DRACUT -- Among other business taken up by the Dracut Board of Selectmen Tuesday night:
* Selectman Robert Cox opened a discussion on his proposal to write a letter from the board to state Rep. Colleen Garry and Sen. Barry Finegold and other legislators asking them to support a death-penalty law in Massachusetts "in special circumstances," such as what occurred in the April 15 bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
"This really hit close to home," said Cox, whose 23-year-old son Patrick was walking toward the marathon finish line when the first explosion occurred. His son was only delayed from being present in the immediate bomb blast area because he had the good fortune of getting lost for a few minutes in the city in making his way to the finish line, Cox shared.
In turn, Selectmen George Malliaros, Cathy Richardson, John Zimini and Joseph DiRocco weighed in with their opinions that they would also favor the death penalty "where there is overwhelming evidence of guilt of the defendant, as appears to be the case in Boston," said Malliaros, referring to Friday's arrest of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Watertown.
"The death penalty needs to be looked at again," said DiRocco. "There are some cases that do warrant it, and I believe Mr. Cox is on the right track. We need to send a message to the legislature that it needs to be looked at. In some cases, we all seem to feel favorably that the death penalty (should be imposed)."
"Overwhelming evidence is necessary to support it," said Richardson. "It does seem like there was that (type of evidence) in the Colorado shootings, and Newtown and in Boston."
Selectmen Malliaros and Zimini, both attorneys, said they hesitated to support the death penalty across the board because of the enormous costs of winning multiple court cases and appeals, and the alarming number of overturned convictions based on DNA evidence. But in specific murder cases involving extreme cruelty that are proven beyond a doubt, Zimini and Malliaros said they would support a death-penalty law in Massachusetts.
"What happened last week was abhorrent and the suspect deserves the death penalty," said Malliaros. "I work with a woman whose daughter, a young woman in her 30s, was the schoolteacher for that 8-year-old boy (Martin Richard) who was killed. That kid sat in her class day-in, day-out, and she cannot stop crying over it... We have all been touched by this in some way."
Cox was advised by selectmen to return to the next meeting with a draft letter on the death penalty to be sent to Garry and Finegold. "I'll do that. I've got some research to do," Cox responded.
In other business:
* Selectmen voted unanimously to approve a request made by the ownership of the Lin Garden Restaurant at 511 Merrimack Ave. to transfer its liquor license from Dalphond Enterprises Ltd. owned by Andy and Lin Chung, to Estogo Inc., owned by Lin Garden manager Steven Lin and minority owner Janet Cy Ng for a purchase price of $100,000. Lin and Ng already own liquor licenses at restaurants in Haverhill and Lowell, according to their Dracut application.
* Selectmen gave unanimous approval to Dracut resident Paul Michaud for a special permit for auto sales in a five-car lot at his home and two lots that he owns at 744 Merrimack Ave., totaling about 29,000 square feet with 200 feet of frontage on Merrimack Avenue. Michaud said his office entrance will be on Leavitt Street where he has 177 feet of frontage. Assistant Town Manager Glen Edwards informed selectmen that Michaud's plan was in accordance to the uses allowed in his zoning district and "will not be detrimental or injurious to the neighborhood in which (the business) takes place," wrote Edwards.
* The public-input segment of the selectmen's meeting opened with residents Joyce Andrews and Allie Tassone chastising the board for not supporting the $2.9 million override co-authored by School Committee members Dan O'Connell and Joe Wilkie.Andrews also expressed her disappointment with those selectmen who were heard at the end of their televised board meeting making sarcastic remarks about Wilkie's absence at the previous joint board meeting in which he had fellow School Committee member read a letter on his behalf. "You were the only ones laughing," Andrews told selectmen, suggesting they were making light of the school budget crisis. Board members listened attentively to Andrews and Tassone's remarks without engaging in a direct response.