Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Crosstown Traffic: Michael Morales and the Death Penalty

Recently we've been treated to yet another chapter in the sorry spectacle of the death penalty in California. Of course I'm referring to the case of one Michael Morales a waste of oxygen if ever there was one.

According to a curious document available on from the anti death penalty folks, Morales is a 4th generation American (so am I) devoutly religious (I'm not) and the father of three adult children (I account for two).

The document goes on to admit, in effect, that Morales was guilty as hell but quibbles over the proofs. How else to explain the statement that "Michael has accepted responsibility for the fact that his actions led to Winchell's death" and then "Michael did not intend to kill Winchell" when the record's clear that the victim was lured to her death and that Morales personally beat her head in and raped her? If that's not felony murder and murder while lying in wait, I'm Wilson Pickett.

One learns from the press package provided by the California AG's office that Morales, at the tender age of 21, was a thug capable of using great violence without batting an eye, when he felt the need of a few beers or a pack of cigarettes. Here's enough of the link to Google it if it doesn't crash your computer.

So whether he fathered three children in the short time he had before being sent to death row matters not at all, and whether he's now devoutly religious is of little consequence. If I'd done what he did, I'd be worried as hell too mostly on the off chance that there's something on the other side.

I live in a state where we have not had the death penalty since 1964-although there is the small matter of the federal death penalty which two people were sentenced under here recently-they will be executed in Terre Haute, Indiana. I am against the death penalty as a matter of moral principle-it's far better to not have it and to make sure that people never get out of our fine state hotel at Fort Madison unless it's in a box.

But other states DO have the death penalty, and any criminal with an ounce of sense knows this.When I defend someone with multiple convictions the first question they always ask is "Does this mean that I get the 'bitch'?" That's the habitual offender enhancements. They're well aware of it, and I think that criminals in places like Texas and Virginia, where the death penalty is enforced, are aware of it as well and ought to govern their affairs accordingly.

If they choose to ignore it, whose problem is that? They do so at their own peril, and it's their problem, not ours.

The problem with this entire high minded calculus of moral values is the prisoners involved. The problem here is that MOST of the prisoners on death row richly deserve the fate that awaits them, no possible good is served by their continued existence, their guilt's been established beyond all possible doubt, they broke down the prison doors trying to get in, and had their trajectory not been intercepted by the law they would have continued on their murderous course.

It wouldn't bother me a bit if they were all executed tonight. These are not prisoners of conscience like Captain Dreyfus or Patrick Henry-they're brutes who now assert a claim on the public conscience and morality, and that is the most repulsive part of this sad tale.

Lest anyone doubt what I say about the problem with the death penalty being the prisoners, consider the case of Roger Bentley and the foul, unspeakable crimes against children which he was convicted of.

If the death penalty is ever revived in Iowa it will, without any doubt be because of the efforts of people like Roger Bentley.


At 5:14 AM, Blogger G. F. McDowell said...

Are you sure you're really against the death penalty? It seems to me the only really unpleasant part of incerceration would be the, uh, "manhandling" which is unintentional on the part of the state.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Robert Luedeman, attorney at law said...

Glad you asked me that. I am against the death penalty in my little corner of the world and I've always thought it a bad idea from a moral standpoint. It sort of makes me proud to be a midwestern person. At a gut level I'm very conflicted about it, mostly because of the people involved-it's very hard to have any sympathy for Roger Bentley.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger SlydeRule said...

Well said. I agree completely, and have written my own blog on the subject.

Slyde Rule


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