Death Penalty

This Man Didn't Kill Anyone. Texas Plans To Execute Him Tonight Anyway. (UPDATE: Supreme Court Blocks Execution)

Texas' law of parties is to blame.

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CBS DFW/Screenshot

Patrick Murphy, who's likely to be executed Thursday night for his role in the 2000 murder of a Texas police officer, is not innocent.

Murphy, convicted of sexual assault prior to the murder, was one of the infamous "Texas 7" who escaped from prison and carried out a botched robbery that led to Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins' death. But he did not pull the trigger. Neither was he directly involved in the officer's death, Murphy says.

"I'm not challenging the guilt of the crime," he told CBS Dallas-Fort Worth this week. "My role was basically really to be the getaway driver."

In mid-December 2000, Murphy and six other maximum-security inmates were able to steal weapons from the prison armory and drive off in a truck. They would go on to carry out two robberies, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Their luck ran out on Christmas Eve, as they were in the midst of stealing guns and money from a sporting goods store. A concerned bystander called police, and Hawkins was the first officer to arrive on the scene. Murphy, from his post in front of the sporting goods store, warned his co-conspirators that Hawkins was coming. Hawkins went around to the back of the store and was shot 11 times.

"I didn't even realize shots had been fired for probably 10 or 15 minutes," Murphy told CBS DFW.

Murphy was eligible for the death penalty due to Texas' law of parties. "If, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it, if the offense was committed in furtherance of the unlawful purpose and was one that should have been anticipated as a result of the carrying out of the conspiracy," the statute reads.

In layman's terms, it mean that if a group of people plan to commit a robbery, and someone is killed in the process, all of them are guilty of murder, so long as they could have reasonably anticipated the death occurring as a result of or in conjunction with the robbery.

Murphy said in his written confession that his "purpose was to if pursued by the police I was to initiate a firefight with the AR-15." So even though he didn't pull the trigger, he was held criminally responsible for Hawkins' death.

"It is unconscionable that Patrick Murphy may be executed for a murder he did not commit that resulted from a robbery in which he did not participate," Murphy's attorneys, David Dow and Jeff Newberry, said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

As Lauren Krisai, the former director of criminal justice reform at the Reason Foundation, which publishes this website, explained in 2016, these sorts of laws are not limited to Texas.

Consider Ryan Holle. He was convicted of first-degree murder in Florida because he lent his car to two friends, who would go on to commit a robbery and kill an 18-year-old girl. Holle was sentenced to life without parole, even he was nowhere near the scene of the crime. Felony-homicide laws have led to murder charges for people who weren't directly involved in victims' deaths in Virginia and Illinois as well.

Last October in California, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law legislation that limited the state's ability to bring murder charges against people who weren't actually involved.

Texas legislators, meanwhile, have proposed legislation that would prevent people like Murphy from being sentenced to death.

But it likely won't be enough to save his life. "Five individuals have lost their lives as a result of the role they played in his murder, four of whom have been executed by the State of Texas for their roles in taking Officer Hawkins' life. Carrying out the execution of Patrick Murphy, who neither fired a shot at Officer Hawkins nor had any reason to know others would do so, would not be proper retaliation but would instead simply be vengeance," his attorneys wrote in a clemency petition to the state parole board, according to the Chronicle. The parole board declined to take action, after a state appellate court refused to grant him a stay of execution.

Murphy's hopes now lie with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who can grant clemency, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Murphy converted to Buddhism and wants his spiritual adviser, Rev. Hui-Yong Shih, to be by his side when he's given the lethal injection. Because Shih is not an employee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, he's not allowed in the death chamber, according to Courthouse News Service.

Murphy alleges his First Amendment right to freedom of religion is being violated, though a federal district and circuit court would not grant him a stay. Murphy has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but admitted to CBS DFW that he's unlikely to be get a favorable ruling there either.

