GPD Honor Guard

Vote on death penalty was victory for victims
By George T. Yaros
Guest Columnist  [This article appeared in the Gary Post-Tribune in February of 1999.]

On Feb. 17, the state Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Procedures Committee voted against a bill to commute the sentences of those on Death Row to life in prison.  This is not only a victory for the victims, but a victory for the majority of people who want the death penalty in this state.

Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, was quoted as saying, "These men are not monsters."

Monsters in the true sense of the word don't acually exist.  The people on death row exist.

Every day these so called non-monsters can talk to their families, receive letters and if the prison library does not carry a book they want, the law requires the state to purchase it for them.

For the victims' families, they're left with memories of all those special times.  The victims of crime have missed children's birth, weddings, anniversaries, football and basketball games and graduations.  We must survive through the difficult times when just having them here to comfort you or hold your hand would make a difference — all the times when you wish you could go to them for advice.  Those are all the things and more these monsters take away.

My father and best friend was George Yaros, a lieutenant on the Gary police department.  In 1981, he was responding to a possible bank robbery at the Gary National Bank.  One of those so-called non-monsters Rogers talks about came out of the bank shooting.  With my father on the ground unconscious, this perpetrator decided to finish him off by shooting him point blank in the chest severing his aorta.

The worst of this scenario was the possiblity that had he not shot him in that manner (cold blood), my father might be here today.

My father was a strong man.  Serving in World War II as a paratrooper for the 101st Airborne Division, he was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge.  My father was taken prisoner by the Germans and put in a POW camp, only to escape.  He continued to give to the community after he came home by becoming a police officer.

My father and those officers like him put their lives on the line every day; these men and women are true heroes.

So you see, these men on death row are indeed worse than monsters.  All the so-called special interest groups trying to abolish the death penalty because they think it does not deter crime should put their money where their mouths are. Try helping all those people, young and old, who are having a difficult time following the laws; those who say their childhood was dysfunctional and the environment in which they lived made them turn to crime.

Why doesn't Rogers take a few of them into her home and rehabilitate them and give taxpayers a break?

Between 1920 and 1949, 51 people were executed.  This was back in the days when people could leave their doors unlocked, when parents raised their children to respect others and the laws.

Since 1950, only nine people have been executed in Indiana.  Let's review:  More executions, less crime; few executions, more crime.  The real reason the death penalty does not deter crime is because we do not use it.

These people sit on death row for years getting appeal after appeal.  Our family has been waiting 18 years for justice to be served.  You talk about mistakes and rehabilitation for these non-monsters.  Well, the "monster" who killed my father was given a second chance after he killed an elederly man in 1975.  The so-called experts said he was rehabilitated.  Instead, he chose to commit a crime again; this time he killed a cop, my dad, my best friend.

People are sick and tired of all the second chances and how the rights of the poor criminal have been violated.  What about our rights to live in a safe society?

Maybe if the system was swift and just, people thinking of committing a crime would think twice.  Then again, why should they?  They have people like Rogers standing there.  Rogers should do us all a favor and use her position as a representative of this state to represent the people.

The people want the death penalty.

George T. Yaros is resident of Valparaiso, IN.  [Note:  He is also, as is obvious, the son of murdered Gary Police Lt. George Yaros, and the cousin of this Webmaster.]

Yaros Family Plans Memorial Service
By Lori Caldwell / Post-Tribune staff writer
[10 Aug 2006]

GARY—On the 25th anniversary of Gary police Lt. George Yaros’ death, his family will gather at his graveside to remember their loss and pray for justice.

Yaros was killed Aug. 11, 1981 outside Gary National Bank on Broadway in Glen Park during a bank robbery.  The robber shot Yaros, then walked up to the downed officer and fired again, killing the veteran lieutenant just months before his retirement.  Rufus Averhart had been out of prison a short time before he returned to his life of crime.

He’s still alive, in prison, and the subject of a vast publicity campaign to set him free.  The Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments regarding Averhart’s sentence in June.  Yaros’ family waits for the court decision and hopes Averhart won’t be set free.  "This ruling these justices are going to make, it’s not only going to affect me.  If they go in his favor, they will use this in other murder cases, defense attorneys will try to get their clients free also," Tim Yaros, the officer’s son said.

