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Drugs, the Victimless Crime, Vol. Nine Zillion

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How often have we heard libertarian zealots insist that drugs should be legalized because they are "victimless," and the state has no legitimate power to decide what a person puts into his own body?

Will they learn anything from today's Washington Post story?  The basics are that a druggie hoodlum knifed to death a college student who had stopped to give him a lift. Particularly interesting is this passage:

Defense attorneys acknowledged that Blanco Garcia was the killer. But they said he had not intended to harm Pham. In his closing argument, attorney David Bernhard reiterated a phrase the defense used again and again to describe the crime: a "perfect storm of tragedy."

Defense attorneys said Blanco Garcia had smoked PCP that Sunday and planned to steal TVs from stores. But as he set out with his daughter, he became sick from the drug and got off the bus at Fairfax Plaza Shopping Center. They said he was in distress, and asked Pham to take him to the hospital.

As they were driving, defense attorneys said, Pham made a wrong turn, and Blanco Garcia became paranoid. He pulled a butcher knife from his backpack and stabbed Pham as his daughter sat nearby, they said.

But wait, there's more:

"We have told you this defendant was hallucinating and fearful and that was his motivation," Bernhard said. "His actions were not the product of hatred."

Of course not.  When a teenage girl takes a wrong turn after giving you the ride you asked for, naturally the thing you would do  --  as a grown man twice her size  --  is slice her to ribbons.  No hatred there!

The defense called just three witnesses when presenting its case Thursday. Two Fairfax County police officers testified that they had each responded to a call in 2006 after Blanco Garcia had reportedly used crack and PCP.

The defense's third witness, a forensic toxicologist, testified that the symptoms Blanco Garcia said he had suffered the day of the killing were consistent with PCP intoxication. He said that PCP users can suffer hallucinations and have breaks with reality.

Do remember, though, that PCP and other drugs like heroin and meth should be legalized, and thus made more widely available, because they're "victimless."

But the trial ultimately turned on the words of the defendant himself. Blanco Garcia never took the stand, but prosecutors played a dramatic, two-hour police interrogation during which the defendant broke down, admitted his role in the killing and apologized.

"I remember I asked [Pham] to drop me off at the hospital," Blanco Garcia told detectives. "Then she took the wrong way. In my mind, because I was really high, I thought she was going to do something to me. I had a knife in my backpack . . . and then I did what I did."

This post is not about the death penalty, but I can't help closing by wondering what justification there is for not executing this killer.  He had more than ample knowledge of what PCP does, but kept on with it anyway.

2 Comments

The pcp was no more responsible for that crime than the knife. The logic of your argument is that we should ban guns or even twinkies, anything that defence lawyers have ever succesfully used to argue mitigation.

Its stange that you are usually very good at spotting crazy defence ploys. The exception is drugs where you unhesistangly swallow the defence's bs. Plenty of people take drugs without murdering people. Unless you've been poisoned or something by someone else, you dont suddenly lose responsibility for actions you commit while intentionally intoxicated.

Possession of burglar tools is also illegal, and for a reason. The reason is not that they can be used ONLY in burglaries. The reason is that they are so used with sufficient frequency that their possession represents a social hazard. This is true notwithstanding that libertarians might say, "It's not up to the state to determine what a person can put into his own tool bag." Life has this nasty way of defying ideology.

PCP frequently produces the kind of effect we saw in this case (and, as we also saw in this case, with lethal results). It is largely for this reason that support for legalizing hard drugs is essentially non-existent among the public.

I think you're being unrealistic in saying that PCP had nothing to do with the murder. You are quite correct in putting responsibility first and foremost on the defendant. What you're overlooking is that one very significant component of his criminal responsibility lay in his decision to take PCP to being with.

This is a dangerous, dangerous drug. I wish the defendant had been put in jail the first time he used it, had and been kept there a long time. If he had been, you and I know that an innocent college student would be alive today.

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