Justice is done in Connecticut

Dr. John A. Sparks's picture

Dr. William Petit stood on the steps of the New Haven Superior Court House in early November. A jury had just recommended the death penalty for one of the men who had assaulted and murdered his wife and daughters.

Though it was not his intent, he made such a compelling case for capital punishment that his remarks may well be regarded as having significantly stopped any momentum that the anti-capital punishment advocates have achieved in the last 45 years.

Dr. Petit poignantly referred to the “jagged hole” left in his life and his family’s lives by the brutal sexual assaults and murders of his two young daughters and his wife, carried out by two men who began their murderous activities as a robbery.

In 25 minutes of comments that were sometimes interrupted when obvious waves of emotion overcame him, Dr. Petit managed to effectively counter the well-orchestrated and sentimental arguments against capital punishment that have been made since the 1960s.

What are those arguments, and how did Dr. Petit courageously manage to refute them?

The first is that society’s sympathy ought to be focused on the murderers themselves instead of their victims. This is view subtly encouraged by books like Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” as well as a collection of death-row films that dramatize the suffering of those awaiting execution.

Dr. Petit’s statements properly reminded us of the victims and their suffering. In this case, there was the horror, fear, and pain of Michaela, his 11-year-old daughter, who was sexually assaulted, tied to her bed, forced to witness her attackers pouring out gasoline around her, and then setting fire to the room.

As Dr. Petit pointed out, she died without the protection of her dead mother or her bound and beaten father. She died in her own bedroom surrounded by stuffed animals.

Nearly the same was done to her older sister Hayley, an extremely talented young lady whose potential as a 17-year-old had just begun to be realized.

As if that were not enough, imagine the unspeakable fear which filled Dr. Petit’s wife, who tried to placate the hoodlums by driving to the bank, returning with money only to be sexually assaulted and strangled.

We don’t know if she knew or witnessed the plight of her helpless daughters, but that is probable. So, Dr. Petit, by quietly referring to the outrageous, barbaric, inhuman conduct of the killers, pulled back into the public’s mind the anguish experienced by the victims of such dastardly crimes.

The second argument that has been raised against capital punishment, under the guise of the Eighth Amendment, is that it is “cruel and unusual.” This position has been most forcefully stated by the late Supreme Court Justice, William Brennan.

As Brennan wrote about convicted killers in 1985, “The calculated killing of a human being by the State involves, by its very nature, an absolute denial of the executed person’s humanity ... even the most base [sic] criminal remains a human being possessed of some potential, at least, for common human dignity.”

Dr. Petit’s answer to that was pointed, although stated only by implication through the content of his remarks and his measured demeanor. Where was the “humanity” shown to his loved ones and to himself? Where was there even a shred of evidence showing that the two killers were “human” in their conduct? Where was there any sign of the potential for “common human dignity” in their senseless, grotesque actions?

And yet, under the system of justice that Dr. Petit relied upon, such killers received or will receive a lengthy set of legal protections unmatched anywhere in the world. They will receive free legal counsel and be tried under the presumption of innocence. No count against them will stand without the support of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

These slayers will have appeals upon appeals extending their lives for years, even though they failed to grant their innocent victims even additional minutes of life and whose crying appeals for mercy fell upon their hearts of stone.

And then, under the system of justice which Dr. Petit and all of us depend upon, the murderers will be put to death in the most benign and humane way that modern science can devise, even though they consigned their victims to a death that was horribly cruel.

In closing, Dr. Petit stated that what will be done to these murderers, and the way in which it will be done, is justice — not revenge.

And as he properly reminded his listeners, there will be for these two an eternal punishment that is much worse than any the state of Connecticut could inflict.

May Dr. Petit’s daughters and his wife rest in eternal and heavenly peace, and may their attackers be consigned to eternal torment. Justice will then have been truly done.

[Dr. John A. Sparks is dean of the Calderwood School of Arts & Letters at Grove City College, Grove City, Penn., where he teaches constitutional law and business law. He is a member of the State Bar of Pennsylvania and a fellow for educational policy with The Center for Vision & Values (www.VisAndVals.org).]

