Notes: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stayed the execution of Texas inmate Napoleon Beazley. He was convicted of killing John Luttig of Tyler, Texas, by shooting him twice in the head in his driveway. Beazley and two others were attempting a carjacking of Luttig's car. Luttig's wife survived by playing dead, lying on the ground by her husband. At that time Beazley, a star quarterback, was 17 years old. Neither Beazley nor his lawyers claim innocence, but claim the death sentence is too harsh for one so young.

The victim was the father of a lawyer is now a prominent federal appeals court judge, J. Michael Luttig. Judge Luttig earlier clerked for United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and advised Justices David H. Souter and Clarence Thomas of the court during their confirmation hearings. This led to the unusual situation last week of causing all three to recuse themselves from hearing a request for a stay filed by Beazley's lawyers. In an unusual tie vote -- three to three -- the remaining justices turned down Beazley's request. A majority is needed to stay an execution.
Within a day, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals delayed the execution.

The above cartoon is written from a murder victim's viewpoint. States vary as to the age at which a person may be executed, and some states, though not Texas, prohibit the execution of a retarded person. All states prohibit the execution of an insane person. There is some irony in this because most of us are more frightened by random or unexplained killings than by a murder done for a purpose by a mentally-competent killer. It likely wouldn't make a bit of difference to the victim whether his murderer was competent, incompetent or a juvenile. I don't believe I would feel any less aggrieved over a loved one's murder because the assailant was incompetent or young. 

However -- though I'm without sympathy for violent criminals --
I am not in favor of the death penalty, but instead favor life without parole. Such punishment would avoid the extreme caution, labyrinthian appeals and lengthy delays caused by the finality of the death penalty. Moreover, I cannot imagine a worse punishment than life in prison without hope. If a person did turn out to be innocent, it could be proved while he was serving his sentence. Additionally, too frequently, nations that have allowed the death penalty have used it to political ends at some point in their history. 08.19.01