Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Murder at 1 County Complex Court

Prince William County in Virginia and Harris County in Texas have something in common: each jurisdiction leads in executions in their respective states, with Texas leading the nation and Virginia following right behind.

The Houston Chronicle, one of the best sources in educating the public on the issue of capital punishment is once again EDUCATING.

Anyone remember the Houston crime lab scandal where stacks of cases were botched by analysts and at least one man was later exonerated and pardoned after the Chronicle began reporting of the unholy mess in breaking news throughout 2002 and 2003?

How about the more recent investigative journalism story of Ruben Cantu, a poor 17-year kid with no prior record who was wrongfully executed in Texas?

Well, in the same tradition, the Chronicle recently penned an article about the changing winds of justice in the United State; it seems more and more prosecutors are rejecting capital punishment.

In noting the decline, the Chronicle writes:

In the last 2 1/2 years, the deadliest county in America has apparently lost some of its taste for what former District Attorney Johnny Holmes used to call the "silver needle society."

In that time it has condemned only six defendants to death, two fewer than Bexar County, which historically has ranked a distant third in capital contributions.

Death row convictions have also "dropped by more than 50 percent nationally over the last six years."

Praise the LORD; and a thousand Hallelujahs!

"Life without parole has changed the public's perception," Schneider said. "If you have the idea that you are safe from somebody who will never get out of prison, some juries are satisfied with that. And for prosecutors, it's easy for them to try a non-death capital, get life without parole, and do it in a week.

Time is saved and public resources are saved."

But Virginia apparently didn't receive the memo. Legislators keep trying to add more and more felonies to the list of death-eligible crimes and Prince William County prosecutors continue to party like it's 1999.

Last session, the General Assembly overrode Gov. Tim Kaine's veto and added two more felonies to the death list; and just a few weeks ago, a Prince William County jury convicted and sentenced a man to die.

Joshua Wayne Andrews, 25, became the latest member to join death row; and while doing so, he gave lie to rosy predictions by happy death penalty warriors that executions prevent future crimes. Mr. Andrews' father was sentenced to die for killing two people in Texas during a jewelry heist.

Indeed, no thanks to public officials, capital murder convictions in Virginia mirror national trends and have also dropped. such luck for good ol' Prince William County.

And yet...all is not lost.

It looks like the county's Judge Roy Bean reputation might have started to worry some people. In reporting the recent murder trial, The Potomac News quotes the commonwealth attorney's closing argument that is filled with laughable phony angst -- lest the jury believe he actually relishes his job.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney James Willette asked the jury to sentence Andrews to death.

"We take no pleasure in that. It's a difficult thing for us to ask, a difficult thing for you to do," Willette said.

But, he said, Andrews continues to be a threat if he continues to live.

Now have you ever heard such a load of crap?!?

Howling Latina supposes this bushel of absurdity is the reason prosecutors strike jurors with advanced degrees or professional occupations; for yes, this is the same gamey gang that absolutely demanded, yes, demanded a few years ago that a jury convict and sentence a teen to die because he was a coward.

First you're a coward and then you're a killing machine, as you read on.

Here's what the prosecution told a Manassas jury back in 2002, courtesy of Lexis-Nexis.

Prosecutors argued that Wolfe hired Barber for about $ 13,000 and some drugs because he knew Barber would be willing to carry out such a plan. They relied in part on cell phone records -- which showed Barber was in constant contact with Wolfe at the time of the killing -- and told jurors that Wolfe would do anything for money, including killing his supplier and so-called friend.

"If this man hadn't set the ball rolling, if he didn't know the propensity of Barber, if he didn't use him as an instrument of death, we wouldn't be here today," Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert told the jury yesterday, calling Wolfe a "coward" who "didn't have the guts to do it himself."

And here's what the assistant commonwealth attorney told a jury at the Andrews trial, as reported in The Washington Post a few days ago.
[P]rosecutors portrayed Andrews as a "killing machine," a man so violent and volatile that he remains a constant threat. Even in prison, they said, he is a danger to staff and other inmates.

So folks, forget Willette's crocodile tears. The iron-clad fact of the matter is that Prince William County prosecutors love to send people to the death chamber.

How else to explain why four out of the last 12 most recent capital murder prosecutions and convictions in Virginia fell under the jurisdicition of Paul Ebert Dracula...?

Oh, and let's not overlook that after Circuit Judge Rossie Alston gives his blessing, Mr. Andrews will be the fifth one -- and all within a five-year span.

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