The D.C. Sniper, John Allen Muhammad, who terrorized the Washington metropolitan area in 2002, has been executed in a Virginia prison.
The execution came more than seven years after the 48-year-old Gulf War veteran and his young accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, 24, killed 10 people and wounded six others. Malvo is serving a life prison sentence.
Depending on who you talk to (the prosecution or the defense), Muhammad either showed no remorse or unmistakable signs of severe mental illness. On a procedural level, there is no question of the legitimacy of his trial. But he is nonetheless the latest in an age-old question: Does the state ever have the right to kill a criminal?
I think Muhammad is as guilty as a man can be, but I don't think the state has that right. The state exists to protect citizens from violence while using as little force as possible (force, not costs). Contra various well-spoken Supreme Court justices, the cost of civilizations is not paying taxes, sterilizing apparent mental defectives, or executing cold-blooded killers, even apart from an infinite number of procedural questions. It is maintaining something less than chaos while perpetrating as little violence as possible.
Muhammad should have rotted in prison rather than be killed via lethal injection.