1986 murder victim's parents fear killer will outlive them on de - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

1986 murder victim's parents fear killer will outlive them on death row

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Robert Haberstroh was sentenced to death for killing Donna Kitowski in 1986. Robert Haberstroh was sentenced to death for killing Donna Kitowski in 1986.
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Javier Righetti was sentenced to death Tuesday for the murder and rape of valley teen Alyssa Otremba. Righetti is now one of 83 people in Nevada waiting to be executed.

But being sentenced to death in Nevada often means convicts will die on death row. The last time the state executed someone was more than a decade ago.

For the victims’ families, the death penalty can mean a case will never really feel closed.

Donna Kitowski’s parents said even as a toddler, she was something special.

“(My wife Frances) had Robert and Donna before we got married and when I started dating (Frances) I just fell in love with Donna,” Donna’s step-father Joseph Kitowski said. “I just loved that little girl.” “She was so cute, I guess I liked the way she picked on me.”

From a young age, Donna was maternal, and would take care of her siblings.

At age 18, she had a child of her own, Brad. But she didn’t get to see him grow up.

“She just had (her 20th) birthday. Two weeks later she was killed.”

The Kitowskis said they remember the last time they saw Donna.

“Donna and her boyfriend came over to the house and she sat down and told me she was going to be murdered,” Frances Kitowski, Donna’s mother, said. “I told her it was a bad dream … She said it was real.” “I didn’t listen to her.”

Donna left her parents’ house, went home, and decided to run to the store.

“It was just to pick up cookie stuff to make cookies for Brad,” Frances said.

Donna never got to make those cookies for her son. She was never seen alive again.

“It was (a) Monday, 1:00 p.m., and we got a call they found a girl,” Frances said.

It was summer and Donna had been left in 115 degree heat for three days. She was alive, but fading fast. She didn’t’ make it.

“She was a beautiful girl and she didn’t deserve to be killed like that,” Joseph said.

Shortly after her death, Robert Haberstroh was arrested for her murder. Joseph said he remembers seeing Haberstroh for the first time.

“I knew I couldn't get to him because there were three cops and they were big.” But I thought about it, he said.

Haberstroh was tried, convicted and sentenced to death.

“That should’ve been the end of it but it wasn’t,” Frances said.

The Kitowskis have endured decades of appeals and court proceedings.

“It brings back memories. Every time (we go to court) it hits you in the gut,” Joseph said.

Thirty-one years later, Haberstroh is still alive. The Kitowskis aren’t alone in their wait for justice. Nevada has 82 other on death row. It costs tax payers 25,000 dollars a year per death row inmate. That means Richard Haberstroh has cost Nevadans more than $775,000 and counting.

 (It would have been easier for us) if they executed him right away,” Joseph said. “(Donna would) be a grandmother now.”

The Kitowskis said they are fearful they’ll never truly see justice.

“I know I won’t (live long enough to see Haberstroh executed) I’m 79. And I’m in bad health and I will be dead before he is,” Joseph Kitowski said.

“Every time I pick up a paper and an inmate has died in northern Nevada, I pray that it’s him.” “You can’t forgive. It’s with you till the day you die.

Nevada recently built a new execution chamber that cost about $1 million. It hasn’t been used because the injection drugs needed cannot be obtained.

Next week, the state legislature is set to vote on a bill that would abolish the death penalty in our state. The Kitowskis said they hope that it doesn’t pass. 

Copyright 2017 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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