Thursday, January 22, 2009

Conduct Unbecoming

Riverside, CA

Back in October, Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak were found murdered in their home in Winchester.  Tied up, gagged, shot in the head.  Pietrzak's wife raped. The the house was set on fire, presumably to cover up evidence.  All this because four fellow Marines were trying to rob the place.

Lance Corporals Kesaun Sykes, 21, Emrys John, 18, Tyrone Miller, 20, and Private Kevin Cox, 20, confessed to the crimes in November.  Now, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

They're certainly eligible.  Premeditated murder or murder during a robbery, rape or aggravated arson are punishable by death or life in prison according to the UCMJ.  And it looks like prosecutors might be going after all of those.

Does the military still hang people?  The last one was in 1961.  Army Private John A. Bennett.  Rape and attempted murder.

The death penalty was dropped in '83 and then reinstated the next year by Reagan.  In '97 they added the possibility of life without parole.

Me, I'm all for the death penalty.  Provided that the state doesn't fuck up a case and that it's commensurate with the crime.  Everyone equal under the law, etc, etc.  These things are rarely cut and dried and prosecutors just loooove to fiddle with facts.  That's why I like defense attorneys better.

But, seriously, some people just need killin'.

What do you think? Should the death penalty be revoked? Kept? Lessened? What?

Your thoughts?


Graham Powell said...

I believe in the death penalty in theory, but in practice I think it's applied too inconsistently, and too frequently defendants don't have competent counsel.

Anonymous said...

The problem I have is that all criminal penalties are weighted against the underclass. For instance there are major disparities in sentencing guidelines for crack, which poor people use, and powder cocaine, which rich people use. In almost every area you can find this disparity. A $100 B&E can get you sent to jail, but $100,000 business fraud that hurts so many more people more severely gets you house arrest, maybe. Off the point a bit, I don't look at China and say their system is great, but I do find it interesting that two businesspeople were sentenced to death for profit-motivated decisions that eventually led to deaths due to the drinking of tainted milk. Basically, these suits cut corners for money, deaths resulted, and now they're toast. That would simply never happen in the U.S., even though execs make decisions all the time that result in bodily harm, sickness, and yes, even death. But I digress. Until we ensure that punishment is evenly applied I am against the death penalty.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

I agree with both of you. We don't have nearly enough competent public defenders, and mandatory minimum sentencing laws are stupid and insane. Doesn't exactly speak to your points Anonymous, but is about as far as my brain can go at 6:30 in the morning on four hours of sleep. Cocaine, for example, carries (or carried - did they ever change it?) a lesser charge than crack, which is essentially the same thing, only cheaper and more concentrated. Which means it's big in poor neighborhoods with a lot of disenfranchised people, who can't afford their own attorneys, forcing them to take advantage of public counsel, which is overworked, underpaid and often looking to get a plea deal because it's faster, clears the books and lets them go on to the next one.

Man, I do loves me some run-on sentences.

Anyway, I look at the death penalty much the way I look at abortion. It's an important option to have, but that doesn't mean you don't take steps to prevent the need for it in the first place.

And to that end I think we need to decriminalize a lot of things, like marijuana. Get the stupid shit off the books so we can focus on real problems, like, say rape and murder. Hey, here's a thought, if we pulled back on this War On Drugs bullshit we might actually have fewer people in jail, less money going into drug cartels and some more resources to deal with real issues like gang violence and the economic and social conditions that lead to it.

But that's just crazy talk.

Midtown Miscreant said...

There are certainly cases that beg for the death penalty. That said, natural life in pelican bay, or the supermax in florence co. , would be no walk in the park. It's a tough question and Im not sure there is one right answer. The one thing I can say with certainty is any crime involving the rape or death of a child, or any innocent, I'm not going to lay up nights worried about the condemnd.

Gerard said...

My own written comments would have been identical to Graham's.

Don said...

The guys who killed this couple need to be put in the ground. Lethal injection is too lenient.

As for the underclass, I imagine they commit a higher percentage of the truly gruesome crimes. But if it's a question of parity, I say start executing middle and upper class murderers at a higher rate until we reach parity.

I'm all about equality.