The case draws some parallels to that of Dominique Ray, an Alabama death row inmate who wanted access to an imam before he was executed. As Reason's C.J. Ciaramella reported, the Supreme Court said last month that the execution could move forward because Ray waited too long to file his petition for relief.

Murphy's fate illustrates some of the problems with the death penalty. I've previously argued that the state should not be in the business of killing its own citizens, even mass murderers. "The death penalty is uncivilized in theory and unfair and inequitable in practice," the ACLU rightly says. "Well-publicized problems with the death penalty process—wrongful convictions, arbitrary application, and high costs—have convinced many libertarians that capital punishment is just one more failed government program that should be scrapped," Ben Jones adds at Libertarianism.org.

If the death penalty isn't appropriate for mass murderers, then it's certainly not a suitable punishment for people like Murphy, who, while a criminal, was not directly responsible for a death.

"I don't think sentencing and culpability about law of parties is about justice," he told CBS DFW. "I think it's about vengeance."

UPDATE (10 p.m.): The Supreme Court blocked Murphy's execution tonight on the grounds that the Buddhist priest was not permitted to be with him. In an opinion written by Justice Brett Kavanuagh, the Constitution prohibits such denomination-based discrimination. Read more here.

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166 responses to “This Man Didn't Kill Anyone. Texas Plans To Execute Him Tonight Anyway. (UPDATE: Supreme Court Blocks Execution)

  1. who neither fired a shot at Officer Hawkins nor had any reason to know others would do so

    Participant in robbery with armed individuals had no reason to know or believe that his armed accomplices would take shots at people? Especially when he specifically warned them of an approaching police officer?

    Don’t you think that’s stretching the bounds of belief?

    1. If a cop kills a innocent bystander, should his partner be held liable?

      1. Possibly. And either way those are not equivalent situations.

        1. No, especially because a cop does not “kill a[n] innocent bystander.” A ‘situation leads a Law Enforcement Officer to discharge His service weapon, and subsequently a bystander is struck.’ Completely different.

      2. It depends. If his partner had no idea the cop was going planning on doing anything wrong, and the cop just went off, then no. But if the partner knew the first cop was psycho, and lied on applications for search warrants, and went ahead with him anyway and someone got killed, then yes.

      3. No, he should take the first cop into custody. But who are we kidding?

      4. I can imagine cases where I’d say “yes”.

        Deliberate rough-rides, no-knock raids that result in death, other tactics and strategies that cops use that are known to have a significant risk of “unwarranted murder”.

        But this sort of “communal guilt” is, I think, a case where mens rea matters.

        That said, I think original intent goes out the window if/when the cop’s partner(s) lie and cover-up for him. They may not have been original participants of his guilt, but they chose to share in it.

        1. To my mind, that’s perjury, or as I one called it, “authoritative obstruction”, where someone in a position of authority intentionally obstructs redress. If you lie about a product your are selling, or try to frame someone for murder, that is perjury in my book.

          The proper punishment for such perjury is whatever punishment could have resulted if your perjury had been successful. Prove someone tried to frame a murder, punished as if you had done the murder. Coverup a fellow cop’s murder, you are punished for murder.

          1. In the law its called ‘accessory after the fact’ (IIRC). Where you were not involved in the crime but you provide assistance to cover it up.

      5. If a cop *murders* someone – yes. But there’s ‘murder’ and there’s ‘negligent’ and there’s ‘genuine unavoidable accident’.

        1. That distinction would matter a lot more if “genuine unavoidable accident” wasn’t invoked when shooting someone in the back.

      6. Was the second cop otherwise committing a felony at the time?

      7. Who’s kidding whom? The cop would never be charged and the prosecutor will blame the victim for spoiling the cop’s shot. He’ll probably turbn around and sue the victim’s family for obstruction.

        1. Bill the family for the wasted bullet.

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      9. Yes — if the partner conspired with the shooting cop to illegally create the situation which directly caused the innocent bystander to be killed.

