"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

There they go again...

Are they lying or just distorting the facts to fit their agenda? The anti-death penalty crowd, I mean.

In Virginia, we're getting ready to mete out final justice Thursday night to a man named Percy Walton. It is always important to remember what these thugs have done to land them on death row, so here's a summary of Walton's crime: Jessie and Elizabeth Kendrick, a couple in their 80s, and 33-year-old Archie Moore were Walton's victims. The victims were robbed and shot in the head; Mr Kendrick face down in the carpet listened to his wife beg on her knees for her life before being shot in the head with the gun muzzle pressed against her skull; then he himself was shot in the back of the head the same way as he lay crying. Moore was shot in a separate murder and stuffed in a closet.

Walton plead guilty to capital murder and was sentenced to death. Now his lawyers, aided by the usual crowd of activists and even, bizzarely, by the Christian "conservative" Rutherford Institute (which has bought into the liberal religious activist anti death penalty mentality), are pointing to an array of bizzare conduct by Walton and some professionals' opinions that he's nuts, and arguing that his late-found lunacy should spare him from his fate.

Yet fifteen different judges have reviewed this case and agreed that Walton was competent to plead guilty and understands what his punishment is.

In May of 2004 the Federal District Court summarized the facts supporting Walton's competency and sanity both for purposes of pleading guilty and for understanding the nature of his punishment:

When Walton was seventeen, he received the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale - Revised (“WAIS-R”) IQ test and achieved a full-scale score of 90, placing him in the “average” range of intelligence. When Walton was eighteen, he completed the WAIS-R IQ test again and achieved a full-scale IQ of 77, placing him in the “low average” range, but not in the mental retardation range. When Walton was twenty, he was again given the WAIS-R IQ test and scored a full-scale IQ of 69. Finally, when Walton was twenty-four, he received the “GAMA” test and scored a 66, a result considered “well below average.” In a footnote, the court observed that the GAMA test heavily relied upon by Walton was generally used as a screening device and was not one of the standardized tests of intellectual function recognized by the Virginia Department of Mental Health.

The court also considered the opinions of Dr. Stanton Samenow and Dr. Patricia General, both of whom opined that Walton was not mentally retarded.This court has already found that Walton understands why he is being punished and that he will be punished by execution. Furthermore, the court also finds that Walton has consistently selected electrocution as a method of execution and that he understands that electrocution will result in his death. Before pleading guilty, Walton stated “the chair is for killers”and that he wanted to plead guilty, get “the chair” and “go out like a man.” Dr. Samenow testified that Walton “understood that a capital murder charge can result in the death penalty ‘by electric chair or needle.’” More recently, Dr. Mills, the psychiatrist appointed by this court, testified that Walton expressed a preference to die by electrocution. Particularly revealing is the testimony of Allen Glasgow, a rehabilitation counselor who was with Walton on May 23, 2003–just a few days after Walton selected his method of execution. Glasgow testified that Walton communicated well, completed a visitor’s form without assistance, and stated that he wanted his mother to receive his remains upon his death.

Moreover, the Court noted that the defendant had been through a plea colloquy with the trial judge before his guilty pleas were accepted, a colloquy which satisfied the court that Walton understood very specifically what was happening to him.

So isn't it interesting how these professional anti-death penalty advocacy groups tell their audiences only about the supposedly crazy conduct Walton engages in, without mentioning the inconvenient facts that have led the courts to conclude that, in effect, he's nothing but a snivelling malingerer? (We'll leave to another day discussion of the curious concept that a vicious killer should escape death if he's mentally ill).

This case will give Governor Tim Kaine, who is personally opposed to capital punishment, another chance to grant clemency to a death row inmate and commute his sentence to life imprisonment.

Will he, or won't he?


Anonymous said...

Tom, It is too bad that there have not been hearings on these issues, and that the courts must accept a convicted killer’s word. Oh wait, they don’t. You are just setting up a straw men to stir the ire of the lay folk.

Most of the time, a large number of judges will agree on one subject, because they are bound by precedent. That doesn’t make their view correct. Since most of the judges were not reviewing his competence to plead guilty, but rather reviewing a lower court’s decisions regarding credibility (and its own observations) for error, to say that they all “agree” is a bit misleading. Therefore, I don’t think that you can claim moral superiority in this vein.

You also omit the caselaw which holds that even if a person was competent to plead guilty, and even if the death sentence was valid at the time it was pronounced, if he subsequently becomes incompetent, he can’t be executed. Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399, 409 (1986) (“The Eighth Amendment prohibits the State from inflicting the penalty of death upon a prisoner who is insane.”). While, of course, you might disagree with the caselaw and you might think that he is, in fact competent, it does bind the courts. You fail to mention this, and it seems obvious that you are relying on media reports for the legal arguments of others (which are freely available.) This is unacceptable. A lawyer must read the legal arguments of others before commenting on them.

Faithmy said...

3 long paragraphs to try to explain how if judges are wrong, they are still right. Only a retarded lawyer......We should (as a society) start demanding IQ tests of lawyers. Anything under 50 would get them the boot. Half of the lawyers running around today would be flipping burgers within a month.

Anonymous said...

Faith, If something is too complicated for you to understand, there is no need for you to chime in to say that you don’t, especially when you 1) misstate what the above poster said; and 2) don't even state why you think your view is better than interpretation of that post. For better or worse, lawyers do run society, and while it is great to say that “IQ” tests should be required (they are not.) Therefore, you should either get used to this simple truth or go to law school, preferable a real one (that is, not a TTT ranked lower than 25.)

Faithmy said...

Anon--you pretending not to be both posters is just sad. As for "running society"--that is a train wreck that lawyers probably dont want to get their finger prints on (although they are to blame for a hugh % of the misery today). Didnt you want to add a little blurb about oral sex being illegal in VA? It doesnt seem like one of your rambles is complete with out it!

Anonymous said...

Society works just fine with lawyers running it. I don’t see how taking input from nonlawyers would make it better.

Faithmy said...

Dentists and dental hygenists run society. They just allow lawyers to THINK they do.