Last week, Governor Tom Wolf granted a temporary reprieve to inmate Terrance Williams was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to die for senselessly murdering Amos Norwood with a tire iron during a robbery. Williams was formally sentenced July 1, 1987. Williams had already been convicted of murder and robbery in two separate cases at the time of his 1986 trial. He was scheduled to die by lethal injection on March 4th of 2015. Wolf also vowed to grant other reprieves in essence declaring a moratorium on executions in the Keystone State. Williams would have been the first involuntary execution since 1978. There have been three other executions in the state but the last 3 have given up their appeals. The last one was Gary Heidnik in 1999. Heidnik, you may remember, from a previous post, was convicted for kidnapping 5 women near Philadelphia, sexually assaulting them, chaining them in his basement and killing 2 of them. To add to the unsettling nature of his crimes, the women he killed were chopped up in his food processor and fed them to the remaining captives. Did he deserve to die? The courts thought so.
I have a hard time listening to some of the tree hugging whiners bitching just because they can. Some people jump on the band wagon with no real conviction either way. The death penalty has always been a touchy subject with different groups. There are those on both sides of this who make good arguments. I am not going to say how I feel about this until I have finished my thought process. I will present arguments for both sides so please bear with me here.
If we want to talk about the justification for the death penalty then here we go.
George Emil Banks was sentenced to death by electrocution, but later declared by the court to be too psychotic to execute. Banks, a former Camp Hill prison guard, shot 13 people to death on September 25, 1982 in Wilkes-Barre City and Jenkins Township, Pennsylvania, including five of his own children.
Banks said he killed his children because he felt they would be tormented by the cruelty of racial views against mixed race children. Since his conviction, Banks has tried to kill himself four times and has gone on hunger strikes that required him to be force-fed. A psychiatric report filed in the case says Banks believes he is in a spiritual fight with an Antichrist in New York, that Pennsylvania was controlled by the Islamic religion and he has engaged in a “private war with President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky”.
November 29, 1990, the Pennsylvania State Legislature barred further use of the electric chair amidst debate that electrocution was cruel and unusual punishment and approved lethal injection. December 2, 2004, Banks received a stay of execution. May 12, 2010, Banks was declared incompetent to be executed by Luzerne County Judge Joseph Augello following a week-long competency hearing held the previous month.
Sharon Mazzillo (24) – Former girlfriend of George Banks who was engaged in a custody dispute over their son, Kissmayu Banks. Gunshot wound to the chest.
Kissmayu Banks (5) – The son of Sharon Mazzillo and George Banks. Gunshot wound to the face.
Scott Mazzillo (7) – Nephew of Sharon Mazzillo. Kicked, hit with the rifle butt, killed with a gunshot wound to the face.
Alice Mazzillo (47) – Sharon Mazzillo’s mother. Shot in the face while on the phone with police.
Regina Clemens (29) – Girlfriend of George Banks. Gunshot wound to the face.
Montanzima Banks (6) – The daughter of Regina Clemens and George Banks. Gunshot wound to the heart.
Susan Yuhas (23) – Girlfriend of George Banks, sister of Regina Clemens. Gunshot wound to the head.
Boende Banks (4) – The son of Susan Yuhas and George Banks. Gunshot wound to the face.
Mauritania Banks (20 months) – Daughter of Susan Yuhas and George Banks. Gunshot wound to the face.
Dorothy Lyons (29) – Girlfriend of George Banks. Gunshot wound to the neck.
Nancy Lyons (11) – Daughter of Dorothy Lyons. Gunshot would to the head.
Foraroude Banks (1) – The son of Dorothy Lyons and George Banks. Gunshot wound to the head.
Raymond F. Hall Jr. (24) – Bystander who had been attending a party across the street. Gunshot wound to the liver and kidney.
Keith Mazzillo (13) – Hid in a closet while he watched his grandmother Alice die due to a gun shot wound to the head.
Angelo Mazzillo (10) – Hid under the bed where his grandmother Alice died.
James Olsen (22) – Survived a gun shot wound to the chest.
Unidentified Man that Banks car jacked at gun point.
All of that seems like enough to say; “Yep, throw the switch, this guy needs to go.” But if you look at the whole picture, there seems to be a mental issue at work here. Look at what he had attempted since being convicted. Now he has been declared incompetent to be executed. Also I must say, pretty vile. It was a horrific killing that rocked the area.
Harvey Miguel Robinson is a prisoner on death row. He is thought to be one of the youngest serial killers in history. He is also the first serial killer in the history of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Robinson was only 19 yrs. old when he was arrested.
