QUORA QUESTION: ON A PURELY MORAL BASIS, RATHER THAN A PRACTICAL ONE, TO YOU THINK THERE ARE ANY CRIMES/PEOPLE THAT DESERVE THE DEATH PENALTY?
Yes. Here’s a non-exclusive list of reasons I think the death penalty is morally justified gleaned from some of the First Degree Murder cases I prosecuted.
DERRICK MANNING—Shot and killed two deputy sheriffs who were investigating a sexual battery complaint because he didn’t want his third degree felony probation revoked. RESULT: Death penalty overturned on appeal. Serving life sentences for murder.
THEODORE ROBERT BUNDY—I prosecuted him for the murder of a 12 year old school girl, the crime for which he was eventually executed. Need I say more? RESULT: Electrocuted.
JOHN MERRITT—While burglarizing his girlfriend's home, her father came home unexpectedly, so Merritt tied him up and shot him in the back of the head. He didn’t want anybody to be able to identify him. RESULT: Death Penalty overturned on appeal. Serving life sentence for murder. Had a rap sheet as long as your arm for burglary and crimes of violence.
MARSHALL GORE—A Ted Bundy wannabe who raped a string of victims from Cleveland, Tennessee, to Miami, Florida. His MO was to torture them, bash their heads in, and cut their throats. Miraculously, most of his victims survived, but they were mentally scarred for life. I will never forget the angelic young lady whose wrists and throat he cut. She kept passing out on him while he was torturing her, and he would dutifully wake her up so she could feel the pain he was inflicting. The most disturbing thing he did to her was to screw a corkscrew into her throat. She was so traumatized she flatly refused to come to court and testify against him. RESULT: Executed for a Miami murder before our death penalty could be carried out.
CARLIS LINDSEY—A serial killer who bragged that he “had his own private graveyard down on the muck.” Killed at least four people that we had proof of over a 30 year period of time, his last murders coming when he blew the faces off a young lady and her brother with a shotgun because he was angry that she was moving out of his house. She wanted to move out because of a disagreement over whether she was his girlfriend (she said “No”) or a rent-paying tenant. RESULT: Death penalty overturned. Died in prison.
KENNETH CHAKY—Brained his wife and put her in the trunk of the family car, and then hired a neighbor to “burn my car, but don’t look in the trunk.” When the neighbor opened the trunk, he abandoned the car at a nearby Dempsey Dumpster. A deputy sheriff saw the car, which Chaky had reported stolen, and returned it to Chaky with the body still in the trunk. Chaky then tried to recruit his neighbor to help in gather up a sufficient number of stray dogs to eat his wife’s body. Chaky wanted to be unmarried, but he didn’t want to pay alimony or child support. RESULT: Death penalty reversed on appeal. Now serving life in prison.
RICHARD HAMILTON—Career criminal who escaped prison and kidnapped a young nursing student who had stopped at the supermarket to pick up diapers for her infant child. Raped her multiple times and then killed her to prevent being identified as her rapist/kidnapper. RESULT: Awaiting execution.
ANTHONY WAINWRIGHT—Career criminal accomplice of Richard Hamilton. RESULT: Awaiting execution.
ROGER HARRIS—Another man who had an inconvenient wife. Had the mechanical ability to hand-make a firearm to use as a murder weapon. Lured her into the rear seat of her van on the pretense of having sex and shot her in the back of the head with the gun, which fired a finishing nail punch which was approximately 1/2 inch in diameter. RESULT: Death penalty overturned. Serving a life sentence.
JOHN BLACKWELDER—Serving multiple life sentences for sexual battery on children under twelve. Got angry with his boyfriend and convinced the boyfriend to lie spread-eagle on his bunk and be tied down in four point restraints to make sexual relations more fun. Once he got the victim tied down, he garroted the man. While the trial was pending, he told me he’d like to straighten my tie (I wonder what he meant by that?) and that he would like to sexually molest my children. Shortly after 9/11 I got a letter from him celebrating the deaths of all the victims who were killed on that day. RESULT: Executed by lethal injection.
CHARLES GLOBE—Career criminal serving multiple life sentences for armed robbery who conspired with a fellow prisoner (with whom he was very, very close) to kill a number of prisoners and prison guards. They made a list, decided on one victim, attacked him in his cell, garroted him, had sex on the top bunk while the victim lay dead on the bottom bunk, and then they decorated the cell with the victim’s blood. (A mitigating factor: Globe did talk his accomplice out of cutting the victim’s head off). RESULT: Died on death row while awaiting execution.
ANDY BUSBY—Globe’s accomplice and also a convicted murderer. RESULT: Death penalty reversed, sentenced to life on remand. Now serving life. The remand was after I retired. If I had still been working, I would have pushed for another death penalty.
COMMENT—Probably the two least deserving of death on this list were Chaky and Harris. If I had it to do over again, I would not have sought the death penalty on them, but not because they didn’t deserve it; because I now know how difficult it is to make a death penalty stick on a wife killer. The Chaky and Harris results caused me to forego the death penalty and just get LWOP sentences on a number of other wife killers. (LWOP means life without parole).