I thought Texas governor Rick Perry handled himself with repose and restraint when he answered Brian Williams' loaded question about the death penalty during last week's GOP presidential debate at the Reagan Library. Williams asked:
Governor Perry, a question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times. Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of them, those (sic) might have been innocent?
Some were appalled that the audience erupted in applause when they heard that Texas had executed 234 people during Perry's tenure. Glenn Greenwald at Salon called the applause "creepy and disgusting." Speaking of creepy and disgusting, it is worth noting that Greenwald's piece has a picture of Governor Perry beside one of Osama bin Laden. Greenwald possesses all the subtlety of a ball-peen hammer.
When Williams asked Perry what he made of "the mention that the execution of 234 people just drew applause," the governor began his reply by simply stating, "Americans understand justice." Yet I suspect that Brian Williams' concept of justice is quite different from that of a majority of Americans. Williams leaves one with the impression that these 234 people were upstanding citizens who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. No. These 234 people committed the most heinous crimes imaginable. Let's take a look at but a few of the people who have been executed in Texas over the past year or so.
On June 15, 2010, the state of Texas executed David Powell for the 1978 murder of police officer Ralph Ablanedo. Powell shot Ablanedo at least four times with an AK-47. The execution of Powell brought relief to Ablanedo's family, who had been waiting more than three decades for justice to be served.
On October 21, 2010, the state of Texas executed Larry Wooten for the 1996 murder of 80-year old Grady Alexander and his 86-year-old wife Bessie. Wooten stabbed the elderly couple and slit their throats, nearly beheading them. Wooten also beat Mrs. Alexander with a pistol with such force that the grip and portions of the trigger mechanism broke off. To add insult to injury, Wooten then robbed the Alexanders of over $500 in cash.
On February 22, 2011, the state of Texas executed Timothy Wayne Adams for the 2002 murder of his 19-month old son, whom he twice shot in the chest. Adams' attorneys maintained that the shooting was brought about by "an emotional crisis" when he learned his wife was going to leave him. As if killing a defenseless child is a natural response to an emotional crisis.
On July 7, 2011, the state of Texas executed Humberto Leal Garcia, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, for the 1994 abduction, rape, and murder of a 16-year old girl named Adria Saveda. Garcia sexually assaulted Saveda with a piece of lumber and then crushed her skull with a 35-pound piece of asphalt. When Saveda's body was found, the piece of lumber was still protruding from her genitalia. You would think that someone like Garcia wouldn't inspire much sympathy. But you would be wrong.
Because authorities in Texas did not inform Garcia of his rights to contact the Mexican consulate when he was in custody, his case and that of other Mexican nationals was championed by the UN International Court of Justice, which in 2004 ruled that the United States had violated the Vienna Convention and ordered it to review all death row convictions of Mexican nationals. Yet Garcia did not disclose that he was a Mexican national at the time of his arrest nor was the issue raised by his attorneys either prior to or during his trial.
Nevertheless, President Obama saw fit to petition the Supreme Court to block Garcia's execution on the basis of the 2004 ICJ decision. The White House made the case that if Garcia was executed then it would do "irreparable harm" to Americans' interests and that Americans detained abroad would be denied due process. Does anyone honestly think Iran would refrain from detaining American hikers because the U.S. didn't execute Garcia? It should be noted that former president George W. Bush and former secretary of state Colin Powell also agreed that Garcia's execution should be stayed. Writing in the American Thinker, Monte Kuligowski begs to differ:
For all the "irreparable harm" against America's interests envisioned by the global-minded elitists of the world, it should be noted that Garcia was afforded full constitutional protections before, during, and after trial.
Though he was executed for his heinous and unspeakable acts, Garcia enjoyed all the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens, including the assistance of legal counsel and trial by jury.
When it was just about to be all said and done, Garcia confessed to his crime moments before his execution, stating, "I am sorry for the victim's family for what I had did. May they forgive me." His final words were "Viva Mexico. Viva Mexico."
President Obama used his prestige to stand up for a murderer and rapist of a child. Governor Perry and the authorities in Texas, by contrast, stood up for Adria Saveda and her family.
While Brian Williams and liberal elites might have trouble sleeping at night because the Lone Star state sees fit to execute rapists and murderers, the good people of Texas sleep soundly.
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