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The Human Consequences of Soft Sentencing

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On New Year's Day in Stockton, California, Lynette Denney died, "for the second time," reports Sara Cardine in the Stockton Record. In 1980, when she was 22, Angelo Michael Melendez shot her in the head and left her for dead. Lynette had refused to have sex with Melendez, and he shot her "at point-blank range under each eye." Miraculously, she didn't die, but complications following surgery "caused her to fall into a permanent, semi-vegetative state." As described in the story, her family cared for her for the next 27 years.

And what sentence did Melendez get for this crime? A mere seven years, and he was released on parole after five. Not only was that a grossly inadequate sentence as a matter of just deserts, but it left this monster free to do it again, and the second time he made sure the victim did not survive. Melendez is presently on death row for the murder of 19-year-old Koi Wilson, also of Stockton.

In 1987, in reaction to the Larry Singleton fiasco, the California Legislature created the crime of aggravated mayhem, Penal Code section 205, punishable by an indeterminate life term. Had this law been in effect in 1980, Melendez could have been adequately punished for the crime against Lynette Denney, and Koi Wilson would probably still be alive.

When you hear calls to roll back sentencing laws and repeat the mistakes of the 1960s, remember Lynette and Koi.

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It's probably a safe bet that this slimeball was not unknown to the justice system before he shot Ms. Denney.

Why is lenience to criminals equated to kindness or enlightenment?

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