JohnnyBGood
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What Real Justice Looks Like to Liberals:
Chris P. Bacon
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Texas Death Penalty

Interesting article in the WSJ today (LINK)

There were 464 inmates put to death in Texas over the past 30 years.
12 death row inmates were exonerated and freed by scientific advances in evidence testing.

According to my calculator, that 97.6 percent killed, 2.4 percent were actually innocent.

Does a judicial failure rate of almost 2.5 percent justify discontinuing the death penalty? If not, what is an acceptable "false positive" percentage?

Texas courts will attempt to answer that question this week.

PTC Observer
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CPB - I have

I have your answer, it's 100%. We should be 100% sure someone needs to die for their deeds before we execute them. This means that "beyond a reasonable doubt" takes on a whole new meaning given current technology. For example, DNA testing is only good for 1 in a billion+, is this certain? Nope but it is as close as we can humanly get. That means some of those people released on DNA evidence may actually be killers, should we keep them in prison? We can't have it both ways, right?

Still waiting for your suggested reading list on the basis of your philosophy.

Mike King
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Chrispy

You have to admit that 97.6% is pretty darn good when you consider that it's Texas we're talking about.

Seriously and conversely, I am not of the opinion that only a 97.6% success rate warrants total abolishment considering the advances in evidence testing. Should committing capitol murder be in your future, I'd advise not to do it in the Lone Star State.

We both know that most, if not all, of the "errors" took place decades ago.

Courthouserules
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Why are you both assuming....

......that 2.4% innocent is all that there were?

I don't think DNA was even available 30 years ago, and if it had been Texas would have ignored it.

Statistics would give a pretty good estimate if certain other factors were researched. When insufficient evidence is available after thorough searches, over zealous prosecutors often are at fault--terrible judges also are guilty as well much of the time.

I am against legal murder (taking a life deliberately) and would prefer "Devil's Island!" Few warriors however feels that way due to justifications for wars.--a somewhat different scenario but similar results.
What is it now for Iraq and Afghanistan alone:
5000 of ours dead; 25,000 wounded--some terribly serious, and untold tens of thousands of enemy civilians.
Most of the soldiers doing the killing are protecting themselves since they are there.

Still easier to justify than shooting, hanging, poisoning someone strapped down.

One thing I do know is that it would certainly be unlikely that every innocent person was found before their death.

Your solution of staying out of Texas is one I agree with you about for many reasons, not just murder.

Mike King
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Court

Since you seem to doubt Chrispy's calculator, do you also argue with stop signs?

Lethal injection, electric chair, hanging, and firing squad are all means that have been used to carry out the public's will. Few, if any, current warriors have served as executioners, but you may know differently.

By the way, how is it that you know it to be easier than shooting, hanging, poisoning someone strapped down? Could it be first hand experience?

Courthouserules
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MIKE K

I am not sure what you mean by your last sentence.

I meant it is easier to JUSTIFY war killings than killings ordered by a civilian court.

If you meant have I been a party to killing in war--I am not absolutely sure and you will never know either. I will say I was very young, as are most of those poor guys now. (The Guard and Reserves have raised that average age somewhat.)

JohnnyBGood
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Pure Evil

One of the most heartbreaking cases in recent memory.

Petit's wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and their daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11 were raped. After raping the women and young girl, all withing ear-shod of Dr. Petit, Petit's wife was strangled, and his daughters were tied up, splashed with gasoline and left in the burning home after the attack which lasted just over seven hours.

"Where was the “humanity” shown to his loved ones and to himself? Where was there even a shred of evidence showing that the two killers were “human” in their conduct? Where was there any sign of the potential for “common human dignity” in their senseless, grotesque actions?"

No sir, I'm not going to judge Dr. Petit's feelings, wishes and comments but I do find tremendous hypocrisy in the fact that most of those who do judge him and oppose the death penalty are usually the same people who believe in killing a human that has never committed any transgression or crime.

Personally, I like the surviving victim being able to speak for himself and his family within the constraints of the legal system (and the jury and court apparently agrees).

As liberal love to chant while spitting on soldiers, carrying crass banners and aborting babies; "It's their right and if you don't like a law then change it."

Meanwhile, as for me personally, I hope Steven Hays, the lifelong criminal who smiled when he received the death sentence, rots in hell.

