In stark contrast, a guilty man and an innocent man are quintessential examples of the polarities in the never-ending debate for and against the death penalty.
Both men made headline news in the first week of early April. Their names are Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Anthony Ray Hinton.
Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, are the two homicidal sadists who exploded two bombs at the Boston Marathon two years ago, killing three and injuring more than 250, at least 15 of whom had to undergo amputations. The dead included an 8-year-old boy. A police officer was also gunned down in an ambush later by the Tsarnaevs during their despicable spree.
After carjacking an SUV, the brothers had another shoot-out with police, during which Dzhokhar, in a case of boomerang justice, floored the SUV, running over and killing his own brother.
On April 6, a jury convicted Tsarnaev and will soon decide his sentence: death or life in prison. If anybody deserves the death penalty, it’s him. At the risk of sounding vengeful, I myself wouldn’t much care if he was locked in a cell with a ticking pressure-cooker bomb, not knowing if or when it would explode.
Tsarnaev’s guilt was never in doubt. However, his mother thinks her darling son is innocent. On a Russian website, she posted this delusional nonsense: “He’s in the hands of a predator (the United States) preparing to tear him to pieces like meat.”
Hasn’t that fool of a mother even once considered the victims “torn to pieces like meat” by her precious sons at the marathon finish line?
Then, to compound her stupidity, she went on to say this: “I would prefer not to live in America now. Why did I even go there? Why? I thought America is going to, like, protect us, our kids, it’s going to be safe.”
We’d like you to know, Mrs. Tsarnaev, we are extremely happy you are living back in Russia because the people in this country, including its children, are much safer without the likes of you or your sons living here.
Dzhokhar’s defense team is trying to portray him as a hapless victim of his older brother’s influence. Nice try. He did his evil deeds, and he must pay the price.
And now to a happier story. On April 3, Anthony Ray Hinton, 58, was released from an Alabama prison where he spent 30 years on death row. He is just one of many death-row inmates, mostly black, who were exonerated either through DNA analysis or re-examination of evidence, testimony or careless (and some cases purposeful) miscarriages of justice. Since 1973, there have been 152 wrongfully convicted inmates released from death rows in the United States.
Hinton was convicted of shooting to death two fast-food restaurant managers in Birmingham, Ala. in 1985. Later – much too much later – it was learned the gun used in those crimes did not belong to Hinton. His so-called defense lawyer hired a one-eyed civil engineer with almost no ballistics training to examine the gun and bullets. That “expert” admitted later he had trouble operating the microscope. Other evidence, uncovered later, revealed Hinton was nowhere near the scenes of the crimes, that he was, in fact, at his warehouse job. The cheap-and-shoddy ballistics work was revealed by the Equal Justice Initiative, which was instrumental in exonerating Hinton and which proved his conviction resulted from his being poor, from his not being able to afford even a decent – much less adequate – defense.
Hinton’s heartbreaking comments on what he had to endure should be required reading, especially by gung-ho supporters of the death penalty. What saved him from losing his mind, he said, is faith in God and a sense of humor.
“I was in that cell by myself,” he said. “No one else but me. (Now) I’ve got to get used to noise and the sounds of everything because it’s fairly quiet on death row. Every man is in his own world.”
He went on to say:
“These crooked D.A.s and police officers and racist people had lied on me and convicted me of a horrible crime for something I didn’t do. They stole my 30s, they stole my 40s, they stole my 50s. I could not afford to give them my soul. I had to hold onto that…”
Anthony Ray Hinton is yet another reason why the death penalty should be abolished. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is another reason, some say, why the death penalty should be retained. I myself opt for abolishment, just to ensure no more innocent people are put to death. Furthermore, at least in the case of Tsarnaev, killing him would just make him yet another martyr for deluded extremists, including his own mother.