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Man's children plead for his life, although he killed their mom

Associated Press
Published October 26, 2005

RALEIGH, N.C. - The four children of Elias and Teresa Syriani once hated their father for stabbing their mother to death with a screwdriver. Now they're pleading for his life, convinced that executing him will only bring them more tragedy.

"We just feel if this happens, we will be devastated," 28-year-old Rose Syriani said Tuesday when she joined her three siblings at the Legislative Building to appeal to Gov. Mike Easley for mercy. "I don't know if we will get through this again."

Elias Syriani, 67, is scheduled to die Nov. 18 for the death of his wife, Teresa. She was stabbed 28 times with a screwdriver while sitting in her car shortly after filing for divorce. She died 26 days later at the age of 40.

Her then 10-year-old son, John, witnessed the July 1990 attack. He and his sisters, Rose and Sarah, testified against their father at his trial the following year.

But now they say it would be a travesty if the state executed Elias Syriani just as they have transformed their hate, anger and bitterness into forgiveness, reconciliation and love.

"Love is the work of God, and my mother was a loving and forgiving woman. So I know that came from her," said 27-year-old Sarah Syriani Barbari of San Francisco.

The three daughters, including youngest sister Janet, erased their father from their lives for 13 years after the death of their mother.

John, now 25, wrote to his father within a year of the murder and visited him once in 1998. Each sister eventually decided to visit their father at Central Prison in Raleigh last year.

Easley will hear the children's direct plea for mercy at a clemency hearing Nov. 8.

[Last modified October 26, 2005, 00:46:05]

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