doesn’t affect the way I choose to do mine," she said.

This comes four months after Governor Josh Shapiro said he will not sign off on any executions while in office.

“There are two critical truths that became clear to me in our Commonwealth—the system is fallible and the outcome is irreversible," Governor Shapiro said at a February news conference.

The governor has said his opinion on capital punishment evolved during his time as Pennsylvania's Attorney General.

While he previously supported that the death penalty be reserved for the most heinous crimes, he soon found himself changing his mind

“When my son asked me why it’s okay to kill someone who killed someone else, I couldn’t look him in the eye and answer that question," said Governor Shapiro.

Those two adult suspects in Lebanon, Alex Torres Santos, 22, and Ivan Claudio Rosero, 27, are charged with taking the lives of an 8-year-old, a 9-year-old and a 19-year-old.

“Those men and women who are in other positions, inherently political positions, they didn’t look into the eyes of that mother and have to explain your 8-year-old and your 9-year-old are dead. They’re not coming back," said Hess Graf. "I did. Police did.”

State and federal law prohibits prosecutors from seeking the death penalty against the other suspect in that case, James Fernandez-Reyes, 16, because of his age.

All three men are facing three counts of criminal homicide, among other charges.

Hess Graf says it’s also possible Shapiro won’t be governor by the time these cases reach the point of trial.

“Death penalty cases take longer," she explained. "There’s another additional phase in a trial besides guilt or innocence. It’s up to a jury for life or death.”

Hess Graf isn’t the only prosecutor to make this decision lately.

The Lancaster County District Attorney is also seeking the death penalty against Jason Shackelford, who’s charged with raping and killing a 12-year-old girl earlier this year.

Governor Shapiro is also calling on state lawmakers to abolish the death penalty in Pennsylvania completely.

FOX43 reached out to both the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office and the Shapiro administration for comment on this story.

Neither returned our request for comment.

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