Gary Heidnik Serial Psycho

Gary Heidnik
Serial Psycho

The debate has raged on for years; Should Pennsylvania Abolish the Death Penalty? Since it’s reinstatement in 1976 only 3 people have been executed. Keith Zettlemoyer was executed on May 2, 1995 for 1st Degree Murder, Leon Moser, Executed August 16, 1995 for 1st Degree Murder and Gary Heidnik on July 6, 1999. Heidnik was probably the most famous of the three. He kidnapped, tortured and murdered several women, some of whom he made eat the remains of those killed before them, in the basement of his home.

My opinion is simple; Either use the death penalty or get rid of it. To let not only the inmates but the victim’s families languish for years with no result is not reasonable by any standards. Now the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has created a task force to study the death penalty and make recommendations to our judicial system. Really? When they say that the death penalty costs the state more money than a life without parole sentence, I have to say I agree. To pay a bunch of pencil pushing panty-wastes an exorbitant salary to study this is ridiculous.

Victim, Jennifer Daugherty

Victim, Jennifer Daugherty

For an example let’s use the Jennifer Daugherty case from Greensburg, Pa. Six people have been charged with the torture-murder of the 30 year-old mentally challenged woman. 3 have been tried and convicted with two of them receiving the death penalty. This woman’s family has had to endure 3 trials so far, reliving all of the gruesome, graphic evidence 3 times over with still 3 more trials to go. What will the outcome be? Will these shit-bags, sorry, criminals be executed? You have a better chance of seeing Dale Earnhardt and Neil Bonnett race at Daytona again. 

Now let’s add in the groups that have never lost someone to a violent crime. Like the ACLU or Amnesty International. They claim that execution is painful and inhumane. So I guess kidnapping, torturing and murdering a mentally challenged woman isn’t. Some site the Bible where it says; “Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord…” Maybe, but it also says; “An eye for an eye…” Amnesty International says that Pennsylvania has 194 inmates on death row. The breakdown is as follows: 106 blacks, 68 whites, 18 Hispanics and 2 Asians. They further state that the death penalty is racially biased based on police procedures, adequacy of representation and other factors. They also say that African Americans get the death penalty more than whites who commit the same crime. Now see, here is where I get pissed over the whole damn debate. These groups use race as their basis for the outcome. When you use race, most people are afraid to tread there. Well my dear readers, I am not.

Instead of really relaying factual information, they skew it to fit their one-sided argument. While there are more black inmates on death row, how many come from socio-economically depressed areas? Philadelphia, to name only one, has its wealthy sides as well as its depressed neighborhoods, like most large urban areas. To that end, a lot of these people are forced to do things to make ends meet. Some are forced to commit robbery, sell drugs, prostitute and even be forced into the gang lifestyle. While Amnesty International is bemoaning racial profiling, did they factually state that the last 3 people put to death in Pennsylvania, Zettlemoyer, Moser and Heidnik, were all white? Um, I can answer that; No. It makes their racially bigoted argument look a little shaky. I guess because those 3 men were white, it was no big deal. Instead of relying on cold hard data, groups like Amnesty International, the ACLU and Decarcerate PA, can’t fund themselves if they stick to the whole truth. To me it seems like they just want to tilt at windmills, ANY windmill. Thank you Don Quixote.

John Lesko

John Lesko

Michael Travaglia

Michael Travaglia

Does housing an inmate on death row cost more? Yes it does. A 2011 story in The Allentown Morning Call stated that the Pa DOC spends approximately $10,000 more per inmate to house them on death row. Now add in the cost of trials and re-trials. Because the death penalty is an option these are capital cases costing the Commonwealth between 1 and 3 million per case. No add in suck-bags, sorry, inmates like Lesko and Travaglia, who between them have had upwards of 14 re-trials. Each time they get re-convicted and sentenced to death the fall under Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA), allowing them an automatic appeal. Now here is where I have the problem. They keep getting new trials based on the defense they received in their first trials back in 1982. Each time, both of these assholes, sorry, criminals are convicted and sentenced, they get a new trial. Someone needs to put on their big boy or girl gutchies and say; “No More.” It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback and say Pennsylvania is bleeding money, but no one wants to do anything about it.

I think it’s easy. Instead of paying a bunch of over-educated wieners an obscene amount of money to do a “Study”, use the money to carry out the executions. By allowing multiple appeals you are causing the State to spend more money on an open wound so to speak. Limit the amount of appeals. I mean really, how many times does a jury need convict someone of murder and sentence them to death before the courts actually believe them? Lesko and Travaglia are only part of what is wrong with our judicial system. Why do we keep granting re-trials and appeals based on old information? Like with Lesko and Travaglia, there is nothing new here. What do we hope to accomplish by this act of futility? Easy, Lesko and Travaglia and all of the others getting new trials every other day are basically thumbing their noses at the judicial system knowing they will never “Ride the Lightning”.

Ron "Tater Salad" White

Ron “Tater Salad” White

Now on the other side of the coin, if the Commonwealth decides to abolish the death penalty then let’s change some sentencing guidelines. I mean some of Pennsylvania’s mandatory sentencing practices now need revamping. But onto where I was heading a minute ago. Instead of being sentenced to death, change it to Life without the possibility of parole. One appeal, that’s it. Stop clogging up the courts with these ridiculous appeals that 99% of the time has the same outcome. Is it possible that new information could come to light exonerating the inmate? Possibly. Since 1973 140 people have been released following the proof of wrongful conviction in the United States. That is compared to 1,329 executed in that same period. So in 40 years only 140 have been freed Nation-wide? Sounds like a pretty good ratio to me, but I digress. The change in sentencing guidelines is probably the biggest thing that needs to happen. Comedian Ron White from Texas said; In Texas, if you kill someone, we’ll kill you back. If there are 2 or more credible witnesses who saw what you did, you go to the head of the line. Most states are trying to abolish the death penalty, Texas put in an express lane.” Texas is not afraid to use the death penalty. Since 2010 they have executed 45. Since 1974 they have executed 492.

Ok, now that I have rambled on for what seemed like an unbearable amount of time, the bottom line for me is very simple. If the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is going to keep the Death Penalty on the books then use it. If they are not going to use it, dump it. It’s not of any solace to a victim’s family to see someone “ceremoniously” sentenced to death to then never have the sentence carried out. Someone needs to get off their asses and make a decision. Appointing a committee to “study” the death penalty is as stupid as it is reckless. The State whines about budget shortfalls but appoints committees to study how much poop ducks and geese shat out. Instead of telling teachers their pay will be based on the success of their students how about our politicians in Harrisburg and Washington have their pay based on the amount of jobs they created or social services they saved, not how much they can spend on lavish trips and other tax payer funded perks. Geeze, and they call ME crazy…

Advertisements