Friday, November 13, 2009

An Example of Expedient Justice


As most of you already know, John Allen Muhammad, 48, was executed this past Tuesday night for terrorizing the D.C. area for three weeks in 2002 with sniper attacks that left 10 people dead.

In 2003, a Virginia jury sentenced him to death for one of the murders, specifically that of Dean Harold Meyers. The victim was killed while pumping gas at station in Manassas, Virginia. Muhammad’s defense lawyers argued that he was not mentally competent to stand trial, but the courts disagreed and he was found guilty.

Muhammad hunted people going about their daily chores, but why he chose his victims, including a middle school kid on his way to class, and how many victims there were still remains a mystery. Muhammad was silent as he was executed, leaving the victims who survived and the survivors of those frustrated. They had hoped for some insight as to why and how he plotted the killings, as had the public at large. They would not get their wish.

But overriding this disappointment is the good news: in this case, justice has been served!

Muhammad changed his name from John Allen Williams after converting to Islam. He had been in and out of the military since he graduated from high school in Louisiana and entered the National Guard. He joined the Army in 1985 and was a Gulf War veteran. Although he did not take special sniper training, he did earn an “expert” rating in the M-16 rifle (the military equivalent of the .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle used in the shootings).

The U.S. Supreme Court turned down Muhammad’s final appeal on Monday evening and Governor Timothy Kaine denied clemency Tuesday afternoon. Muhammad was executed that night, much to the relief of those who felt that justice often moves too slowly.

I am so impressed by the expediency of justice in this case. It was only six years from conviction (2003) to execution (2009). The way this case went through the system is impressive. No matter what you think about the death penalty itself, no one can deny that it is a sad case all around. The deaths, the loss for the families of the victims, are truly heartbreaking – it’s the worst part of being human when we see senseless killings occurring and are unable to stop them.

In Muhammad’s case, we have an excellent example of how such cases can quickly move through the justice system! We can actually resolve a death sentence case of this magnitude without giving up anyone’s legal rights.  Six years is a reasonable period for a case to run, and for true justice to be provided. The sniper had every legal right available to him, and used them. The ultimate resolution--the death penalty--was handed down with sureness and relative speed, just as it should be.

1 comment:

J said...

Typical biased drivel from a former (thank God) career prosecutor.
Q: What't the difference betwen a prosecutor and an executioner?
A: Nothing

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