This is not about someone else who received the death penalty or another similar case or 'blood-lust' after 9/11, or who Mr. Rogers ate supper with last Wednesday or any other red-herring .... this is about the Petit family murders. The deserve our focus if we are going to discuss them. Please try to focus on THIS case when discussing THIS case and evaluate each case on its own merits.

Chris P. Bacon
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By all means, JohnnyB!

Let's throw all notions of jurisprudence out the door! To hell with the Constitutional guarantee of a fair trial! Let's throw everything out except the immediate matter at hand, forget that it's a lurid "appeal to emotion" argument designed to gin up support for the death penalty!

Let's engage in some Hutch866-class situational outrage here!

Better yet, let's throw in some troop spittin', baby killin' incendiary non-sequiturs as well!

Forget about the fact that we have legal safeguards in place to protect the wrongly accused! The police never arrest an innocent person...they've got to be guilty of something, amiright?

Let's save some money and do away with the courts altogether! Frontier justice, that's the ticket! Yeeeehaw!

JohnnyBGood
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Hey Crispy.... are you okay?

He had a fair trial- it meets constitutional muster - so what are you talking about and why can't you stay on topic?

"Let's throw all notions of jurisprudence out the door! To hell with the Constitutional guarantee of a fair trial!"

Are the people you argue with on a regular basis so A.D.D. that your unfounded arguments are actually acceptable to the point of eliciting a rebuttal?

You have more straw men than Indiana and more (red) herrings than the ocean. Focus man! Focus!

By the way- your statement ("Better yet, let's throw in some troop spittin', baby killin' ...") implies that you feel that killing a human that has never committed any transgression or crime (my terms) is the same as "Killing Babies" (YOUR term) is that a Freudian slip or how you truly feel about abortion?! I never knew you were a Right to Lifer! Amazing!

hutch866
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Bacon, or, notsniffles

There you go again, assigning an opinion or putting words into my mouth, and yet you complain when others put words into yours, just another of your hypocritical rants. Maybe a little passive aggression here? What a tired phrase you use, although it's lasted you through how many identities now? You are always talking about and calling people liars, so here's the question, lets see how honest you are. ARE YOU SNIFFLES? Now we all know you are, I've even met you as sniffles, so lets put your vaunted honesty to the test, please I'm just dying to know, or confirm, Are you sniffles?

Chris P. Bacon
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Pshaw, Hutch, "vaunted honesty"?

You flatter me. I had no idea so you thought so highly of my "vaunted honesty"!

For the record, I didn't put any words in your mouth here, I was just using you as the "gold standard" of situational outrage, since you seem to routinely get your man-panties in a twist so often over things we dastardly liberals say, while simultaneously giving the right wingers a free pass for the same offenses.

Besides, I owed you one for that cheap shot of yours at me on 11/16 on the Soros thread. Turnabout is fair play, n'est-ce pas?

To answer your question, I used to post here as sniffles. Also sniffles4, sniffles5 and sniffles6 I believe. That was back when this place had the old Drupal system that let anyone disable anyone else's account, and BPR did that with regularity against people who failed to meet her Christian standards.

I switched Internet providers since then (ask Cal to provide you with the IP addresses of sniffles and myself) and since I didn't have access to my old email registration info, I opted to make a new ID.

Kudos to you, Nancy Drew!

hutch866
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notsniffles

The last time all I did was ask you a simple couple of questions and the next thing I knew there you were putting words in my mouth, and all I did was ask you two simple questions and I believe you wouldn't answer one because you thought it was "snarky". So let me ask it again, I put this to you not very long ago but you either didn't see it or avoided it. Lets say we have a pregnant 16 year old girl, on one side we have the people you had your "man panties" in a wad over telling her to keep the kid and on the other side we have you telling her to abort it, now, what makes your side the God's honest truth and makes the other side propaganda, how is a scared 16 year old girl to know the difference? Of course I'm sure this is yet again just a snarky question, so never mind. BTW, I believe your Man Panties must have been in a terrible wad for you to go off like you did on old Johnny here.

Mike King
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Chrispy

Fair trial, that was attained.
Safeguards, they were certainly in place.
Reaching a dealth penalty decision in Connecticutt, even you would admit is extraordinary.