        No — if the partner didn’t conspire with the shooting cop to illegally create the situation which directly caused the innocent bystander to be killed or the situation was not illegal.

    2. In layman’s terms, it mean that if a group of people plan to commit a [no-knock raid], and someone is killed in the process, all of them are guilty of murder, so long as they could have reasonably anticipated the death occurring as a result of or in conjunction with the [no-knock raid].

      The inscription above the Supreme Court entrance reads “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW”. It does not read “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW (except for law enforcement and anyone else who needs a special exemption)”

      That being said, this particular case is not the hill to die on, when there are so many better cases (like Acevado’s boys).

      1. If the no-knock raid is legal (proper warrants; executed as specified in the warrants and in accordance with all laws and polices; and the warrants aren’t, to the officer’s knowledge, based on misinformation) then there would be no criminal charges for any officer — let alone one who didn’t pull the trigger.

        Even if the raid ends up having been in error that should not necessarily result in any criminal charges. If, for example, the building handyman had installed new “unit number signs” on apartment doors a week earlier and had screwed up and that resulted in the wrong apartment being entered, likely no criminal charges would be appropriate for anyone. Civil liability however might even extend to the handyman (a handyman should know that putting the wrong unit number on an apartment could have serious consequences in some cases).

    3. Just because you didn’t pull the trigger doesn’t mean you weren’t involved. If all of them were shooting, would you not allow execution because you don’t know who fired the fatal bullet?

      The man was in an almost comic-book level of criminal activity. A group of escaped felons who were in the middle of a spree of armed robberies. Their string of crimes killed a police officer. It doesn’t matter who pulled the trigger. He was armed with an AR-15 and would have used it if given the chance. All of them are guilty.

      This is a cynical attempt to side-step our legislative and judicial process and loophole-block the death penalty. As a rule, I don’t like it. However, to try and frame this as somehow being a miscarriage of justice is absurd.

      1. These sorts of strained-past-the-breaking-point arguments do nothing to further the aims of death penalty opponents. They only serve to make their position appear obviously unreasonable and unrealistic.

        A person, actively engaged in a felony crime, warns an armed accomplice of the approach of a potential threat. Said threat is then murdered.

        None of which, as a matter of fact, is disputed.

        If you are going to kill people for crimes how does this not qualify?

        1. No, no.
          According to his attorney; driving the getaway car and warning is accomplices was NOT participating in the robbery.
          You just can’t make this stuff up.

    4. I object to the death penalty due to the inability to correct a conviction error.

      But if we apply this same law to members of departments whose pigs murder people, I can hold off on my objection for a while.

      And his instructions were to initiate a firefight, so he certainly had intent. Just because someone else lights the crack pipe for you (as Marion Barry argued) doesn’t mean you’re not smoking crack.

      1. There’s an inability to correct conviction errors at all points. As the years drag by (and they do on death row as well) people lose enormous chunks of their lives. A chunk of money helps, but they can never get that time back. The criminal justice system isn’t very good at making society a better place. It’s for vengeance and punishment, to hurt people. So if we’re only talking about the degree of pain it seems fairly arbitrary at that point.

    5. Tearing the bounds of belief, more like.

    6. Indeed. Someone who wants to challenge the law of parties by pointing to injustices it creates would be better served by the Jeff Wood case. He was outside in a truck, and may not even have known the robber had a gun.
      https://tinyurl.com/TXTribuneJeffWood

      1. Here’s another one. The defendant was guilty of armed robbery and dangerous, beyond dispute.

        It’s a newspaper article but with a surprisingly good rundown of the law, its history, and the criticism of it.

        https://preview.tinyurl.com/kennethfoster

  2. This is pretty much the law in every state in the country.
    If someone gets killed in the commision of a crime, all parties involved in the crime are considered responsible for murder.
    Not sure what issue Reason is addressing. Was one of them an illegal immigrant, thus deserving of immediate pardon, release, and taxpayer-funded benefits?

