Federal Jury in NY Returns Death Verdict

(Note: Links added and blockquoting fixed.)

A federal jury in Brooklyn has sentenced Ronell Wilson to death for killing two undercover cops a decade ago. Wilson was previously convicted and sentenced to death, but the Second Circuit reversed the death sentence due to prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments.

That sentence was overturned in 2010, when an appeals court ruled that prosecutors had unfairly tried to influence the jury in the case.

The court specifically faulted prosecutors for arguing that Wilson's claims of remorse should be discredited because he declined to plead guilty and refused to testify in his trial.


Here's the media: New York Magazine in its opening line reports Wilson's death sentence was overturned on "a technicality."

Ronell Wilson's first death sentence for killing two undercover cops in 2003 was overturned on a technicality, but now he's once again the first New Yorker on federal death row since the fifties.

Here's the photo of Wilson they ran beside their article. Here's what Wilson looks like today.

While incarcerated, Wilson impregnated a female guard. The prosecutor, in closing argument this week said Wilson manipulated the guard.

The manipulated a female prison guard, Nancy Gonzalez, into having sex with him and ultimately bearing him a son,

If the guard was a victim, why did they charge her with a crime? Why did she plead guilty? The charge read:

On or about and between March 24, 2012 through August 3, 2012, within the Eastern District of New York, the defendant NANCY GONZALEZ, while employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, did knowingly and intentionally engage in a sexual act, to wit: sexual intercourse with an inmate, who was at that time in official detention and under her custodial, supervisory and disciplinary authority in a Federal prison, to wit: the Metropolitan Detention Center (the "MDC").

The sole purpose of their tryst, according to court documents, was to impregnate Gonzales.

Court documents say that the relationship started in March of last year and went on through August. Over the course of three weekends, say prosecutors, Wilson and Gonzalez engaged in sexual intercourse with the sole purpose of getting Gonzalez pregnant.

She was recorded saying, "Why not give him a child as far as giving him some kind of hope."

Prosecutors are looking into whether Gonzalez carried on a relationship with another inmate at a different jail after her relationship with Wilson ended. She allegedly told the other prisoner, "I took a chance because I was so vulnerable and wanted to be loved, and now I am carrying his child."

Who manipulated who? Wilson is borderline mentally retarded, a hearing over his mental state this year took weeks. The judge ended up ruling he wasn't "mentally retarded" and could face another death penalty trial.

Gonzales faces up to 15 years when sentenced. Any bets she avoids jail altogether?

No one has been executed in New York City since 1954. The state outlawed the death penalty in 2004.Notwithstanding these numbers, he will be the 60th inmate on death row.

The feds have only executed 3 inmates since 1988 when the death penalty was reinstated. Among them: Timothy McVeigh, Juan Raul Garza and

There were 4/12 hours of closings. The defense argued:

He said Wilson was "born in the heart of trouble" to a drug-addicted mother and was the product of "barely functional" parents in a family that often resorted to crime and violence. His client, he said was "learning-disabled and severely emotionally disturbed" and never taught the difference between right and wrong.

"The answer to pain can't be more pain. ...What will Ronell Wilson's death accomplish? Will it chasten others? What will really happen if you sentence him to death is that more innocent people will suffer," he said, referring to Wilson's family, several of whom sobbed in the audience. "No more living should have to suffer. In the end, you'll find life in prison is enough.

"Let him live. It's up to you to vote for life."

After a month of trial and a 22 page verdict to fill out the jury returned its death sentence in 5 hours. As to how the voted:

The jury rejected arguments posed by the defense — that life in prison was punishment enough and that Mr. Wilson’s rough childhood filled with bad influences should spare him from death. Only one member of the jury found that the federal prison system could restrict Mr. Wilson’s inappropriate behavior.

Only two found that “Ronell Wilson’s life has value.” None felt that his background mitigated against the imposition of the death penalty.

Only two felt his life had any value? Ouch!

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    Life has value (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by indy in sc on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 09:48:51 AM EST
    How terrible that anyone gets to decide whose life "has value".  It is a terrible thing that he is convicted of doing, but life in prison would be punishment for that.