I agree we do not need hysteria or public outrage, but merely calm, deliberate, and steady aim would suffice.

Have a great evening!

AtHomeGym
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Mike King & Bacon

Damn Mike, you beat me to just about the same comment! Besides, Bacon just couldn't resist dragging Hutch in for absolutely no reason whatsoever. The surprise is he didn't say anything about any of Hutch's relatives.

Observerofu
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I'm surprised he didn't add me in

shocking. Gotta name those dastardly devils that vex ole bacon you know.

Mike King
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Gym

I guess I posted while you were doing something worthwhile or productive. Surely relatives would not be brought into play, even by the most caustic of liberals.

Perhaps we can get a golf game between you, Hutch, and I in the near future. Or at least an adult beverage.

AtHomeGym
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Mike King & Golf

I stored the clubs long ago but am still active in the beverage consumption mode. Just need to do the coordination. As a retired person, I'm pretty flexible, but Tue/Thur are best days. Others are ok but best in pm as am taken up by fitness center activity.

Courthouserules
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Gym

You got suckered into fitness centers at a thousand or so a year, but consume quantities of alcohol?

AtHomeGym
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Court & Fitness Center

"Suckered"? I don't think so. Family mbrship is $51.00 a month--no contract. I can easily afford that plus whatever beverages I may choose to consume.

Mike King
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Gym

Ok, I'm also retired. What say we get together next Tues/Thurs around 4-5pm at a place of your choosing?

AtHomeGym
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Mike King & Meeting

Mike, how about Tue, 1630 at Ruby Tuesday in PTC?

Mike King
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Gym

I'll be there. Hopefully, Hutch will make an appearance. I'm sure he would if Court would consent to showing up.

Courthouserules
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MK

I remember bpr disappearing!

Courthouserules
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Mike K & Gym

I don't understand why I am never invited to anything, golf, adult beverages, but I am invited occasionally to TEA or coffee parties!

Weren't several notorious people murdered out in the open like that?
For the most part has the general public quit getting together with families at homes for socializing?

If I were allowed to choose a place to imbibe, I would choose Slurpee's! And bring my wife and kids.

AtHomeGym
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Court & Beverages

You are hereby invited to join us at Ruby Tuesday in PTC next Tuesday at 4:30pm for a beverage of your choice. Bring extra pills!

Courthouserules
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Gym

Couldn't come now! Anyway, not as identified. Will you be at the bar?
You have had time to notify others about "notorious" people may be there!
Too dangerous for me.

AtHomeGym
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Courthouse & Meeting

You see, problem is that with a number of us, you never know if one (or all) of us just might be packing heat---I don't know if I would want to take that chance!

Courthouserules
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Gym

The toilet in that place does not have a tank overhead where a gun could be taped!

AtHomeGym
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Court, Toilet, & Weapon

No problem if one has a Concealed Carry Permit!

Chris P. Bacon
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Bloodlust and revenge

Human beings have a near-infinite capacity for bloodlust and revenge (remember how George W. Bush channelled our post-9/11 national bloodlust against 23 Saudi hijackers to invade......Iraq).

Nobody denies that there are some seriously bad people out there, who commit heinous crimes. And these people should be punished for their crimes.

But short circuiting legal protections is no way to run a civilized country. Just last week, it was discovered that Texas executed Claude Jones based on a single thread of hair found at a murder scene, which DNA testing showed was not his hair.

Observerofu
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Well not quiet right bacon
Chris P. Bacon wrote:

Just last week, it was discovered that Texas executed Claude Jones based on a single thread of hair found at a murder scene, which DNA testing showed was not his hair.

"Scheck told the AP that this new DNA evidence doesn't necessarily exonerate Jones, "but he says the findings mean the evidence was insufficient under Texas law to convict Jones."

This from an avowed anti-death penalty advocate and blog site.

The DNA testing was inconclusive. The hair failed to have enough DNA to sample. Strange how all of a sudden the results of the test are now not the issue but that at the time according to him would have been insufficient.

btw-bacon a single thread of hair was NOT the only evidence.

http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/death/US/jones682.htm

You need to get your facts together bacon.

"After the murder, Jones told friends of his that he had killed Hilzendager because he was gay."