    1. Nope, there are 7 states that have completely rejected the felony murder rule, Arkansas, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Vermont.

      1. Only 28 state allow felony murder charges for accomplices with no individual culpability.

      2. Sorry, but Michigan has not rejected the felony murder rule. I am a lawyer and have clients doing life without parole because another person, without the consent of the defendant, killed someone in the course of a larceny or robbery.

        1. I am a lawyer and have clients doing life without parole

          Note to self….do not retain this guy….

          1. Note to Weygand: the decks aren’t always evenly stacked.

    2. “If someone gets killed in the commision of a crime, all parties involved in the crime are considered responsible for murder.” But when the state wants to execute 5 men for 1 murder, it seems excessive to me.

  3. A. The government should not be murdering people by any means, whether dressed up in a biased legal system run and controlled by the government or not.

    B. This guy knowingly participated in a crime with a strong chance of someone dying. I have no sympathy for his plight.

    1. A: You are correct.

      But executions don’t “murder” anyone as that verb denotes an immoral or lawless killing. Executions are neither.

      B: I agree that felony murder rule is a good rule. I you commit a crime where someone could die, you are responsible for that death whether or not you directly pull the trigger.

      1. “But executions don’t “murder” anyone as that verb denotes an immoral or lawless killing. Executions are neither.”

        Oh, now, don’t be silly. You know intelligent people give more subtlety to these things.

        By your qualification the Holocaust was not murder since it had been authorised by legal means and carried out
        by legally appointed officials.

        The question is, are executions right? and right is a moral question. Don’t be afraid of it.

        1. Much of the Holocaust WAS illegal under German law. But that’s not relevant to anything.
          Because the Holocaust was bad, in ways that had nothing to do with the legality of it.

          Murder, on the other hand, is not genocide. It has a meaning, and when people misuse the word as a sorry emotional attempt to distract from weak arguments, it doesn’t help anyone’s position.

          1. And when people grant vast deference to the state for its actions for the sole reason that it’s the current occupying force, it enables state actors a flimsy justification for continuing apace.

  4. If you have a principled position against the death penalty, fine. We can disagree but still respect each other’s opinions.

    FFS, you are fucking full of shit if you are actually arguing that this guy represents a good argument against the death penalty.

    From the article itself:

    In mid-December 2000, Murphy and six other maximum-security inmates were able to steal weapons from the prison armory and drive off in a truck. They would go on to carry out two robberies, according to the Houston Chronicle.

    Their luck ran out on Christmas Eve, as they were in the midst of stealing guns and money from a sporting goods store. A concerned bystander called police, and Hawkins was the first officer to arrive on the scene. Murphy, from his post in front of the sporting goods store, warned his co-conspirators that Hawkins was coming. Hawkins went around to the back of the store and was shot 11 times.

    Murphy said in his written confession that his “purpose was to if pursued by the police I was to initiate a firefight with the AR-15.” So even though he didn’t pull the trigger, he was held criminally responsible for Hawkins’ death.

    1. Yeah, this guy’s execution is really not the hill to die on.

    2. Yep. this guy’s case is not the hill to die on.

      1. Well, I suspect someone is going to die on it.

        1. Most likely.

        2. Let’s hope so.

    3. I’ve turned against the death penalty because I don’t trust the government to enforce it equitably. However, if I were governor, I’d have no problems with letting this guy die.

      This is clearly a bad choice for poster child.

      1. Bramblespam: ” I don’t trust the government to enforce it equitably.”

        Yes, the DP is given disproportionately to people who have committed heinous crimes.

        When the govt starts executing people who were minding their own business, then it will be enforced equitably.

    4. If you can’t defend this case, I’m not sure what case you think possibly could represent a good argument against the death penalty.

      He did not pull the trigger. He was not there when the trigger was pulled. There is nothing he could have done to prevent the trigger from being pulled. Yes, he put himself in a position where he knew that a trigger might be pulled.