    How long before the death penalty is abolished in the U.S. altogether like most industrialized nations?  It's a real question.  Do you think it ever will?

    I never know (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by sj on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 12:51:48 PM EST
    what to say in these posts, although I read every one. We should be so much better than this.

    How did this become a Fed case? (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Visteo1 on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 02:14:55 PM EST
    I think I would have to be excused from the jury in a capital case.

    So would I (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Zorba on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 02:33:53 PM EST
    And if the prosecutor asked the right questions during voir dire, and you answered honestly, you would be struck from the jury, I'm sure.

    The Feds took it over (none / 0) (#6)
    by jbindc on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 02:22:34 PM EST
    It's was the DA's decision (none / 0) (#7)
    by jbindc on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 02:27:08 PM EST
    District Attorney Daniel Donovan had turned the case over to federal prosecutors in November 2004 after the New York state death penalty was struck down as unconstitutional.

    Still not understanding... (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Visteo1 on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 03:59:46 PM EST
    I live in a state without capital punishment.  What protection do the accused have against the case being turned over to the feds on any murder charge?

    Maybe because (none / 0) (#16)
    by jbindc on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 04:18:27 PM EST
    The victims were police officers and it was a pretty brutual crime? (One was shot in the back of the head, execution style, and the other one pleaded for his life).

    Here's something that might help answer how they decide.


    I don't understand (none / 0) (#18)
    by sj on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 04:31:52 PM EST
    at all why a police officer's life is worth more than any other.

    Not that your response actually speaks to Visteo1's issue. Your link, OTOH does speak to it. IANAL and I barely skimmed this but it seems to me that each and every category can be interpreted in an overly broad way.


    Because (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by jbindc on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 04:50:24 PM EST
    Under the 1994 Crime Bill Expansion, the federal death penalty was expanded to 60 different offenses, including

    18 U.S.C. 1121 Murder of a State or local law enforcement official or other person aiding in a Federal investigation; murder of a State correctional officer.

    (I don't know if that's what Wilson was charged with, but it's showing you why a police officer's murder could come under federal jurisdiction).

    I wouldn't say a police officer's life is "worth more than any other" - I would say that they have a greater chance of being put in situations where they are dealing with dangerous people (as opposed to you and me), ergo, there should be more options for stricter punishments of those who kill police officers.  (And before you jump off and try to accuse me of supporting the death penalty, or other such nonsense, that's not MY opinion of what should happen).


    You misunderstand (none / 0) (#27)
    by sj on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 05:12:08 PM EST
    I know that a police officer's "legally" worth more than the life of a civilian. I'm just not buying the "why". It doesn't compute at all. I understand every word you just wrote, but it sounds like so much gobbledygook that only makes sense if you look at it with one eye closed and your head tilted to one side.

    And I recognize that you're trying to explain it and not justify it, so please don't take it personally when I say that whole justification seems to me to be a huge steaming pile of BS. I think the real reason is much more tribal than that.  imo


    Shrug (none / 0) (#34)
    by jbindc on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 05:42:18 PM EST
    Seems pretty obvious to me.  If someone is willing to kill a cop, then it's also an assault on what they stand for - the rule of law. It also seems to me that if someone is willing to kill a cop, then they are probably the most dangerous of the dangerous and don't care about any law.  Murders of police officers also often (or usually) happen when those officers are in the process of trying to prevent a crime or apprehend a suspect.

    There were even calls last year in Britain to bring back the death penalty for cop killers.


    different strokes (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by sj on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 07:38:58 PM EST
    I believe it's obvious to you. It's BS to me.

    I guess (none / 0) (#39)
    by ExcitableBoy on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 06:26:00 PM EST
    a murder of a cop is considered an attack on the state itself.

    Although I've never believed that the death penalty is a deterrent, maybe they're just trying to put it in people's heads to put that weapon down, that "if I kill this cop they'll fry me", since in many cases the contact with police would be after other crimes that would carry significant penalty, maybe already life without parole. Most people don't murder cops because they're trying to avoid capture for minor offenses.


    I don't see it that way (none / 0) (#45)
    by chaking on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 07:36:16 PM EST
    It would seem like an attack on a cop would be viewed more as a self-preservation tactic than a flag that the person is the worst of the worst and wants to attack the state or whatnot.

