Jury decided wrong

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 27, 2003

I’d like to have been one of the 12 on the jury deciding the fate of John Allen Muhammad. I’d have done my best to influence and sway them to thinking death is far too easy for an animal who thought there were rational reasons for what he did, the grief he helped cause. OK, so his lawyers failed him after trying their best to actually believe he was worth redeeming, perhaps one day to become an asset to society. They knew like everyone else that he was guilty and their effort and expense was merely to somehow avert the death penalty. This jury was not buying.

If the latter was indeed his lawyers’ motive, unlike the team that convinced an oblivious jury that O.J. was innocent, I wish they had been successful. Millions of us want Muhammad to remain alive in a federal prison until the day he faces a natural death on his own. I want him to have a TV, nutritious meals and good medical care. He is a young man and could live maybe another 50 years in confinement, the worst punishment in my book. I want him to enjoy the companionship of fellow-minded criminals, penned up with not even a glimpse of the freedom outside the walls. Give him decades of not having even a chance of ever shedding his prison uniform and walking through a park by a river, being with a woman, driving across America, knowing again what it feels like to come and go at will. How many times might he ask himself if it was worth it? If the fame and glory makes up for loss of freedom he had while killing. Now that’s punishment.

I would add a caveat to his life sentence, the threat of gunshot to his body. He should be informed that at any hour of the day or night a bullet could mortally wound him as he paced his cell. It would come without warning, he’d hear the shot but not know from whence it came. That’s not an eye for an eye, merely a constant reminder of what he made possible to happen to several innocent persons. Then, about once a month, a rifle could be fired from some distance away. In addition, pictures of all the faces of victims and their families should be on permanently affixed to his cell walls.


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How many stories and movies have there been about some person in terrible pain being &uot;put out of their misery?&uot; Steve McQueen, in the movie &uot;Sand Pebbles,&uot; shot his Chinese friend to spare him torture by his enemies. Other early white men shot dozens of early white men when the Indians tied them to a stake for torture. Recently, Dr. Death almost made a business of terminating lives of suffering humans who had had enough. Pet euthanasia is a profession. And don’t forget the innumerable firing squads used throughout the world to eliminate. Those souls were guilty of many kinds of infractions that someone decided was reason to be killed. Death is, and always will be, considered a terrible punishment, but it’s the easy out. On what basis does Muhammad deserve that?

This numbskull Malvo is a different story; he insists he is pleased because he intended to &uot;kill them all.&uot; He is too stupid to understand the enormity of his crimes. This idiot is laughable in a sense because he pictured himself as a James Bond on the wrong side of the law, serving humanity by eliminating people he didn’t know. I’d love to see his bravado melt into a puddle when a jury foreman reads his death sentence, very slowly. Even if he were awarded a life term his compatriots behind the walls would carry out his execution.

Remember, this is an opinion piece. Mine may differ in many respects from yours. Opinion is based upon how one feels, it is not based upon one’s experience or education. Recently I got into a dither with a local lawyer who chastised me for having an uninformed opinion, whatever that is. I received several e-mail letters and I quote from one of them: &uot;I agree with your original sentiment regarding lawyers. I don’t respect the profession as a whole and this is due to the way they seem to be systematically destroying our culture by challenging any element of order, decency and tradition for a buck, and then shopping around for another lawyer, this time wearing a robe, that will get them the result they want.&uot; I hope he was referring to the ACLU.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be contacted via e-mail: robert.pocklington@suffolknewsherald.com