On their way home from Indianapolis after the hearing, Tim and LaVonne decided to organize a memorial service on the anniversary of the shooting.  "I don’t want my dad’s name to be forgotten," Tim Yaros said.

The Gary Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 61 has the same wish.  President Del Stout and Joseph Hamer, a member of the state FOP, have arranged for a 21-gun salute and speakers.  The Lake County police bagpipe band will perform and Gary Fire Dept. Capt. Mark Terry will play taps.

The service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at his graveside at Calumet Park Cemetery, 73rd Avenue and Taft Street in Merrillville.  "This is a way we can show support for the Yaros family - that we as a law enforcement family are there for them while they are awaiting justice.  We will not forget Lt. Yaros," Hamer said.

Heather wrote on Oct 19, 2008 7:10 PM:

"I can remember the day that my parents had to tell me that my grandfather, George Yaros was dead.  I was 6 1/2 years old, the same age as my son today.  I remember thinking that he wouldn't be able to see me in the dress he and my grandmother had bought for my 1st grade pictures, or take me "bumming."

All I can say is that our family has suffered immeasurably from the loss of George Yaros and the ensuing decades of failed justice.  For what good it may do, remember this story on Election Day."



I would like to thank you for all the work and time you have put into this site for my dad.  It means so much to all of us and especially my two daughters who didn't get to meet their grandfather.  They both have read your site and have learned what happened to their grandfather.  This has been a terrible time for all of us, hard to put into words what I am feeling right now.  I was reading comments from the newspaper and your site came up so I thought I would read it again.  I also want to thank all those that made comments here about my dad.  It means so much.  Thank you again, your cousin Jane. (If you don't remember me, I'm Uncle George's youngest daughter.)
[20 October, 2008 11:05]


But of course I remember you, although I doubt either of us would recognize one another after all these years!  You could not have been more than 8 yrs. old the last time we laid eyes on one another.

I am humbled that you would take the time to thank me for what little I have done to honor your father's memory.  He more than deserves all we can do in that regard, and after all, he was my favorite unc!  It pleases me greatly that his grandchildren can, and do, turn to Dave's Den to learn about their remarkable grandfather.  It also saddens me that they have to do so.

Say hi to Aunt Ann, Barb & Tim for me, and give all my best!
[21 October, 2008 00:48]

Lt. George Yaros 

 Lt. Yaros Family at GDP Memorial Service  Lt. Yaros' only son, Tim

Ann Yaros, Widow of Lt. George Yaros (2d from left)                                       Tim Yaros, Son of Lt. George Yaros

Yaros Family Thanks Many Who Care
[28 Oct 2008]

The events that transpired on Aug. 11, 1981, have changed our family's lives forever.  For 27 years, we have fought diligently to keep three men in prison for killing our beloved father, Gary police Lt. George Yaros.

Although we feel as if justice has failed us in many ways, we must conclude that those who stood beside us will continue to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.  We still believe in the strictest of punishment for those who kill, and we firmly believe that those involved in this crime will have to face a greater judgment than here on Earth.

We will be forever grateful for those who have never left our side.  We want to begin by thanking Lake County Prosecutor Bernie Carter, deputy prosecutors Robert J. Neumaier and Kathleen M. O'Halloran and their entire staffs -- you have shown diligence, integrity and the unwavering will to see justice prevail.

We also want to thank the Gary Police Department for its continued support over the years, especially Joe Hammer and Del Stout.  You sat beside us in the courtroom and stood by our side at George's grave.

To our good friend Janies Starnes of Concerns of Police Survivors, we want to thank you and this wonderful group of survivors who love and support one another when sometimes you feel so alone.

Our family also wants to thank the many reporters of the Post-Tribune for keeping the people of Northwest Indiana informed of the injustice that has plagued this case for many years.  We especially want to recognize Lori Caldwell of the Post-Tribune for traveling many times to court to witness firsthand the anguish that families endure.