    If you know your life will be essentially over if you're caught for whatever crime, the person that is putting your life in danger is the police officer trying to catch you.  It's purely self defense.  If someone starts randomly killing people for no reason whatsoever, that's the worst of the worst.  Or if they simply kill a cop to kill a cop, then yes, they are probably close to the worst - although they probably have validated the reason why the cop "deserves" to die and are only acting as the state does in capital punishment cases, albeit taking the prosecutor, judge and jury role all in one.


    Hear, Hear. (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by Chuck0 on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 02:47:23 PM EST
    "at all why a police officer's life is worth more than any other."

    I agree wholeheartedly.


    no protection (none / 0) (#58)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 01:22:01 AM EST
    former AG Ashcroft is the one who ramped up the usage of the federal death penalty in states without it -- at least a dozen times against the advice of prosecutors. More here. Yale law professor Jack Balkan on Ashcroft and the death penalty here.

    Here's one he lost in Birmingham:

    US v MATTHEWS--is one in which the local US ATTY recommended against the death penalty and John Ashcroft overruled him and directed a capital prosecution. Jury selection commenced on February 2, 2003. Along the way--after 6 weeks of jury selection--the government conceded that one of the three co-D's was mentally retarded and withdrew the death notice. Today, after 4 1/2 difficult and expensive months in trial the jury returned life verdicts in the cases of the 2 capital defendants.

    Here is a judge's rebuke of Ashcroft after insisting on a death penalty in a case in Brooklyn in which the jury returned with a life verdict.

    Here's one he forced into a death trial in Wisconsin. Here's a successful one in Vermont, the state's first death verdict in 50 years. Former AG Alberto Gonzales did the same.

    On why the feds fail so often in seeking the death penalty in New York: From 1988 to 2008, the Justice Department's losing record in New York: 19 to 1. Nationally, the feds win about 1/3 of their capital cases.

    Mukasey was a little better.

    The three people the feds have executed since 1976 when the death penalty was reinstated: Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, in 2001; Juan Raul Garza, a drug dealer who killed three other drug traffickers in Texas, in 2001; and Louis Jones Jr., who kidnapped, raped and killed a 19-year-old female soldier in Texas in 2003.

    On Death qualified juries.


    Well, (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by indy in sc on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 04:47:09 PM EST
    Sorry, but I just don't feel it's right to kill people?
    about sums it up for me.

    Look, I understand how you feel, I just disagree with it.  I will never agree that it is o.k. for death to be one of the available punishments that the state can dole out no matter how heinous the crime is.  

    I think it is unconstitutional and unethical.  

    I can't think of anything more wrong (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Teresa on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 11:24:09 PM EST
    to me than the US of America killing people in its justice system. I would never make it on a death-qualified jury.

    Even putting just one innocent person to death is enough for me to say it's wrong. LWOP at least gives an innocent person a chance, though small, of getting out of prison or at least saving his life.

    What's with the bloodlust these days? (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by TycheSD on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 12:18:52 AM EST
    I REALLY don't get how people can be so callous and unfeeling about fellow human beings.

    Missing link? (none / 0) (#2)
    by woodchuck64 on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 10:23:08 AM EST

    Here's what Wilson looks like today.

    sorry about that (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 02:20:55 PM EST
    I added links to the NY Magazine quote what he looks like today and fixed the blockquoting.

    To those who claim we shouldn't (none / 0) (#9)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 02:40:20 PM EST
    have a death penalty, I give you Kenneth MacDuff.  Why should innocent people die because we refuse to put the guilty to death?

    And I give you (5.00 / 6) (#10)
    by indy in sc on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 03:39:17 PM EST
    the innocent who have been put to death.

    Why should an innocent person (or in my opinion, any person) be put to death by their government?

    The death penalty is irreversible.  A person given life without possibility of parole will not be released to commit crimes again.  A person given life with the possibility of parole can be rehabilitated and become a productive member of society.  I happen to know a person who was convicted (and was guilty) of a murder he committed when he was 19 or 20.  He served his time (about 17 years) and upon release now has a successful business (yes, he is a tax payer), is married with 2 children, and speaks to high-school aged kids about his life and imprisonment.  He doesn't do that as any kind of condition of his parole--he does it because he recognizes the mistakes he made and the poor decisions he was making as a young man and he doesn't want to see others waste their lives.  If he plays even a minor role in getting one child to make better decision than he did, that would be a major victory.  Dead men can't help anyone.


