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Children Of Man Scheduled To Be Executed Plead For His Life

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The adult children of a man scheduled to be executed next month are pleading with Gov. Mike Easley to save their father's life.

Fifteen years ago, the four Syriani children -- Rose, Sarah, John and Janet -- lost their mother. Now, they are just weeks away from losing their father: 67-year-old Elias Syriani, who is scheduled to be executed next month for the July 1990 murder of his wife and the mother of his children, Teresa.

"We're just begging that this does not get carried out," daughter Rose Syriani said during a press conference at the Legislature on Tuesday. "This is four lives that will be destroyed."

Teresa Syriani was stabbed 28 times with a screwdriver as she sat in her car with her son, John, in Charlotte, police said. Three of the children testified against their father either during the guilt or penalty phase of the trial.

After more than a decade of estrangement, the children, who are now adults, met with their father at Central Prison in August 2004.

"I've always thought of him as a murderer that took my mom. But when I saw him for the first time waving and smiling like a kid in Disneyland, I saw my dad," daughter Sarah Barbari said.

Over the past year, the children have developed a new relationship with their father. It is a relationship they don't want taken away, they said.

"I just felt deep down inside, no matter what, he's still my flesh and blood," son John Syriani said. "He's still my father, and one way or another I felt in my heart that God taught us to forgive."

All four children said their change from anger and bitterness to forgiveness and love is a "miracle" they believe is the work of God and their mother.

The U.S. Supreme Court and Easley will look at the law surrounding the case. Defense attorneys, who have lost their appeals in lower courts, claim Elias Syriani did not have a competent attorney at trial.

Syriani's attorneys said they have one more appeal to file with the courts.

On Nov. 8, they also plan to meet with Easley during a clemency hearing in which they will ask the governor to stop the execution.

Syriani is scheduled to be executed at Central Prison on Nov. 18.


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