Friday, December 12, 2008

Brian Nichols Will Live, Limitedly

Brian Nichols was convicted of killing a judge, a court reporter, a sheriff's deputy and a federal agent early this week. There was no doubt that he did the killings, the question was whether he would be put to death for his crimes.

In Georgia, after a conviction, there is a sentencing phase in a trial in a capital murder case. The same jury hears why the defendant should and should not die.

Nichol’s jury found 9 to 3 that he should die. To execute him, the vote must be unanimous. So, the judge must now decide if he gets life with, or without, parole. I’m sure he’ll get the latter.

I think it is a good result.

If a jury in Georgia, even Fulton County, notoriously “liberal” when it comes to not killing killers, can’t vote to execute Brian Nichols, it may be that our society is changing and the death penalty will become a thing of the past.

It isn’t as if he is going to “get away” with murder. Whether he spends the rest of his life in a maximum security prison in Georgia or in Colorado’s federal “Super Max” prison (he killed a federal officer) he will live a minimal life, for the rest of his life, year after year after year.

And we, as a society are better than he is. He killed, we have not.


matejoh said...

I'm overcome with anger toward this jury. I don't think the death penalty should be handed out to everyone convicted of murder, but the man killed four people at different levels of law enforcement, and he had nothing to bargain with. What happened? He is stealing the air we breath. He IS getting away with murder. I don't think jurors have the right to go into a situation like this one and preach to the public through a BS sentence of life in prison for someone this dangerous.

Sonja's Mom said...

I agree with Matejoh. There are some people that are beyond redemption - whose very existence lessens the quality of our lives. These people should be put to death so no one has to have any interaction with them or even think about them ever again.

Dave said...

I'm going to stand by my post.

Matejoh and SM, I fully understand your thoughts. I would actually have no problem with Nichols being executed. He is beyond temporal redemption.

Two things though.

First, I still think we are less when we as a society kill people.

Second, the tipping point is not Nichols, it is the person who is later proven not to have killed. You can't reverse an execution.

Life Hiker said...

I'm with you, Dave. I once was strongly in favor of capital punishment. Now I think that any intentional killing by government, except in a pitched battle, is wrong. Whenever we try to justify a killing, we open the door for someone else to rationalize killing under their own rules. It's better to just put those people away - far, far, away from any comfort whatsoever.

Jeni said...

Dave, I'm totally with you on this one! You are so right in saying that use of the death penalty very much diminishes us as a society. There have been times when it has been difficult for me to think this way -some criminals whose acts were so heinous that initially I thought the death penalty would be an excellent choice. But in retrospect, I did eventually come to the belief that it should not be up to us to condone more killing. Regardless of the act, the perpetrator is still a human, still usually has family who I think would rather be able to still have their family member incarcerated for life instead of dead and buried. And, as you said, supposing later on evidence might be found showing the person to be innocent. The death penalty is non-reversible, a life sentence can at least be changed. I would however say in some instances of life without parole that it also include life without appeal too -maybe free up the courts a tiny bit that way. Or not -don't know if that would have much impact in that respect.

J said...

I am with matejoh and a whole bunch of other folks. Nichols should have been executed and swiftly.

The BS about "person who is later proven not to have killed". What is the average death row wait time?? Average number of appeals etc. Plenty of time to determine guilt. How may of those guys were truly innocent? I note you did not use that word.

What really pisses me off is that the incompetent DA can't get it done. Why wasn't the entire phone tap played for the jury? Why did he allow jurers that were opposed to the death penalty in a death penalty case. And finally the waste of $5 million bucks on the jerk when he could have been locked up for free a year ago.

Ron Davison said...

Death penalty is for me like gay marriage - something I have a position on but don't suppose makes a huge amount of difference in the end. I do think that a society is less generally brutal if it refrains from killing - even killers. It seems like progres to me to do away with capital punishment. Killing killers seems a bit like throwing Christians to the lions - it seems to please the mob hungry for justice or revenge or whatever urge it seems to appease. It's not obvious that indulging that urge is the healthiest thing. It is certainly not obvious that societies that do are less likely to have such horrific crimes.

DaleC said...

He will live the life of a hero behind bars for killing a Judge and a Federal agent.

Unless the guards kill him.