      So let’s consider an equivalent case with lower stakes. I know that there is a chance that you will kill someone while you are driving home from work tonight. Am I guilty of accessory to manslaughter just because I’m in the passenger seat with you? What if I give you the keys? Or I’m the valet who gets your car out of the lot for you? Even if you are obviously drunk, I am not liable for letting you drive (with some qualified exceptions under dram shop laws that apply to the people serving you the alcohol but not the people who later get your car).

      Granted, he’s a bad guy who deserves to be locked up. But we say we reserve the death penalty for the very worst crimes. How does this count as one of those “worst crimes” situations? Are you saying that we should continue to dilute the death penalty standard until we’re back to the medieval rules where the sentence for pretty much every crime was death? If not, on what principle do you propose that we should draw the line?

      1. “He was not there when the trigger was pulled.”

        Not only was he there, but he alerted the others to the officer’s presence. If he wasn’t there, the officer would have had a better chance of surviving.

        “There is nothing he could have done to prevent the trigger from being pulled.”

        You make it sound like he was some innocent bystander. He wasn’t. He was an active participant in a violent crime spree and directly contributed to the officer’s murder.

        I don’t like the death penalty, but I have no problem with this fucker getting exactly the same punishment as the ones who pulled the triggers.

        1. Conceded that he was in the general area and even participated in the other crimes that the gang was committing. But at least according to the reports I’ve seen, he was on the other side of the building at the time of the actual shooting. He was not in the immediate vicinity of the murder and could have done nothing to stop it.

          I’m not saying he was an innocent bystander. He committed a large number of other crimes for which he was and should have been convicted. He was, as you say, an active participant in a crime spree. The question, however, is whether he was an active participant in the “violent” part of your claim and whether he directly contributed to the officer’s murder. I submit, again based only on what I’ve seen so far, that his contribution to the murder was at best indirect. And I am unconvinced that indirect contribution should be enough to earn you the death penalty.

          1. Are you high?

            He warned his buddies to set-up an ambush for the cop he told them was coming their way. That’s being a spotter, not being involved.

          2. Are you high?

            He warned his buddies to set-up an ambush for the cop he told them was coming their way. That’s being a spotter, not being involved.

          3. This is a pretty active participant in my book.

            “Murphy, from his post in front of the sporting goods store, warned his co-conspirators that Hawkins was coming. Hawkins went around to the back of the store and was shot 11 times.”

            Fuck this guy. I have no problem with holding him just as responsible as the rest of his compatriots. And since my problems with the death penalty are mostly driven by concerns about factual mistakes, and since there doesn’t appear to be any possibility of that here, that it involves the death penalty doesn’t bother me a bit.

      2. At the risk of bordering on the ever-so-silly reductio ad Hitlerum, Hitler didn’t commit the Holocaust. He didn’t pull the trigger. He wasn’t even there for the killings.

        Does that sound like a good argument against the death penalty?

        (Not to mention your claims are incorrect)

        1. I like “reductio ad Hitlerum“. Never heard that before. Nevertheless, it is easily distinguishable. Hitler did not merely participate in the government that committed the Holocaust – he gave the orders. More, he was the head of government with the direct authority, power and knowledge to have stopped it. That makes his position and therefore his culpability very different from a low-level gang member assigned as the getaway driver.

          1. Generally it’s referred to as a “Godwin”, in reference to “Godwin’s Law”.

            Reference.

            (If that link doesn’t work, just google “Godwin’s Law”)

  5. And WHAT THE FUCK does a religious conversion have to do with whether or not to carry out the sentence? I am so sick of people saying that he is a changed man. He converted to _________ (fill in the blank).

    That is between him and whatever deity or deities he believes in. Here in this world, he deserves to be executed.

    1. If the gods deem that I killed someone honorably and bravely, and yet was given the death penalty, that might get me into Valhalla. If they deem that it was murder, then it could get me one Hela’s worst punishments. But that shouldn’t matter here in this world.

