Results matching “hubert lester michael jr”

A small newspaper in central Pennsylvania published an editorial on Monday hailing Governor Tom Wolf's statewide moratorium on the death penalty.  It begins with a quote from novelist Raymond Chandler claiming that law is not justice but rather an imperfect mechanism that randomly jets out results - sometimes we get what we call justice; sometimes naught. 


The editorial proceeds by mentioning the case that led to the moratorium:  Hubert Lester Michael Jr.  Michael was convicted of the murder of 16 year old Trista Eng.  Eng had posted an ad to sell a chair, which Michael responded to.  Later Michael picked her up while she was hitchhiking. He bound, raped and killed her.  Eng's life was over at 16 because she posted an ad to sell someone a chair.   Her family is left to pick up the pieces. 


To which the editorial staff at the York Daily Record state:

All of us feel for these families. Many of us will never fully understand what they are going through.

And certainly, for them, and for many others, the death penalty is an emotional issue. But for the sake of justice, however imperfect, we have to be able to take a rational look at the death penalty and its purpose, its cost and its flaws, no matter how difficult that may be.

Mr. Michael is a poor candidate for this kind of rational reflection. He admitted his crimes. He had a history of brutality. He is a monster. It is easy to say, as York County District Attorney Thomas Kearney did, that he is "the poster child" for the death penalty.

Perhaps Mr. Michael deserves death.

But he is not what this debate is entirely about.

The rational debate about the death penalty is - at base - really about retributive justice.  The abolition movement is fond of recounting the "death is different" motto, which the Supreme Court invoked at least as far back as 1977.  But that is precisely the point: murder is a uniquely grievous crime that calls upon any civilized and orderly society to punish in an exceptional manner.   Society, of course, wants to deter murder and it wants to preserve the safety of its citizens, but justice, at least in this world, is an entirely human enterprise and it derives from the simple idea that people deserve to be punished when they have transgressed seriously against the social norms embodied in the law.

There is no "perhaps" in Michael's just deserts; what he deserves is worse than death but he mercifully gets less.  The conversation, though, is about deserving.  It is emotional but that does not render it irrational.  The touchstone of our humanity is that we can feel for others: the families of the victims; the outrage at the conduct of someone like Michael; the loss of safety that we all experience upon hearing of a horrendous crime; the brief thought: that could have been my child.  It is this same emotional affair that lends us to extend a lesser punishment for those who have truly extenuating circumstances.  Justice is not cold nor should it be because it is an entirely human endeavor not a mechanical one.   The debate about the death penalty does include concerns about its reliability as does the entire criminal justice system, but it is, at heart, a debate about what people like Hubert Lester Michael deserve and that is reason at its best. 

News Scan

PA Killer Granted Last Minute Stay of Execution: The Associated Press reports the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Hubert Michael Jr. a stay of execution Thursday. Michael's case is being sent back to a district court judge for further proceedings. Michael's crime is outlined in this news scan.

CA Double Murderer Faces Death Penalty: Demian Bulwa of the San Francisco Chronicle reports a remorseless Nathan Burris was convicted Wednesday of two murders in California. Burris killed his ex-girlfriend and her male friend with a shotgun at the toll plaza where she worked. He was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder, killing multiple victims, and lying in wait which make him eligible for the death penalty. Burris represented himself and often laughed and cursed at the family of his victims throughout the trial. His penalty hearing is set to begin Thursday.

AZ Shooter Gets 7 Life Sentences: The Associated Press reports Jared Lee Loughner was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences Thursday. Loughner went on a shooting rampage in Arizona in 2011 that killed six and wounded 13. Loughner had previously pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty. Discussion of Loughner's plea is here. Further case details are here. It is not yet known where he will serve his sentence.

CA Death Penalty Fixes May Be On Next Ballot: Sam Stanton and Andy Furrilo of the Sacramento Bee have this article discussing the likelihood of another death penalty proposition on the ballot in 2014. Proposition 34 lost 53-47% on Tuesday. Supporters of California's death penalty, including Criminal Justice Legal Foundation Legal Director Kent Scheidegger, are considering going to voters to resume executions in the state. Legislators and state officials could arguably speed up executions in the state easily, beginning with the 14 on death row who have exhausted all appeals.

News Scan

TX Inmate Executed: The Associated Press reports that Texas executed convicted killer Bobby Lee Hines Wednesday, the state's 11th execution this year. On October 20, 1991, while on probation for burglary, Hines stabbed his victim 18 times and strangled her.  A neighbor heard screaming in the apartment complex and called police, though they were unable to identify the source. In the morning, the landlord, Hines' brother, was convinced by residents to open the victim's door, where she was found brutally murdered. His brother suspected Hines of the killing and he was arrested that morning. Hines had the victim's blood on his clothing and had several of her things with him. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Hines' appeal last week. The opinion is here.

CO Killer to Be Tried As Adult:
Clayton Sandell and Christina Ng of ABC News report 17-year-old Austin Reed Sigg was told during his first court appearance Thursday, that he will be tried as an adult.  Sigg will be charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of criminal attempt, and one count of second-degree kidnapping. Because he is under 18, he will not face the death penalty and Colorado law prohibits him to be sentenced to mandatory life without parole. He was arrested after confessing to his mother that he killed 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway. Sigg is being held without bail and his charges are expected to be formally read Tuesday. Continued from this news scan.

Judge Delays Setting CA Execution Date:
Michelle Durand of the Daily Journal reports that on Wednesday a San Mateo County Superior Court Judge delayed the request by the San Mateo County district attorney to set an execution date for Robert Green Fairbank until after the Nov. 6 election. If Proposition 34 passes, California will no longer have the death penalty. Fairbank pleaded no contest and was sentenced to death for the 1985 attempted sexual assault and murder of a woman in San Francisco.  He stabbed the victim multiple times with a knife, screwdriver, and barbeque fork before lighting her on fire. The hearing was rescheduled for Nov. 16.

CA To Regain Some Prison Healthcare Control: Paige St. John of the Los Angeles Times reports operations of California's prison healthcare system is expected to be turned completely back over to the state in about two years, according to court-appointed overseer J. Clark Kelso. Negotiations are taking place as to how determine the quality of inmate care once control is transferred back to the state. On Friday, Kelso will restore some administrative functions to the state including staffing and equipping new facilities and ensuring inmates are going to hospitals, clinics, and doctor's visits. .

PA Death Row Inmate Seeks to Reopen Case: Mark Scolforo of the Associated Press reports lawyers for Pennsylvania death-row inmate Hubert Lester Michael Jr. asked a federal judge to reopen his case Wednesday despite Michael's repeated indecision about whether to appeal. Michael pleaded guilty to murdering a 16-year-old girl in 1993. The girl had posted an ad to sell a chair to which Michael responded. He later picked her up while hitchhiking, then bound, raped, and killed her. Michael was not charged with the rape due to a lack of evidence. He is set to be executed Nov. 8.

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