In ‘No on 62, Yes on 66’ campaign ad, murder victim’s mother urges California voters to keep the death penalty

In three online ads released Friday, Sandra Friend tells California voters they should fix the state’s death penalty system, not end it.

The 43-year-old mother has been a crime victims advocate since Robert Boyd Rhoades sexually abused and killed her 8-year-old son, Michael Lyons, two decades ago. She is now serving as one of the main voices behind a campaign that is working to defeat Proposition 62, which would repeal the death penalty, and in favor of Proposition 66, which seeks to speed up executions.

Voters will weigh the dueling capital punishment initiatives on the Nov. 8 ballot. Both would require current death row inmates to work and pay restitution to victims, but would take opposing approaches to what the measures both call a broken system.

Rhoades, who abducted Lyons on his way home from school in Yuba City, is one of 740 death row inmates in California. Executions have been on hold since 2006, when the state’s lethal injection protocol was challenged in court.

Friend tells viewers it has been difficult coming to terms with the fact that her son was murdered by a twice-convicted sex offender. 

“I am living a parent’s worst nightmare,” she says.