    The death penalty isn't appropriate (1.00 / 3) (#12)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 03:56:40 PM EST
    for every murder, but surely it's appropriate in Kenneth MacDuff's case?

    Putting innocent people to death (although not yet conclusively proven) is a failure of the criminal justice system, not of the penalty applied.  It is no less egregious, IMO, to jail an innocent man for life than it is to put him to death.

    I think the death penalty should require a level of proof higher than beyond a reasonable doubt.  For example, the penalty could only be assessed if the jury found, with absolute certainty, that the person was guilty of the crime for which they have been convicted.

    But, as we say in Texas, some people just need killin'.  Kenneth MacDuff was one of those.  The world is better off without him in it.


    I thought they said "Shoot them all and let (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Visteo1 on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 04:09:37 PM EST
    G*d sort them out".  Probably a different state.

    Well, actually, (5.00 / 3) (#43)
    by Zorba on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 07:19:33 PM EST
    the original quote was
    Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

    "Kill them all.  God will know his own."
    Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars, 1209-1229.  
    We haven't come nearly far enough in eight centuries, have we?

    To even begin a debate (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 04:16:51 PM EST
    justifying the death penalty these things, at a minimum, would have to happen:

    1. The defendant would have to have provided as much money for his/her defense as The State has for its prosecution.

    2. Racism, and all other form of bias/prejudice, would have to be eliminated.

    3. District Attorneys, Governors, and all other politicians involved in the process would have to prove, "beyond a shadow of a doubt," that political ambition played no roll in their position.

    4. Forensic experts employed by the State, or Federal government, should have the same amount of schooling, knowledge, training, and experience as those employed at the highest levels of NASA, CIA, Congress, and the White House. Of course, their full services would be available to defendants.  

    And, that's just the beginning; let me know when that's done, and then we can continue.

    Translation (1.00 / 1) (#24)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 04:52:53 PM EST
    I will set impossible conditions for you to meet before I'll agree to capital punishment.  If, by some miracle, you happen to meet those, I'll come up with some more.

    We'll simply have to agree to disagree.


    Well, that's Texas for you (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by CreamCity on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 06:02:40 AM EST
    No, no, no. That isn't Texas, not all of it (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by Angel on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 08:58:47 AM EST
    anyway. txantimedia speaks only for her/himself.  

    No, that isn't what WE say in Texas. (5.00 / 2) (#63)
    by Angel on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 08:55:34 AM EST
    But, as we say in Texas, some people just need killin'.

    You do not speak for all Texans, only for yourself.  Please don't include me and other sane Texans in your barbaric beliefs.


    I don't lose sleep over the executions of the (none / 0) (#38)
    by magster on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 06:20:43 PM EST
    Ted Bundy's of the world, but I do lose sleep over the people on death row who've later been exonerated. If there was a way to ensure the guilty are guilty, I'd be less opposed to the death penalty. But even then, there's just a gross unsettling feeling of stooping to the level of the murderers to follow through on it.

    I think (none / 0) (#40)
    by ExcitableBoy on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 06:35:05 PM EST
    for those who feel the death penalty is valid, you can avoid the wrongful conviction. Sometimes there are no mistakes. With Tim McV, we know he did it, but we don't KNOW he did it. With Colin Ferguson, who killed 6 people on a train and was tackled right there, you at least know you got the right guy.

    He confessed. (none / 0) (#42)
    by magster on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 06:48:28 PM EST
    I thought the question was how many others were involved. And, he also regretted bombing after the fact when he learned there was a daycare there.

    Confessions (none / 0) (#47)
    by chaking on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 07:40:34 PM EST
    I have heard of many false confessions.  This one can be assured to not be false?

