Monday, November 23, 2009

Texas and Rick Perry - Another Execution

by Katherine Scardino

I am so angry over the execution of Robert Lee Thompson. At 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009, Rick Perry presided over his 207th execution in the nine years since he became governor of Texas. That's more executions during his tenure than the 152 the illustrious George W. Bush managed. It's a record Perry will have the honor of living with for the rest of his life.

Robert Lee Thompson was executed by lethal injection despite the extremely rare recommendation by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles that his sentence be commuted to life. Mr. Thompson was executed even though he didn't kill anyone. In this case, the shooter was his co-defendant, Sammy Butler, who is now serving a life sentence. But the kicker is even worse: The jury sentenced the co-defendant to life in prison after the prosecutors failed to prove he intended to kill the victim. So, let’s see -- the actual shooter got life because the prosecutor couldn't prove intent, so the guy standing next to him, who wasn't the killer, got a death sentence.

Mr. Thompson died because Rick Perry decided the State of Texas should continue killing people despite the objection of a growing number of local voters and world governments. Texas is the laughing stock of most other countries. I've heard Canada calls us the hind end of the United States.

Mr. Thompson was convicted and sentenced to death legally. It's legal in Texas to charge an individual with capital murder if he's a “party” to the offense. He was present, and he knew the murder would or could happen. In law school, we were given the example of the guy waiting in the car outside the bank while his armed buddy goes inside to rob the teller. In the process of the robbery, a shooting occurs, and the teller is dead. The guy in the car knew his cohort had a gun. So the driver is just as guilty as the person who actually went inside the bank and pulled the trigger.

Over the years, there have been many debates over the death penalty for a “non-shooter.” Some jurisdictions have refused to execute a person if they are a party, as opposed to being the person who fired the fatal shot. Texas has no such compunction. We kill everyone.

In this case, Robert Lee Thompson, 34, was a party to a murder. The Board of Pardons and Paroles sent a letter to Gov. Perry requesting he commute the death sentence to life without parole. Mr. Perry refused to commute the sentence. Mr. Thompson was injected with a three-drug combination that even veterinarians won’t use on animals, and he is no longer breathing our air. Aren’t we lucky, and don’t we feel so much better? This man wasn't a threat to anyone anymore. He was behind bars in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He wasn't going to ever, I repeat, ever see the light of a free day for the rest of his natural life. He was living in a little box with no human contact; food was served to him through a hole in his cell door. What did we gain by executing him? Oh, I know. We maintained our reputation as the biggest bunch of idiots this side of Pluto.

Another death penalty case our governor controlled was Napoleon Beazley. Mr. Beazley was 17 years old at the time he killed a man during a robbery. He had a perfect disciplinary record while he was in jail and subsequently in prison. He was remorseful and stated so at every opportunity. He was a young man who had not yet grown to adulthood. Gov. Perry refused to commute his sentence to life, despite the many letters in support of a life sentence. Mr. Beazley was executed in May 2002. Three years later, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Roper v. Simmons, ruling that the great United States could not execute convicts who were younger than 18 when they committed a capital crime. Too bad it wasn't any help to the late Mr. Beazley.

I've heard all the arguments in favor of the death penalty. I understand that grieving families want to see the sentence carried out. But adding another killing is not justice; it's vengeance. As a Texan, I feel that my state killing a man who didn't fire a fatal shot is unjust and wrong. The recommendation that Mr. Thompson’s death sentence be commuted to life in prison was one of only two written by the Board of Pardons and Paroles in the past two years -- during which Texas executed 41 people. I would hope that when such a recommendation is made, our governor would, at the minimum, pay some respect to the judgment of people he appointed to that board and consider what they have to say.

Come on, Texas. Make the rest of us proud. Let’s not be the “hind end” of the United States anymore.

15 comments:

Kathryn Casey said...

Great post, Katherine.

In all honesty, I'm conflicted about the death penalty. It's too easy to make a mistake on guilt and innocence, and once the sentence is carried out there's no going back. Plus, the sentencing is so uneven, not just across the nation and the state, but even within counties. A great example is Thompson and his cohort, the one who fired the fatal shot. Thompson: death. His partner in crime: life.

I am also against the "law of parties," the law Thompson was prosecuted under that allows an accomplice to be held responsible. I was incensed when I read the headlines about this case. I have to admit, however, that I was less upset when I read more about the case.

Thompson wasn't just at the scene at the time the shots were fired, he emptied a gun into another victim and would have killed him, put the gun against they guy's neck and pulled the trigger. The man survived only because Thompson ran out of bullets.

As I said, I'd love to see the law of parties dumped. I think it's a bad law. But I'm a little queasy about Thompson being the poster boy for the movement.

Leah said...

I don't think it is necessary for Governors to have the privlidge of commuting sentences when we have parole boards to review cases. Former Alabama Governor Fob James took a lot of flack for commuting the sentence of Judith Ann Neely in the early 90s. He did so because the jury recommended LWOP and the Judge took it upon himself to impose the DP. It isn't like that was the only case that went down that way so why FJ decided to do that is unknown, unless it was just for the politics of it, being that it was a high profiled case. Doesn't do any good to get upset at the Governor's for doing what they are impowered to do and have the right to do. If I had it my way, juries would decide guilt/innocence and Judges would to the rest and take the responsibility for such. And the parole boards would take over after that. Doesn't really matter because however it is done, people are going to be upset. That said, I am not a DP proponent and this an example of why.

Ignatius said...

Are you really arguing that the governor rule by fiat?

