Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Maryland General Assembly’s Death Penalty Folly: An IIlustrative Application of Reckless Legislation

Patrick Albert Byers Jr. has been convicted by a federal jury in the contract killing of Carl Stanley Lackl, an innocent and brave witness to Byers’ running with a gun from a killing.

After Byers’ arrest and about a week before his trial, Mr. Lackl was prepared to testify against him, but was executed by killers hired by Byers.

Byers had offered $2500 for the contract killing.

In a previous blog (March 29, 2009) I wrote about the ill-considered, highly irresponsible death penalty changes wreaked on this state by the intelligent-but-judgment-challenged members of Maryland’s General Assembly.

The changes, in lieu of eliminating the death penalty – an even more irresponsible goal – will limit use of the death penalty, as described in THE BALTIMORE SUN, to cases wherein evidence includes “DNA or biological evidence, a videotape of the crime or a video-recorded confession by the killer.”

Thus, the death penalty will not be eliminated, but will be eviscerated.

One of the primary concerns I articulated in my RED MARYLAND blog regarding the evidentiary changes required for seeking the death penalty (as well, of course, the eventual goal of eliminating of the death penalty) was that “incarcerated accused felons’ contracting with third parties to kill witnesses and convicts’ ordering killings or threats by cohorts will be punishment-free.”

When the next accused or convicted murderer in Maryland subsequently successfully orders another killing, you can thank the 2009 Maryland General Assembly and Governor. Murderers may not be as bright as those legislators who have paved the way for consequence-free murders, but the felons know how to avoid providing evidence that would make them eligible for the death penalty. The changes in the evidence required to seek the death penalty constitute a contract between would-be murderers and the state of Maryland.

Nice arrangement, and innocent, brave witnesses be damned.

There was no “DNA or biological evidence, a videotape of the crime or a video-recorded confession by the killer” in the murder of Mr. Lackl.

Unlike in Maryland courts, the death penalty may be invoked in this terrible case. The attorney for Byers is aware that the only issue for the convicted murderer is whether he is now sentenced to die, saying “It’s life or death.” If it’s not death, the killing of Mr. Lackl is virtually punishment-free.

The Maryland General Assembly will not suffer for their appallingly bad judgment. They don’t even publicly address the criticisms of their actions.

Professor Vatz is a professor at Towson University
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dudleysharp said...

Professor Vatz:

You, completely, misunderstand the situation. Those who voted for the death penalty restrictions are not "judgement challenged", by their standards.

The decision was knowingly based only upon a desire to come as close to ending the death penalty as possible.

You write as if they didn't know the implications of the restrictions. Of course they did. There desire was to end the death penalty for all cases. Of course they know that those serving life can never get additonal punishment for being involved in additonal murders.

Someone could blow up a packed Maryland Capital Building, murdering thousdands of people, could rape and murder dozens of children, admit it with a signed confession, and still not be subject to a state death penalty in Maryland.

The Maryland legislature knowingly and willingly did that.

So, it is no surprise that they also knew about the bad situations you wrote about.

That is what the Governor and legislature intended to do.

You should not have said they were "judgement challenged". For the anti death penalty model, it is "good judgement".

And, it is typical. The goal is to stop all executions, no matter the crimes or the number of innocents sacrificed.

How bad can death penalty repeal get? The New Mexico and New Jersey examples
Dudley Sharp, contact info below

1. "Rebuttal to Governor Richardson - Repeal of the Death Penalty in New Mexico"

2. "Why did Gov. Richardson repeal the death penalty? His legacy"

3. "DEAD WRONG: New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission"

Response, at bottom. One of four responses to New Jersey Assembly Speaker Roberts.

4. Some notes on New Mexico:

Specific anti death penalty arguments had no effect on the final outcome.

First, those arguments were, as Gov. Richardson knew, easily, rebutted or countered.

Secondly, New Mexico lawmakers state that the Democratic election propelled the death penalty repeal.

From The (Santa Fe) New Mexican newspaper: "Friday's decisive state Senate vote to repeal the death penalty in New Mexico was a direct result of November's election of several new lawmakers." The repeal bill's sponsor, Rep. Gail Chase said she was able to get the bill through because the 2008 election added three more senators to the Democratic majority" "District Attorney Lem Martinez, who spoken against the repeal bill, said "the Senate vote was the result of (President Barack) Obama's coattails." ("Senate backs death-penalty repeal", Steve Terrell, 3/13/09)

Furthermore, the newest anti death penalty issue, cost, had nothing to do with it, even though repeal advocates used it.

They had one problem.

The New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) was, clearly, in error, with their cost evaluations in their bill analysis - a fact which I pointed out to the NM legislature. First, New Mexico used a North Carolina cost study, which had no relevance in New Mexico. Secondly, the LFC misinterpreted the study, which actually finds the death penalty to be less expensive than a true life sentence, the opposite of the LFC statement.

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail, 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally

Daniel said...

At first, I was (& probably still am) convinced having the death penalty is a necessary evil.

But at least I think I can justify NOT having a death penalty since that should end all appeals ad infinitum for all on death row. Likely a savings of considerable taxpayer funds that would have been consumed over the next 19+ years for any and all on death row.

But one more thing, what should also be done is to curtail far more of the "niceties" that prisoners have now - since the incarceration is SUPPOSED to be a curtailment of freedom and a suspension of rights for being anti-social.

Just saying.

Gtoz said...

Time for term limits. One term for democrats, two for Republicans. Something very wrong when an unborn baby can be killed and an adult killer cannot.