    Read the wiki.... (none / 0) (#49)
    by magster on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 08:03:12 PM EST
    That has some of his choicest quotes (I just read it to refamiliarize myself).

    ok but (none / 0) (#50)
    by chaking on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 08:20:58 PM EST
    My only point is nothing is certain when so many people are involved in the process, or if we actually lay a ground work down for what does constitute certainty then it's bound to be imperfect.  The likelihood we can be assured we are always killing the right person seems extremely small - small enough I would say we don't even need to talk about it - it's not feasible currently.

    Then if you do get past that fairly insurmountable task of certainty, you need to start weighing all the other points... such as, is it cost effective; what does it accomplish; are we actually safer; Are we doing more good than harm by going through the entire ordeal that would be necessary of a state sanctioned execution?


    OK. We are on same page then. (none / 0) (#51)
    by magster on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 08:29:16 PM EST
    Certainty is unattainable. From what I read, I'd say McVeigh 99.8% did it, but a tinfoil hatter could spin a theory of fall guy/martyr that could technically be possible. That's not certainty.

    From your link: (none / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 03:48:39 PM EST
    At least 39 executions are claimed to have been carried out in the U.S. in the face of evidence of innocence or serious doubt about guilt.[6]
    What do you say to those who see that many more than 39 people have been murdered by convicted but not executed murderers?

    I say that (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by indy in sc on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 04:22:25 PM EST
    some people are going to commit murders.  It is a terrible thing.  That's why they are the "bad guys".  That doesn't mean the state should be in that business.  How does killing a convicted murderer help the victim or the victim's loved ones?   It won't undo what was done.  The death penalty is also widely believed to not have any deterrent effect on others who might commit murder.  

    A recent survey of the most leading criminologists in the country from found that the overwhelming majority did not believe that the death penalty is a proven deterrent to homicide.  Eighty-eight percent of the country's top criminologists do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to homicide, according to a new study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology and authored by Professor Michael Radelet, Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Traci Lacock, also at Boulder.
     Emphasis mine.

    What, exactly, does it accomplish?  Take a look at the long list under the U.S. of people who were on death row and were later exonerated.  


    I don't think you addressed my point. (none / 0) (#20)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 04:41:05 PM EST

    I'm not sure (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by indy in sc on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 05:05:59 PM EST
    what you mean (maybe that is why I didn't address your point adequately).

    If it is the number you are talking about, I don't think 39 is any kind of magic number.  One innocent person put to death for a crime he or she did not commit is one too many.  Better 10 guilty people go free than one innocent person be put to death.


    and no 39 is not a magic number.

    The point is many more innocents have been murdered over the years by not-executed convicted murderers, than innocents executed by the state (your link happens to say 39).

    Would you rather have more innocents killed, or fewer?


    um (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by chaking on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 05:29:40 PM EST
    I don't think you're thinking this through completely.  If a state releases someone that would otherwise have been put to death, that is a state being ridiculous.  The argument against the death penalty isn't for releasing convicted murderers, it's for life in prison instead of death.  It gives you a chance to correct an error if there is one.  Releasing the guy you linked to was a screw up by Texas.  The issue isn't that he wasn't put to death, it was that he was released with what appears to be pretty much no supervision.

    I didn't link to anything, my comment has (none / 0) (#33)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 05:40:03 PM EST
    nothing to do with the release of convicted murderers, I think you are confusing me with some other commenter.

    Convicted murderers, even those on LWP, have and will kill other inmates, guards, kitchen workers, etc., and do sometimes escape and kill, though that would seem to be much less common.


    K (none / 0) (#37)
    by chaking on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 06:11:36 PM EST
    Only if they are secured improperly.  You are talking about operational issues that can easily be overcome.  And yes, I was referring to the original post and must have hit the wrong reply to link.

    So are you saying (none / 0) (#28)
    by sj on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 05:15:07 PM EST
    that in your opinion the State hasn't killed nearly enough people?
    What do you say to those who see that many more than 39 people have been murdered by convicted but not executed murderers?

    I'm saying there's an argument to be made (none / 0) (#30)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 05:23:30 PM EST
    for the process which results in fewer innocents killed.

    Okay... (none / 0) (#32)
    by sj on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 05:33:44 PM EST
    maybe so. But it sounds like a bogus argument to me.