      If your god(s) deems that you killed someone wrongfully, whether or not your are forgiven or rewarded is for the afterlife. Not this life.

    2. It doesn’t. That was a stay request pending permission for his chosen spiritual adviser to be in the room with him. The logic being that since the state would also a Christian priest to be in the room, it must also allow the spiritual advisers from other faiths.

      1. Fair enough about this particular issue. Though the author put this bit about his Buddhist advisor directly following the statement about asking the Governor for clemency, so it would seem that at least the author thought it was relevant to his request for clemency.

        1. To be charitable, I believe the author was just throwing everything out there hoping something would be persuasive.

          I don’t think it was successful.

    3. Amen Bear Amen. His religious conversation can help him in the next world. This world is a little more hard nosed about things and should be so.

      1. Um, in this case his religious conversation is looking for him to be coming back to this world.

    4. That’s even good theology. Accepting the punishment is a sign of repentance.

  6. Aside from the standard objections to the death penalty, what’s the issue here?

    1. Presumably that the death penalty should be reserved for direct murder, which is a common, if not particularly well reasoned assumption.

      1. I’m on board with that argument. I was ready to agree and be outraged here. Unfortunately, Seyton picks poor examples and offers bad arguments. Being a willing participant and conspirator in an armed crime that results in death makes one almost as responsible as whoever pulled the trigger. I am not sure if I agree with the death penalty, but I do think it should be part of the conversation

      2. Why?

        This guy was as responsible for the cop’s death as the guy who pulled the trigger.

  7. This dude had made plans with his team that if they encountered police, they would shoot at them. He further provided the warning necessary for the team to ambush the cop- again, knowing that the result of his warning was shooting at a cop.

    I’m not here to argue the merits of the death penalty, but given the planning and malice as well as his hand in providing his team key help in the ambush, I have no problem with him getting the same punishment as the trigger-person. For crying out loud, if a bunch of people conspired to kill someone, I’d expect them all to face murder charges, even if only one person physically pulled the trigger. Same as if some boss instructed an underling to kill someone.

    Nor was this a case of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or signing up for more than he bargained for. His team foresaw shooting at cops, and he helped that happen.

    1. +1000

      If the head of the crime family says “Vito shouldn’t be around anymore. I think it would be great if something happened to him.” Then his consigliore orders a hit, shouldn’t the boss be held responsible?

      1. Hey now, I’ve been assured that that’s just how New Yorkers speak, and it doesn’t mean anything malicious.

        1. “I only meant that it would be great if he won the lottery, then he could retire early!”

          1. Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest ?

      2. BearOdinson: “Then his consigliore orders a hit, shouldn’t the boss be held responsible?”

        No, of course not.

        The boss probably had few opportunities in society. He grew up in a violent atmosphere and suffered trauma. He fell off some swings when he was 8 and suffered brain damage. He felt excluded at school because of his ethnic heritage. He is well known to be kind to animals and small children. He was applying to college, planning to turn his life around.

        Indeed, the boss should not be on trial, SOCIETY should be on trial.

    2. Yep. It was a team effort that killed that cop. To argue otherwise is weak.

  8. He didn’t participate in the robbery- WAT??

  9. Murphy said in his written confession that his “purpose was to if pursued by the police I was to initiate a firefight with the AR-15.”

    Oops.

  10. The facts as described in the post sound like they were written as a hypothetical to illustrate the concept of felony murder in its purest, and least controversial form.

    He busts out of prison with his friends. They try to commit an armed robbery. He’s the lookout and warns them a cop is coming. One or more of his friends kill the cop.

    If the felony murder rule has any function, it’s serving that function here.

    1. “I didn’t want to shoot anyone, I just wanted them to comply with our demands for money out of fear of getting shot – how was I to know that sort of thing could get out of hand?”

    2. It doesn’t sound like a hypothetical from a law book. It sounds like Batman debating the wisdom of his no-killing rule in a mid-battle thought bubble. This is almost an absurdly clear cut situation in an unquestionably guilty individual.

