Butterfly Cauldron

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Justice for all?

I don't believe it's a secret I'm opposed to the death penalty in just about every circumstance. I mean, I'd have been onboard with sending Hilter to the death chamber, but usually? No. You can't tell people it's wrong to kill people and then turn around and kill people as punishment. There's a huge level of dishonesty there that I can't get onboard with. The system is too easy to abuse, as evidenced by the hundreds of people proved innocent via DNA testing in recent years. Gods only know how many innocent people were killed by the state -- which brings the question, if the state kills people who kill people, why isn't the state up to be executed? Is the state above it's own laws? Anyway.

And so, I move on to the story of Paul House. He's on death row in Tennessee, convicted of rape and murder. He's also, it seems, innocent. Even the US Supreme Court, with all it's wacko conservatives, believe so. They've said so, sent the issue back to the state. And House is still on death row.

You can read House's story here. We're looking at a case where post-conviction DNA points at another assailant (the husband), planted bloodstain evidence, confessions by the husband to TWO witnesses and otherwise fabricated evidence.

This man was set up. And the DA's response? Well, ok. So he didn't rape her, that doesn't mean he didn't kill her. But, it was the rape -- as an aggravating cirucmstance -- that was the key to giving House the death sentence and putting him on death row. So now, the DA's office (and the DA that prosecuted the case has retired, the one in office now has no dog in this fight, really. No one could hold him responsible.) is standing by the old case, even though it's clear to a "reasonable" person (says our ultra-conservative Supreme Court) would have never convicted him if the whole story had been put before them.

Add to the fact that House has since developed MS in prison. And what does his treatment in prison consist of? A vitamin and OTC sleeping aids. He doesn't get any of the new treatments that could make his life more bareable. With MS, he's in constant physical pain and possibly occassional paralysis. And they give him a vitamin and tylenol. I think they're forgetting the part of the law where unusual and inhumane punishment is, ya know, out.

So, anyway, if I hadn't been opposed to the death penalty before, this would do it for me. How many other House's are sitting on death row around the country? How many innocent people has the state, in my name and your name, killed? They're making us all murderers without our consent.

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posted by Zan at 8:51 AM


They're making us all murderers without our consent.

That sums up the war as well.

I used to watch all those crime shows like American Justice, Cold Cases, and Forensic Files. Here is a case that haunts me:

Barry Scheck and his Innocence Project are working for a retarded black handyman who has been in prison for possibly all our lives because he was framed for the rape and murder of his employer, an old white Southern woman. This woman, who was over 60 at the time, supposedly let him into her house while she was wearing only a nightgown. (Don't ask me why they think she wasn't wearing drawers when she answered the door.)

Police unnecessarily took a large sample of the man's pubic hair, even though he couldn't have known or understood his rights. Someone planted a lot of that hair on the victim's bed. There's no way you would shed 40+ at one time.

Scheck believes her next door neighbor was the murdering rapist. He was a white widower about her age, and he sometimes fixed things for her. He's dead, and the court won't allow an exhumation. It seems to me that this is one of those cases where they lock someone up so people don't panic, and then they don't bother trying to find the real culprit. It sounds like the House case is the same.

You need new evidence in order to obtain a new trial. They often won't allow a new trial if you've uncovered stuff that the original defense lawyer could have reasonably found.

The law is so mangled that an innocent man was able to leave prison on a rape/murder conviction only by pleading guilty and being given a sentence of time served, which was two years or more, including the time he spent awaiting trial. Dr. Henry Lee didn't go into detail about how that worked. I think it was in his book Blood Evidence.

2:07 PM  

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