Tuesday, January 03, 2006

CNN.com - Did Virginia execute an innocent man? - Jan 3, 2006

I don't know if this guy was innocent or not, but I hope the DNA testing is done. I think if the state is in possession of viable DNA evidence from old cases, and that evidence could be exculpatory, the state has a responsibility to do the test, and to do it as quickly as possible. My guess is that 99% of these tests will show that the proper person was convicted, but it's that remaining percentage that makes all the difference.

I do wonder how much difference it would make in public opinion if Coleman is exonerated by the DNA. From the article -

"I think it would be the final straw for a lot of people who are on the fence on the death penalty," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington.

I think there's some truth to that, but I also think there are a lot of people who will say that even if he didn't do this crime, he was still a bad guy and point to his attempted rape conviction. I don't agree with this view, but I think a lot of people will take that position.

On the subject of DNA testing, I wonder if OJ would have gotten off if his trial were held today? I think CSI has made the average citizen much more aware of DNA evidence. DNA evidence is no longer considered lofty scientific stuff, in fact, I would say it's solidly mainstream now. I wasn't one of the trial-watchers back then, but I remember the defense trying to confuse the jury about the blood evidence, which was damning for OJ. I wonder if they would fall for it now?

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John Howard said...

I'm all in favor of the death penalty, except that there's way too much chance of them executing an innocent person, and that it seems to be applied pretty unfairly. So, I'm opposed to it, but only because I don't think there's any way to do it properly, and without doubt. I'm not a fan of the making an omelette/break a few eggs approach. If one innocent guy gets executed, that's too much. Because I always try to think of it from the point of view of the innocent guy. If they have evidence, they should definitely test it, if they're killing innocent people, they need to know that, regardless of the person's other crimes. If his other crime was worthy of the death penalty, then why wasn't he given it for those crimes? That argument is just so people can feel better about themselves when supporting the death penalty.

As far as OJ is concerned, I was home from work sick for a lot of that trial and I watched a lot of it. I don't see how he got off then, but there's no way he would get off now. It's pretty clear that the jury didn't know what the fuck the DNA was all about. No matter how much corruption there may have been, nothing is going to create a false positive DNA result. There could have been unusable results, but not the wrong result. Either way, the jusr was stupid, it's clear he was guilty beyond any doubt, much less a reasonable one. At least they got him on those illegal DirecTV cards.

Anonymous said...

Whether Coleman and others on America's death rows actually did the crimes they were convicted of is irrelevant. The death penalty is abhorant, its use saying much more about us as a society than it ever could about the killers condemned to die. That the imposition of the death penalty could mean an innocent person might die only adds to the horror.

For more, read Uncommon Sense

John Howard said...

I definitely respect that opinion, but I just think that some people don't have anything to offer the world, and we're better off without them. If someone killed someone I loved, and I knew for sure they did it, I wouldn't feel bad at all for that person to die. And while it wouldn't make me feel better, it would definitely make me feel worse to know they're alive while my loved one isn't. So I can see both sides.