Happy New Year! And welcome to my new, improved blog platform/interface. All of the past posts are still here, searchable and archived by month (they were all imported in December, so you can find them by clicking on December 2010 in the Archive box on the right side of this page). I made my first TV appearance of 2011 on last night’s Nancy Grace, and here’s my first blog post of the new year:
On last night’s show, we discussed the case of a Georgia woman who went missing while taking a walk in a rural area approximately 18 months ago (I covered the case back then on HLN’s Prime News). Her body has been found — by her own brother — during a search of an area just a few miles from where she disappeared. It looks like it was a sexual assault that was part of a string of similar assaults committed by a sex offender in that area who has since committed suicide.
There’s a ten-year-old in custody in Ohio, having allegedly shot and killed his mother with a .22 caliber rifle for making him do chores. If this feels like deja vu to you, it’s sadly reminiscent of a 2008 Arizona case that I covered extensively on Prime News in which an eight-year-old shot and killed his father and his father’s friend, and many of the issues — capacity of a child to appreciate the nature and quality of the act of murder, juvenile/adult adjudication, and sentencing — will be the same.
There’s another case, this one in Texas, of a guy who spent a couple of decades in prison for rape only to be proven innocent by DNA. As you know if you’re a regular reader, this, not the morality, is my problem with the death penalty (sentencing people to death when we can’t be certain beyond the slightest doubt that they did it, which practically necessitates reserving it for situations in which we have video, DNA, an arrest while in the process of committing the crime, etc.). The good news for the system is that we should have decreasing potential for such errors as convictions for crimes like rape and murder tend increasingly to feature scientific rather than just eyewitness evidence.
And speaking of problems in our justice system, outgoing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as one of his final acts in office, commuted the prison sentence of a convict who is the son of a former California legislator and friend of Schwarzenegger. Here’s what this guy did: he and some of his friends tried to crash a college party, were denied entry, and proceeded to stab some of the students, killing one. Now, instead of spending the rest of his life in prison, as he should, this guy will likely spend just six years behind bars (this time, he’ll probably be back after he hurts more people, especially given the message that this commutation sends), thanks to the shameful special treatment that he got from Schwarzenegger, who should’ve stuck to movies, where he could at least play characters who had the courage to do the right thing.
I may not get a chance to post again in the next ten days due to work and travel, but I’m glad you’ve found the new, improved blog, and I’ll look forward to adding to it regularly as 2011 progresses. Thanks for reading as always!