He raped & killed 3 women who are:
Joan Burghardt, a 29-year-old nurse’s aide (August 1992)
Charlotte Schmoyer, a 15-year-old newspaper carrier (June 1993)
Jessica Jean Fortney, a 47-year-old grandmother (July 1993)
His fourth victim, a woman named Denise Sam-Cali was raped and beaten but escaped alive. Robinson returned to Denise’s house and a waiting police officer exchanged gunfire with him. Robinson was tracked to a local hospital where he was arrested. Right now, Robinson’s death sentence has been stayed. (as of April 2006).
Okay, case #2 where the punishment seems to fit the crime. It’s really hard to find another punishment for this type or crime but is there?
John Lesko and Michael Travaglia Were convicted in 1981 for the “Kill for Thrill” murder spree that rocked Western Pennsylvania in December of 1979 and January 1980. They began their spree 2 days after Christmas in 1979 when they kidnapped a 56 year old male outside the Edison Hotel in Pittsburgh. They drove the victim in his stolen car to just outside Saltsburg, Pa. When the trio exited the vehicle to urinate, Lesko shot the victim point-blank in the head. The second victim was killed in the early hours of New Years morning 1980. The 26-year-old female picked the pair up hitch hiking back to Pittsburgh. They placed her in the back seat then shot and killed her. They dumped the car with the victim in a parking garage in Pittsburgh.
Victim 3 was kidnapped in Pittsburgh on January 3rd, 1980. He was a 31-year-old male that the pair savagely beat. Then they drove him Indiana County where they bound his hands and feet. Stuffed his clothes with rocks and threw him into Blue Spruce Lake where he drowned. The pair kept the victim’s car and drove to Apollo, Pa where they passed a 21-year-old police officer on his third shift for the Apollo Police department. They sped past Officer Miller several times trying to incite a vehicle pursuit. When Officer Miller pulled the pair over a short time later, he was shot several times while approaching the vehicle. Mortally wounded, Officer Miller retreated to his vehicle where he returned fire and radioed for back up. Fortunately, they were apprehended a short time later.
Now more to this case. I think this is the case that has a lot of people shouting foul. Not because of the fact they were convicted and sentenced but the fact that between them they have managed to clog up the court system with 14 appeals. It is far to many for anyone. It makes one wonder; how many times does a person or persons need to be convicted and sentenced for the same crime before we realize, “Hey, they might actually be guilty.” However, that is not the point of this so far. I said I would give 2 sides to the Death Penalty argument. These last three cases are just one side of the argument. They show heinous crimes that warranted the convicted to be sentenced to death.
The other side of the argument; the side that says it is wrong to put someone to death. Then we get in to Scripture. Supporters of the Death Penalty will site certain passages like the three below to support their argument.
fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.
Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
Then we have Matthew 5:38-40 or Romans 12:18-20, which I feel support the other side; those against it.
Matthew 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ 39“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40“If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.…
Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20“BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”…
All of the case reports and Bible quotes aside. I think this all boils down to one question; “Which one of us has the right to say who should die? Are we above the Almighty himself? We have a lot of ego to think it’s not a big deal to say who should die and who should live. I have a pretty simple thought process on the Death Penalty. I feel if Pennsylvania is going to keep the Death Penalty on the books, then let’s use it. It doesn’t do a service to the victim’s loved ones and family by ceremoniously sentencing someone to death then grant them appeal after appeal. All you do is drag the survivors through yet another trial, having to listen to all the details yet again of how their loved one was killed. And at the end of the day, the person who murdered their family member is still alive to appeal another day and the victim is still dead. More agony and sorrow for those left behind to mourn and try to find closure.
Truly, I do not believe Pennsylvania will ever hold another execution. So instead of letting this “Bipartisan Committee” suck more money from the tax payers to do not much of anything useful, let’s just do away with the Death Penalty all together. Some feel that having the death penalty is a great deterrent for violent crime. It’s not when EVERYONE knows they won’t be executed. I feel this is just a case of prestidigitation by our newly elected governor. He can say; “Look what I did, I kept one of my campaign promises the first few months I was in office.” All the while, sliding something past us that is far worse than the death penalty. Higher taxes, Lower wages whatever. Instead of slight of hand, maybe he could find another way to help out victims of crime. Maybe he could take a page from Nevada. Anyone convicted of a sexual crime involving a child under 14 buys a mandatory life sentence. I think it is a fair trade-off.
I guess I have ruffled a few feathers here. Well anyone who knows me, knows I don’t really care. It’s my job to piss people off. I think none of us have the right to decide if someone lives or dies. Who are we to say it’s okay to kill someone. I have never had a family member or a loved one murdered so I can not accurately say I know how they feel, but I can say that knowing the person responsible for the death is allowed to continue to breathe after being sentenced to death is hard to fathom but even I have to say to them;
John 8:7 – Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.
Geeze, and they call ME crazy…