    Think of the death penalty (none / 0) (#41)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 06:42:32 PM EST
    as self defense for society.  Legally it's permissible to shoot in self defense even when it ends in death.  Most of society agrees with this, although some would quibble based on the circumstances.  (Robbery doesn't deserve the death penalty, for example, but you can certainly be killed by someone in self defense during your commission of a robbery.)

    If someone is a proven murderer (and again, I would suggest that the bar for the death penalty should be higher than beyond a reasonable doubt - perhaps with absolute certainty or a high degree of certainty), isn't putting them to death a form of self defense for the State?  True, the victim didn't successfully defend themselves, but the State can assume that role on their behalf.


    txantmedia (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 01:31:44 AM EST
    you are done now. Please see our comment rules on four comments per day for chatterers and the definition of a chatterer.

    TalkLeft will limit commenters to four comments a day if, in its sole discretion, the commenter is a "chatterer,"  defined as one who both holds opposing views from those expressed by TalkLeft and :

    * Posts numerous times a day with the intent of dominating, re-directing or hijacking the thread; or


    * repeatedly makes the same point with the effect of annoying other commenters. (i.e. is a blog-clogger)

    A message will be left in the last thread that the commenter chattered on advising that he or she has been limited to four comments a day. All comments in excess of this amount will be deleted. Repeated violators will be banned.

    This is your warning. Four comments a day.

    Also, this post was about the federal use of the death penalty in New York for Wilson. You brought up some other death penalty case which is a distraction.

    You cannot dominate the threads here with your pro-death penalty views. You need to get your own blog if you want to do that.  I don't want your views associated with this site. I am willing to allow them in moderation, but they must be on topic and no more than four per day.


    Jeralyn, I apologize (none / 0) (#62)
    by txantimedia on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 07:43:50 AM EST
    I did not see this until I posted a response to another poster.  I will cease and desist.

    Disagree (none / 0) (#44)
    by chaking on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 07:27:58 PM EST
    I feel you're just grasping at air at this point.

    So you:

    1. Assume the person will murder again
    2. Don't trust the maximum security prisons with being able to keep someone away from others
    3. Know of a way to have absolute certainty a person is a callous murderer
    4. Can get more good out of the killing than not killing (this would mean that killing the person would not affect anyone else negatively, or at least would have a net positive).  And I would point you to family members; the person who actually has to inject, pull the switch or whatever that kills the person; the witnesses of someone's execution; and the general notion within our society that killing is justifiable.

    Can you jump over those hurdles real quick?  Please tell me how you can be certain of any of the above.  I'm sure there are more, but this seems like a good start.

    I think if society feels killing is a justifiable solution, then you are probably only going to increase killing, not prevent it further.


    No, I'm not graspoing at air at all (none / 0) (#52)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 08:34:25 PM EST
    In response to the four points you raised:

    1. In the case of Ted Bundy or Kenneth MacDuff, that was a given.
    2. I don't think it's fair to other inmates to have to live around a person who is a depraved psychopath who will murder without compunction any more than it's fair to ask society to do so.
    3. I believe there was absolute certainty with the aforementioned two as well as many others who have killed multiple people (e.g. Jeffrey Dahmer).
    4. Yes, you can get more good out of killing a Ted Bundy.  While his family may mourn his loss, his many future victims and their families will be spared the trauma he would inflict.

    Our society (and most societies) consider certain types of killing to be justifiable.  War is the most obvious, but so is self defense.  Punishment for murder can be as well given the right circumstances.

    Look at it this way.  Had Kenneth MacDuff been executed after his first conviction, 8 women would be alive today and their families, friends, etc. would not mourn their loss.

    Surely had he not been put to death after his second conviction, even more women would have been killed and more families would have suffered that loss.

    I see no way to morally justify that kind of callousness.  You can't on the one hand say you respect all life and then release a known killer on his future victims and use the excuse that we can never know with certainty.  Tell that to the victims and their loved ones.


    Disagree (none / 0) (#57)
    by chaking on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 12:45:32 AM EST
    1. I don't think it was a given, but I agree it seemed likely.
    2. I think that's an operational issue.  And we're talking a different population of the prison than the general population. They wouldn't be hanging out in the yard with everyone and would probably get extremely little time even out of their cell.
    3. Please explain how it was absolutely certain.
    4. His many future victims?  How did he escape a maximum security facility?

