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Veterans Ask Clemency For Condemned Killer

April 21, 1986 GMT

STARKE, Fla. (AP) _ A group of Vietnam veterans today asked Gov. Bob Graham to halt the execution of double murderer David Funchess and let the former Marine and Purple Heart recipient live the rest of his life in prison.

″David Funchess is a patriotic, decorated war veteran who has a great deal of remorse for his crimes, even though they were beyond his control,″ said attorney Jeff Thompson, a member of Veterans for Peace, in a petition to Graham.

Funchess, 39, is scheduled to die at 7 a.m. Tuesday in the electric chair of Florida State Prison, near Stark. Also condemned to die Tuesday is John Earl Bush, convicted of killing Evinrude heiress Frances Julia Slater.

Both inmates were expected to press appeals today.

Funchess was condemned for the murders of Anna Waldrop and Clayton K. Ragan on Dec. 16, 1974, during a robbery at a Jacksonville liquor store from which he had been fired for stealing.

Thompson said Funchess is a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder, the ″Vietnam stress syndrome″ said to have affected thousands of veterans trying to cope with their war experiences.

Funchess returned from combat with a Purple Heart and severe injuries suffered when he stepped on a mine. Medication for his injuries led to a heroin addiction, Thompson said.

″At the time of the crime, David Funchess suffered from a war-induced psychiatric disorder and resulting drug-abuse problem that few recognized as significant traps into which many of our servicemen had fallen,″ Thompson said. ″David Funchess would not be on death row had he not served our country in Vietnam.″

The Veterans for Peace began a vigil at the state’s Vietnam War Memorial in Tallahassee on Sunday. A spokesman for the group said the vigil would continue until the execution took place or a stay was granted.

Art Wiedinger, Graham’s assistant counsel, said he would meet with Thompson, but that many of the same issues were raised at Funchess’ clemency hearing May 17, 1982.