We want to thank the good people of Fort Wayne, who twice let their voices be heard that death was the only verdict fit for this killer, only to have the verdict overturned.

Thanks to Steve Creason of the Indiana Attorney General's Office, who also fought this case with relentless vigor for justice.

We want to thank all the area police departments for their continued support for one of their own, signing petitions and writing letters to newspapers.

Also, we want to thank our wonderful family, friends and neighbors.

Lastly, we would like to thank the communities of Lake and Porter counties for all your letters of support, your thoughts and prayers and for remembering the sacrifice that was made 27 years ago.

If necessary, we will continue to fight all the way to the Supreme Court to keep him behind bars for another 10 years.  May God bless you all.

The Family of Lt. George Yaros

IT IS EXACTLY THIS TYPE OF (insert your own favorite expletives) THAT MAKES ONE'S BLOOD BOIL!
[21 Oct 2008]

Victory for Zolo Agona Azania
by Indyjournalist
Saturday Oct 18th, 2008 12:18 AM

10/17/08 Indianapolis, Indiana-- On the eve of his third death penalty trial the State of Indiana finally abandoned their 27 year campaign to execute Zolo Azania.  Dismissing all the death penalty charges, the State agreed to have Zolo sentenced on his 1982 murder and robbery conviction.  Under the sentence imposed, with good time credit, Zolo will now be released from prison in 7 years.  He will be immediately released from death row.  Also, under the terms of the agreement he will be allowed to challenge his 1982 convictions in federal habeas proceedings.

This is a real victory for all Zolo's supporters and all of those who oppose the death penalty.

Below is a statement released by Zolo:
Media Press Statement by Zolo Azania

i am glad that the State has finally offered me this opportunity to plan a life on the outside.  i can use that freedom to work for justice for others, and, of course, to establish a way of sustaining my life on my own.

i feel that God has given me many gifts; and with these gifts then i would be able to take care of myself and do good for others.  i have matured in many ways over these stressful 27 plus years.  i see things quite differently now than in that early stage of my life.

i still resolutely maintain my innocence.  By this agreement the State gives up the death penalty request.  My next course of action will be to go on into the federal court system to expose the many injustices.  i will continue to contest my innocence in the murder.  i am angry over the numerous ways that i've been mistreated by the judicial sanction system.  i was illegally placed in this untenable position by the Indiana Supreme Court when they took back my dismissal of the case for fast and speedy trial violation, and authorized the prosecution to retry me for the death penalty for the third time!  Nonetheless, i will continue to contest my innocence in this murder.  i am angry over the numerous ways i've been mistreated by the system that some call justice--a term of relativity.  Therefore, the protracted struggle continues!

Thank you.

Zolo Agona Azania #4969
Indiana State Prison
P.O. Box 41
Michigan City, Indiana 46361-0041

  Rufus, you are angry over the numerous ways you have been mistreated?  Give me a break!  You are lucky to still be eating, sleeping and breathing; all on the state's dime!  Venture to cross my path and you will experience real anger!

You resolutely maintain your innocence?  You have been found guilty of murder, and pleaded guilty to armed robbery.  How dumb are you?  More importantly, how dumb do you think we are to fall for your tripe?

You dare invoke the name of God?  You had best be praying that your god is all loving and forgiving, because he is waiting for your arrival to be able to mete out the just rewards you have earned here on earth.  At the right hand of your god, also be prepared to meet Leonard Wick and Lt. George Yaros!

Someone who is far more sane and rational than I am at this precise point in time should write this scumbag reprobate and let him know that he should justly rot in jail for the rest of his days, promptly followed by burial without ceremony on the grounds of the only place he has ever been able to call home, the Indiana State Penitentiary, in an unmarked grave!

Back to: "Tragedy of Justice" - TOP


 = BLOG IT => [Category:  Officer Down!]

Created by G. David Yaros, Sunday, 7 March 1999 at 16:03:17 Hrs     Updated on Wednesday, 29 Oct 2008, 08:57:37 Hrs.

© 2008, G. David Yaros.  All rights reserved.