Jones was not a killer-"Jones, who also used the aliases Carl Roy Davis, Butch Jones, and Douglas Ray Starke, had eleven prior convictions in Texas for crimes including murder, armed robbery, assault, and burglary. He served 6 years of a 9-year prison sentence from 1959 to 1963 and three years of a 5-year sentence from 1963 to 1965. In 1976, he was convicted of murder, robbery, and assault in Kansas and received a life sentence. While in Kansas prison, Jones killed another inmate. He was paroled in 1984."

Well OK maybe he was but an Innocent? Not even close.

Texas put down another rabid animal. Job well done Texas.

Chris P. Bacon
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"The DNA testing was inconclusive"
Observerofu wrote:

"Scheck told the AP that this new DNA evidence doesn't necessarily exonerate Jones, "but he says the findings mean the evidence was insufficient under Texas law to convict Jones."

This from an avowed anti-death penalty advocate and blog site.

The DNA testing was inconclusive. The hair failed to have enough DNA to sample. Strange how all of a sudden the results of the test are now not the issue but that at the time according to him would have been insufficient.

btw-bacon a single thread of hair was NOT the only evidence.

Your claim that the DNA testing was inconclusive is incorrect. I'll give you a pass this time because I formatted my link to the Texas Observer incorrectly. The correct link is HERE

The Texas Observer paid for state-of-the-art mitochondrial DNA testing to be done on the hair sample found at the crime scene. The hair was found to belong to the shooting victim, not Jones.

This was the only physical evidence linking Jones to the crime scene.

Under Texas state law, the death penalty only applies when there is physical evidence linking someone to the crime scene. The other "evidence" consisted of an eyewitness seeing a guy with a beer belly leaving the store around the time the murder occured and two of Jones' criminal buddies ratting him out to save their own skin.

We'll never know now who really pulled the trigger.

Jones was a career criminal and deserved incarceration for his many crimes. He should not have been executed due to flawed evidence. I can see why an Constitution-hating, law-hating person such as yourself might believe otherwise, though.

JohnnyBGood
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All powerful Sniffles grants Observerofu "a pass".

What a generous liberal... and with a God complex no less.

Sniffles says: "I'll give you a pass this time ..."

(((Thank you too the almighty and all powerful Sniffles for not intellectually pulverizing and discounting my opinions and thoughts.)))

I would say this thread is a classic dismantling of the typical liberal pablum. It is certainly not a good thread for Sniffles to print and put in his scrapbook.

He is managing however to hijack the thread and divert attention away from the article and the victims.

Observerofu
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I got a pass.... I got a pass JBG same old fare

whoopie I got a pass.

Hijacking the topic and then attacking points not in play is his way to deflect issues he can't win.

Seems like bacon does that a lot.

Observerofu
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Doesn't matter but

the eye witness reports, as well as, Jones own statements put him on the gurney. The Clark link explains a much more detailed eyewitness accounts.

Jones should have been killed a long time ago. He committed at least 2 murders.

Justice was still served.

JohnnyBGood
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All BS and no content. Typical Sniffles.
Chris P. Bacon wrote:

Human beings have a near-infinite capacity for bloodlust and revenge (remember how George W. Bush channelled our post-9/11 national bloodlust against 23 Saudi hijackers to invade......Iraq).

Nobody denies that there are some seriously bad people out there, who commit heinous crimes. And these people should be punished for their crimes.

But short circuiting legal protections is no way to run a civilized country. Just last week, it was discovered that Texas executed Claude Jones based on a single thread of hair found at a murder scene, which DNA testing showed was not his hair.

The closest thing Sniffles says that even remotely relates to this article is less than one-fourth of his post. It doesn't take Nancy Drew to figure out who our local Main Scream Man of the Year is.

'nuff said.

Courthouserules
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Spark's Blog: Justice

"You shall not kill."

"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

Is the killing of a murderer, no matter how terrible, within the. "You shall not kill?"

It seems to be in "An eye, etc......"

Trouble is we are fallible in our trials way too many times, quite often due to presentations in court by the law and others. Also, justifiable defense of one's self.

Not to mention killing in wars, autos, hospitals, and violence of all sorts, where some may be accidents but someone is dead in any case.

"Vengeance is mine!"