I hate to stir this bees nest, but something that MKleinschmidt said earlier has been on my mind. He said:
The biggest insult to liberty and the constitution apparent in Flippen's case (at least to me) is how the NC Supreme Court punted when they did their proportionality review. The Court is supposed to do an independent analysis of every death case that comes before them and determine whether the facts of the present case are so far afield from the rest of the death cases that the present case must be deemed to be disporportionate. In those cases, the Court imposes life. The problem with this analysis is they don't compare the present case with the literally 1000s of cases in NC of child murders that are not prosecuted capitally. They ignore the 99% of cases that are most similar to the present case and only look at the 1% of aberrant cases to determine proportionality. This is a legal CROCK! Every citizen should be embarrassed by this Court proportionality review.
This got me thinking.
I went and did some digging and found data for 2004 child murders in North Carolina, which is the most recent data. The stats were just stunning.
Child SID Deaths....96(Av.)....100(2003)....103(2004).....3%(increase)
I only put the SIDs cases in there to give you some idea of how prevalent child homicide is in this state. We see billboards and information everywhere telling parents to put their kids to sleep on their backs, without pillows, without blankets, because that is the most common cause of SIDs - suffocation. Yet, when was the last time you saw a sign asking you to help stop child homicide? What would you do if you were asked?
But, back to MK's point. There are 48 child homicides each year. I would love to tell you all about them so we could compare and contrast with the Flippen case and decide if he is an extreme case or not, but I have NO luck finding them. I've got some basic stats info though.
In 2004, at least 11 children were killed through assault. Assault comes closest to the beating that occurred in the Flippen case, so there are 11 child murderers that fall into the same category as Flippen. How many of them have been or will be sentenced to execution?
There were 125 death sentences handed down in 2005 in North Carolina, similar to the number in 2004. However, I cannot Google a list of all those sentenced to death in North Carolina in any recent year. Are there lawyers out there that know where this information is hidden? Of the 125 death sentences, how many were for murdering children? It seems that it should be at least 11 if the Flippen verdict is to be seen as "fair".
Note: I don't care which side of this argument you are on, you must accept that picking people who commit similar crimes at random for execution is a stupid and improper practice.
My argument for an execution moratorium is not the problems with the legal system, my problem is the 123 people released from prison after being sentenced to death. How many people were ushered through the process and strapped in for their final ride before they could be proved innocent? Take the case of this man, recently released:
John Ballard is the 22nd Person Exonerated from Florida
The Florida Supreme Court unanimously overturned the conviction of death row inmate John Robert Ballard (pictured) and ordered his acquittal in the 1999 murders of two of his acquaintances. The Court concluded that the evidence against Ballard was so weak that the trial judge should have dismissed the case immediately. The primary evidence presented against Ballard was a hair and a fingerprint, both of which he could have left during his many visits to the victims' apartment. Bloody fingerprints and 100 other hair samples were found associated with the crime scene, none of them belonging to Ballard, who has always maintained his innocence. One of the victims was a known drug dealer.
The state Attorney General's office said that it would not seek a rehearing in the case. At Ballard's trial, only 9 of the 12 jurors recommended a death sentence. The judge decided to sentence Ballard to death, commenting: "You have not only forfeited your right to live among us, but under the laws of the state of Florida, you have forfeited your right to live at all." Ballard was released on February 25, 2006.
I'm assuming they know the blood didn't belong to him because of DNA, but what about in the days when all we had to go on was blood type? DNA evidence, as most of us remember, hasn't been around that long. Not to mention that this case also gives us another great reason to doubt the death penalty, the jurors did not recommend the death penalty, but the judge took it into his own hands to see this man dead.
But I'm even more fascinated by the fact that, as I write, he is about to sign his 93rd death warrant. There was an execution on the day of his inauguration as governor of Texas, which I don't count, and there has been one every two and a half weeks or so ever since...An openly homosexual named Calvin Burdine was sentenced to death after being given a court-appointed lawyer who referred to gay men as "queers" and "fairies," and who fell asleep during the trial...Then there's the case of Joseph Cannon and Robert Carter, who suffered head injuries in infancy, had been subject to lurid physical abuse later, and tested at an abysmal level for mental retardation. Texas killed them anyway