    Kenneth MacDuff should have never been released from prison and then you could say the same thing.  And I highly doubt you could prove with absolute certainty that MacDuff did what he was accused of.  I think life in prison without parole would have been appropriate when you murder someone.

    You keep going back to releasing known killers as a reason for the death penalty, but that's not the issue. Of course, you shouldn't release known killers - But if they are being released, it's usually not a "known" killer, rather it's someone the law couldn't prove was guilty.  And if that's the case, you certainly wouldn't be able to put them to death.  The MacDuff incident was not right - he shouldn't have been released, but that's not an argument for the death penalty.


    With respect to (none / 0) (#61)
    by txantimedia on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 07:20:31 AM EST
    number 3, there was no doubt that MacDuff, Bundy, Gacy, et. al. had killed multiple victims.  I don't think any reasonable jury would have struggled with an absolute certainty standard for assessing the death penalty in those cases.

    A standard such as that would certainly eliminate the many shaky cases that put people on death row yet still leave room for the truly egregious offenders.

    With respect to number 4, he doesn't need to leave prison to kill people.  Guards have to interact with him daily, even if he's in solitary.  And prisoners can be quite creative in getting access to other people; fake sickness to go to the infirmary, for example, where they have killed guards and nurses.

    These are not normal people.  They don't think like you and I.


    Your analogy (none / 0) (#48)
    by indy in sc on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 07:45:12 PM EST
    fails for several reasons.  I'm not a criminal defense attorney, but my understanding is that self defense applies in a situation where a person believes that in the absence of killing an attacker, the person would suffer death or bodily injury.  In death penalty cases, the victim is already dead.  Killing the perpetrator would not serve to prevent that.  Even if you look at prospective victims--if the perpetrator is released or escapes, the danger would still need to be imminent for self-defense to apply.  You cannot defend applying the death penalty because someone might kill again and you cannot defend it as an ex-post facto self-defense where they have already killed.  That's not self-defense, that's revenge.

    Not to pick a nit, but (none / 0) (#53)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 08:43:52 PM EST
    this is incorrect.
    my understanding is that self defense applies in a situation where a person believes that in the absence of killing an attacker, the person would suffer death or bodily injury.
    A person does not have to kill someone in a self defense situation.  The law authorizes them to use deadly force, which MAY result in death, to fend off the attack.

    I understand we disagree about the death penalty.


    In my head (none / 0) (#35)
    by ExcitableBoy on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 05:59:46 PM EST
    I'm against the death penalty, for all the usual reasons. In my heart, I think some people are evil F-ers who deserve to die.

    With this particular guy, I don't know if he should die. I do know that I don't care about his childhood. I don't care about his mother. I don't care how he looked then, or how he looks now (I didn't even understand the point of that). I don't care if his no one ever taught him right from wrong. He should have learned it from TV, like I did. I'll go out on a limb and say that at some point he learned it's not nice to shoot people in the head.

    Denver county seeking first execution .... (none / 0) (#36)
    by magster on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 06:08:26 PM EST
    since last seeking one in 2001.

    Black defendant and white victims, but as crimes go it is a pretty gruesome mass murder. Don't know if/what exculpatory or mitigating circumstances exist. Co-defendants pled out and are rolling over on the guy they seek to execute who supposedly did all 5 stabbings.

    I remember thinking that the defendants.... (none / 0) (#55)
    by magster on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 12:01:58 AM EST
    caught a break when I first heard this story, as had they been on the other side of Colorado Blvd they'd have been in Arapahoe County where the DA loves seeking the death penalty.

    I have a whole post ready to go on that (none / 0) (#66)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 27, 2013 at 04:20:06 AM EST
    I think it's a great example to see how Coloradans feel about the death penalty.Horrendous crime, gruesome stabbings killing the Korean-American bar owner, her employees and a patron, while an ATF informant watched. He split but met up with them later. He is getting immunity while 1 guy has to face the death penalty, 1 gets life, his brother gets 70 years, and the informant goes free.

    You can make a lot of hay with the jury over the disparate treatment, especially when the finger pointing begins.