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Remains Disclosed Because of Death Penalty

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ap_Brooke_Wilberger_Joel_Courtney_090921_mn.jpgFrom the Northwest comes another case, along the lines of the Green River killer, where the ending is far from happy yet far better than it would have been if the state had no death penalty. KPTV, Portland has this story. ABC News has this story. The photo to the left is an AP photo from the ABC site.

From the KPTV story:

[Brooke] Wilberger was a 19-year-old Brigham Young University student when she was abducted at knifepoint by [Joel] Courtney on May 24, 2004. She vanished while working a summer job at an apartment complex managed by her sister in Corvallis near the Oregon State University campus.

Wilberger's remains are on a mountain in Benton County on private property, said Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson in a press conference Monday in Corvallis. The recovery of those remains began over the weekend. The exact location will not be released until the process is complete, Haroldson said.

Courtney accepted a plea deal in Wilberger's death in order to avoid a possible death sentence. In exchange, he pointed investigators to the location of the remains.

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Prosecutors said Wilberger was not the first woman Courtney had kidnapped and raped. In 2004, Courtney was arrested in the sexual assault and kidnapping of a foreign exchange student in New Mexico. That victim managed to escape.
What would have happened if Oregon had no death penalty? Would they have offered Courtney a deal that would allow him to get out someday? I don't believe the DA could have agreed to such a travesty. Would he have given up the details of the crime and the location of the remains without a deal? Almost certainly not.

Although the word "closure" has been much misused (especially in straw-man-fallacy arguments by the opponents), it is very clear watching Brooke's mother in this video that something important has been accomplished for the family in this case, call it what you will.

1 Comment

Obviously, there are many benefits to having the death penalty resulting from the leverage it creates. If the anti-side persists in its arguments about the practicality (i.e., mistakes, costs etc.), the pro DP side has an obligation to point these things out.

It is too bad this animal will not be executed for his crime.

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