Yesterday - Tuesday - Kimberly Lagayle McCarthy was scheduled to die by lethal injection. In July 1997 she bluffed her way into the home of an elderly neighbour, Dorothy Booth. Once there, the crack addict attacked the 71 year old retired academic, stabbing her to death, then cutting off her ring finger. Then she stole her car and drove off to buy crack. She pawned the victim's wedding ring for $200 and also used her credit cards.
Many people would argue that a murder committed under such circumstances warrants a death sentence, but there is such a thing as mercy. How about a woman who had murdered two other elderly women as well, does she deserve the same mercy?
Although McCarthy was not tried for these murders, there is no doubt she committed them.
Maggie Harding and Jettie Lucas were both over eighty. They were beaten and stabbed to death 9 years prior to the murder of Dorothy Booth; DNA evidence linked McCarthy to the crimes, and she was indicted for both homicides
, but for whatever reason, the state decided not to try her for them.
If one can argue McCarthy deserved mercy for one murder, it is difficult to argue she deserves it for all three.
Whatever one's views on mercy, every accused is entitled to due process. In the US, defendants convicted of capital murder receive plenty of that; all such convictions are appealed automatically and reviewed by the higher courts, often several times. McCarthy has had more due process than most, because her 1998 conviction for the murder of Dorothy Booth was quashed, and she was retried. The new jury came to the same verdict
McCarthy should have been strapped to a gurney and executed at Huntsville yesterday, but her execution has now been delayed until at least April. Why? Here's a clue: McCarthy is black, Dorothy Booth was white. Yes, you guessed it, that old chestnut racism
. Not in this case, it wasn't me, I was framed by the Great White Bigot, but the jury was made up of 11 whites and only one black, and dem honkies would have sentenced me to life if my skin hadn't been the wrong colour. How many times have we heard this pernicious garbage?
According to UPI
, this argument was actually made out by a law professor.
Of course, another way of looking at this is by considering the sex rather than the race of the perpetrator.
According to the NAACP
no less, as of October 1, only 63 of the 3,146 people on death row throughout the United States
In the UK there is none of this garbage about perceived racial balance on juries; the prime requirement of a jury is that subject to certain criteria it should be random. Jury selection will typically last minutes rather than days as in the United States. If there are issues with jurors it is most likely over the length of the trial. A trial that is scheduled to last for two or three months - as a few do - will very likely have unemployed people and pensioners sitting on it for obvious reasons. No attempt is made to collate racial data, indeed former jurors here are prohibited by law from discussing a case after they have served on a jury. And exactly how does the racial make up of a jury determine the sentence handed down to a convicted murderess? The suggestion that whites are more likely to sentence blacks to death for murder might itself be construed as racist
, but this is an issue that never seems to be considered. In any case, if anything, the opposite appears to be true; many African nations for example have capital punishment, while most predominantly white ones don't, although they would if the issue were decided by the public rather than by politicians.
Another argument often made against the death penalty is that its implementation is arbitrary. Is it? As usual, the answer is yes and no.
The black serial killer Terry Blair
was sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2008; another black serial killer, Andre Crawford
, was sentenced to life imprisonment the following year. As usual with serial killers, these men murdered within their own race; the families of their victims would rather they had been executed, (check out some of the videos about them on YouTube).
On the other hand, home invasion killers Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky
who were convicted only
of three murders, were sentenced to death in separate trials. Both these men are white, and although Hayes has boasted of committing other murders, Komisarjevsky has not. Would anyone like to make out the case that Komisarjevsky should be resentenced because two even worse serial killers were sentenced only to life imprisonment? Would anyone like to explain that in racial terms to Dr William Petit, the sole survivor of Komisarjevsky and Hayes, and tell him that the men who slaughtered his family are victims of a corrupt criminal justice system that penalised them unfairly on account of their race?
This is the sort of drivel the proponents of the ludicrous abolish the racist death penalty
non-argument spew out ad infinitum
. That and lying through their teeth, even suborning perjury for the likes of small time punk Troy Davis
and celebrity cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal
There is a certain way for everyone: black, white, male and female to avoid the death penalty in the United States and most other countries - don't commit murder.