Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DC Sniper Executed.

Not sure how I feel about this.  I have been flipping back and forth between whether I believe in the death penalty or not.  John Allen Muhammad seems to be the guy. Yet, he died still claiming he was innocent.  No final last minute confession to ease his soul--just defiance that they got the wrong man.

Then I am troubled by other factors......1) His execution was five years from date of conviction.  From what I have studied, I do not know how he could have made it through all the appeals processes in 5 years, when Virginia has other prisoners sentenced to death dating back to 1997.  Why the rush on this guy?  2) Did the media taint Mr. Muhammad?  Did he get a fair trial because of that?  Remember the terror of living in that area?  I didn't live there, but I have close friends that live 2 miles from one of the rest stops where someone was shot to death.  Did the states rush to find someone in order to stop the terror that was going on at the time?  Then again, the shooting stopped once Muhammad was caught, so if it were someone else, likely the shootings would have continued.

I guess my problem with the death penalty in general is this:  how can we be certain?  In the age of instant media, where the media calls out "facts" real-time without verification, how can we be sure?  In post 9/11, terror being rained on by people traveling the beltway, how can we be sure?  Whenever we deal with taking another's life, how can we be sure?  We are not God, we cannot see, we are not omnipotent, all knowing. 

Just the other day, I was reading about a man in Maryland convicted of murder and rape.  He sat in prison for years, before DNA evidence cleared him of the crime.  What about the story of Ron Williamson, the true story that John Grisham wrote about in his non-fiction book An Innocent Man? These thoughts scare me. I would rather error on the side of caution, than execute an innocent man.

But the flip side of me, who hears about people who confess to horrible crimes, wants to see them gone.

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