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Shropshire man's death row pen pal given new execution date

By Jordan Reynolds | Bishop's Castle | News | Published:

A Quaker from Bishop's Castle has said his death row pen pal of 26 years has been given a new execution date.

Bishop's Castle Quaker Jan Arriens, left, and death row prisoner Michael Lambrix

Jan Arriens said convicted murderer Michael Lambrix is due to be killed next month.

Mr Arriens, a retired translator, founded LifeLines, which supports prisoners on death row through letters.

He said that initially Lambrix, now aged 57, did not want a pen pal but that they ended up chatting.

He said: "I was putting together a book on people from death row and I asked him if he wanted a pen pal and he said no but we kept chatting.

"We've probably exchanged the best part of 500 letters.

"He's been on death row for 33 years and if his execution goes ahead he will have served longer than all but a handful of people in human history."

Lambrix, a father of three, was found guilty of two counts of murder in 1984.

His new execution date is October 5.

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Mr Arriens said: "He's an exceptionally intelligent man with a very tragic story. If he'd had different circumstances it would have been so different.

"It'd be a big gap for me if he's executed. We write at considerable length and I respect him. He's become a friend over the years and it'll be a very strange feeling.

"We share a interest in philosophical questions, religious questions, politics and he writes about his legal moves and his appeals.

"He was nearly executed last year but got a stay and now a year and a half later this is the fourth execution date.

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"Sometimes they get a stay literally minutes before they were due to be executed, but it doesn't feel good this time. I'm reluctantly expecting it to go ahead.

"I've met him four times, I went out last year when he was nearly executed and saw him with his family in a death watch cell."

Lambrix has now gone on hunger strike to highlight his case, as he has always maintained he is only guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Arriens added: "This time he has gone on hunger strike and has been for a week now to draw attention to his case as he maintains it was self defence.

"I've read a great deal and spoke with him and his lawyers and there's a lot of doubt as there's no witnesses and no forensic evidence. To me, his variation of events holds together better than the state's.

"When my friends and family first found out I was writing to him there were some raised eyebrows, but now 30 years later they're used to it.

"I think it's helped him enormously as he's in a situation of extreme isolation. They spend almost all of their time in a call and it's difficult to communicate with other prisoners.

"In a recent letter he said to me that he has been incredibly blessed to have known me for these years, it does mean a lot to him."

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Reporter for the Shropshire Star covering Bridgnorth and the surrounding areas.

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