Stanley "Tookie" Williams died this morning for killing four people. Twenty six years ago those four people died for no more than living. In those twenty six years numerous appeals were never quite strong enough to over turn the guilty verdict. In a capital murder case I presume the criteria was beyond a reasonable doubt. There was strong enough doubt about his jail house conversion to keep clemency at bay.
Our judicial system, as fair as it is designed to be, is imperfect at best. Reasons include sloppy prosecution, witnesses lacking credibility and the big $ defense attorneys being too clever by half. To wit the O.J. Simpson case and the Robert Blake case where the defendants had the money to hire the best of defense teams. Mr. Williams, celebrity ground-swell not with-standing, was not so fortunate. Writing dissuasive children's books about the follies of gang life weren't considered redemption enough. There were still four people dead and how many others from gang activities by the gang of which he was co-founder - the Crips.
I have very mixed feelings about capital punishment. Some crimes are so henious it seems to be almost humane to put the perpetrator out of our misery. Humane to that killer and to us. On the other hand it's the taking of yet another human life. And how does one realistically differentiate between redemption and manipulation?
I got to thinking about Joseph Edward Duncan sitting here in our jail awaiting trial for the murder of four people. I think of the details I am as aware of today as when the story first broke; the horrible, viciousness of the slaying. I physically recoil when I think about what happened to the boy. And a little girl will never be the child she was; she was robbed of that. Only time will tell what will come with her adulthood.
Should Mr. Duncan be found guilty as charged, what might he do with twenty six years? Twenty six years those killed will never have. Twenty six years to figure out how to make himself a sympathetic person and escape the death penalty. I think I have a good enough handle on this community to know how we would collectively feel. Musn't that be how the friends and family of Mr. Williams' victims feel?
Yes. This man is presumed innocent until found guilty by a jury of his peers. It is his right to mount the very best of defenses. However, if there was ever a time for the prosecution to rise to the pinnacle of their professional abilities this is it. Make no mistakes, have no bad witnesses, if the case against Mr. Duncan is to be proven make better than sure it is beyond a reasonable doubt.
Strange though it may seem, I find a positive to Mr. Williams demise. If his message to youngsters was truly about the consequences of gang membership; that no good would come from it, he proved his point. He bore the ultimate consequence and no one could bail him out.