I'm so happy over the execution of Robert Lee Thompson because his fate was decided by HIM. Had he made sure he was not anywhere near the crimes that led to the murder committed by his co-hort, had he not TRIED AND TRIED to kill another innocent but just barely skirted capital punishment for THAT, he might be alive, being fed and clothed and guarded by me and my tax dollars for all time to come.

But no. He did all he could to craft this destiny for himself. I am delighted that he is gone.

If only we could purge ourselves of the defense attorneys who completely and utterly forget, forcibly blot from their brains, the direct and indirect victims of such monsters among us, we could be free of the biggest bunch of idiots in this galaxy.

Texas is its own state of mind, you know that. If parts of Canada thinks of Texas as the hind end of America, guess what Texans think of them? I am equally certain that other parts of Canada admire Texas because Texans keep their hearts firmly focused on the victims.

Texas could not care less what the rest of the world thinks of it and that will never, ever change. So what if Europe doesn't like Texas. So what.

Just because a criminal doesn't actually kill someone doesn't mean they are less deserving of capital punishment. Remember the man who kidnapped a little girl, drove her out to the desert, raped her, tortured her, CUT OFF HER ARMS, left her for dead yet she lived (this was in California, which is afflicted with Rose Byrd and Stephen Reinhardt parasitism)?

You act like death is the worst that can happen.

FleaStiff said...

The families of victims have a right to feel a sense of revenge having been achieved. Alot of what we do in society does not work very effectively so saying the death penalty doesn't work well is not all that significant.

The existence of the death penaly conveys a message and sets forth an attitude that exists. And that attitude applies to those caught up in a felony murder rule situation.

We are not having assembly line executions that follow perfunctory trials. There is due deliberation and then an application of an ultimate penalty. It is not perfect but it is just and proper.

Ignatius said...

I had to find her name: Mary Vincent. Mutilated by Lawrence Singleton. A despicable monster who should have been executed for what he did to Ms. Vincent. He didn't "kill" her but he did. Here is the news report of his dying, after he reached his 70's, in Florida, where he went after leaving California, only to end up on death row there but cancer got him first:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/01/01/MN225792.DTL

He detested women. But as long as the victims are anyone who you don't care about, that's just fine.

Ms. Scardino, thanks to irresponsible and heartless people like you, mutants like him keep getting released to victimize us over and over and over again.

Women and children simply do not suffer enough for your liking.

Anonymous said...

Pity you Ignatius for delighting in someone's death. And pity you if you ever find yourself wrongfully accused of the unthinkable. Lets see where your scorn of defense lawyers are then.

Ignatius said...

Anonymous,

I don't resent defense lawyers. I resent defense lawyers who pursue their religion, Get The Client Off No Matter How Stinking Guilty They Are By Pretending That All Their Clients ARE Innocent, with the reckless zeal that tortures the victims of their clients.

I suppose attempting to get me to identify with the criminal was meant to appeal to my sense of greedy self-preservation at the expense of my code of ethics.

You mean like defense lawyers who defend the most disgusting of humans at the expense of the system they claim to worship?

Sorry, but when more defendants are allowed to admit their guilt and their defense attorneys do not proceed to do everything they can imagine and then some to contravene the guilty defendant's admission of guilt, AND when more of the guilty will in fact be encouraged to admit their guilt IF they are in fact guilty, then I might be more willing to think there but for the grace of God go I.

But as of now, that is what I think when I hear the tragic story of people like Mary Vincent. You know, the poor victims. Because that is the far, far likelier circumstance I could find myself in, not that of being misconvicted.

Pity you Anonymous, for delighting in the suffering of the dead person's victims. Pity you if you ever find yourself the victim of a pitiless monster and are forced to watch a defense attorney make you defend your reputation, watch the defendant game the system on your dollar, watch the criminal stall, evade, deny, dodge and LAUGH at how easy we are to play.

The chances of you being a victim are far greater than of me being falsely convicted and executed.

Leah said...

Defense attorneys have a place in the criminal system. Constitutionally every defendant is entitled to representation and they should not have their civil and constitutional rights violated by our justice system nor those who do not presume their innocense. It is beyond this point that I have issues with defense attorneys. Doing or not doing things that they know will sway a jury in the wrong direction is perfectly legal even if it isn't moral and/or ethical. Even if it paints the victim in a bad way and even when they know their client is guilty as hell. As far as I am concerned this is wrong and it should be illegal. Our justice system is really flawed when it allows such underhandedness to go on. It really isn't justice but a stage drama and it makes out "justice system" a joke.

Soobs said...

Ms. Scardino has never met a murderer, she didn't like.

Is there ANY crime which is so horrendous, so evil, for which you would approve a penalty of death, Ms. Scardino?

I'm afraid there isn't, so it's difficult for me to take you seriously. I can name two, right now, that fit the bill, and deserve death for their CHOSEN ACTIONS.

dudleysharp said...

Katherine:

It is clear why Thompson got the death penalty and Butler did not.

As everyone on this site knows, that facts of the case matter.

Had you presented them, it would be easy to understand.

You chose not to. Why?

dudleysharp said...

Katherine:

Your statement about vets not using the human death penalty prtocol is true, but not for the reason you think.

Fact check, before you use anti death penalty nonsnense. OK?

http://homicidesurvivors.com/2006/06/16/austin-americanstatesman-lethal-injection-confusion--dogs.aspx

dudleysharp said...

RE: Napoleon Beazley.

I would recommend folks read about beazley and his crimes.

http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/death/US/beazley779.htm

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john harston said...

In my opinion the death penalty is not used enough, I believe Governor Perry did the right thing. The men and women who are on death row aren't there because they are model citizens.They took human life or they were a part of it had knowledge that it could and probably would happen.I do not think that gender plays a part or should get preferential treatment Governor Perry I hope you become president