  11. not a fan of felony murder rule or death penalty but I love living in Texas so I guess don’t break out of prison and be the lookout where a cop gets shot or Texas will dispense of you in its way

  12. Beyond my problems with the death penalty in general – I’m not sure I have any particular extra beef with this one.

    Dude was part of a group that robbed and murdered. Its not like he was rollin’ with his boy Binky and out of nowhere Binky shot that clerk and emptied the register. He’s hanging with violent criminals and participated in multiple robberies before this point.

    Unless he could show that he couldn’t leave . . . he’s getting what he deserves.

    I mean, I don’t like the death penalty, but I don’t see how ‘felony murder’ laws are ‘unfair’.

  13. “It is unconscionable that Patrick Murphy may be executed for a murder he did not commit that resulted from a robbery in which he did not participate,” Murphy’s attorneys, David Dow and Jeff Newberry, said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

    Well, except for the whole ‘driving the car’ thing.

    1. And serving as the lookout.

      And telling his escaped-prisoner partners who were in the process of robbing a gun store that a cop was coming around back of the store.

      Add me to the list of people who don’t like the death penalty but don’t have a problem with felony-murder laws in situations like this.

  14. The death penalty serves no useful social function.

    1. It cuts down on recidivism, and reduces the costs of his care and feeding.

      1. No it doesn’t.

        1. Recidivism is effectively the same as life imprisonment.

        2. It can be 20 years before appeals are exhausted and the death penalty enacted.

        1. 1. Recidivism is effectively the same as life imprisonment.

          You did RTFA, right?

          2. It can be 20 years before appeals are exhausted and the death penalty enacted.

          This assumes appeal and the death penalty are one and the same. They aren’t. Also, both assume that a life in prison with endless appeals is somehow or universally better than no life at all.

          1. Most prisoners would say that a life in prison with endless appeals is better than no life at all. States without a death penalty have statistically lower murder rates than death penalty states. There is one good argument for a death penalty: vengeance. However, that argument assumes that you never kill the wrong guy, or that the few guys you kill by mistake have no right to life.

            1. Lester: ” States without a death penalty have statistically lower murder rates than death penalty states.”

              A very bad argument.

              States have the DP precisely because they have high crime rates.

              Lester: “There is one good argument for a death penalty: vengeance.”

              Horsecrap. If we wanted vengeance, we’d kill the murder’s loved ones, his wife, his kids, his dog.

              Executing a murder is justice, that is, giving people what they deserve.

              Justice is not the same as vengeance, although they overlap when vengeance is just.

              1. Horsecrap. If we wanted vengeance, we’d kill the murder’s loved ones, his wife, his kids, his dog.

                That’s not true. If you allow a victims family to witness an execution (I think they call it ‘closure’) there are all kinds of opportunities for them to see that as vengeance.

                Vengeance is not defined by the extreme extent that you described.

              2. States have the DP precisely because they have high crime rates.

                The death penalty has no correlation with crime rate. If that were the case then Illinois, CA, MI, NY, etc would still have the death penalty. These are all extremely high crime states.

            2. States without a death penalty have statistically lower murder rates than death penalty states.

              No they do not.

              Its fairly close but non-death penalty states edge out death penalty states in murders and non-negligent homicides per capita. Its close enough I think you could reasonably say that the death penalty has no effect on the crime rate.

            3. Prisoners escape. A prisoner that is executed will not escape. How many people have been murdered by escaped “life” prisoners? I can think of at least 3. Do we need some reform in the death penalty? Yes, we do. Should it be ended totally? No.

        2. 1. Recidivism is effectively the same as life imprisonment.

          Really? I believe the recidivism rate for corpses is a reliable 0.

          On the other hand, plenty people in prison commit crimes in them (crimes committed against guards, visitors, and fellow prisoners), or manage to get out of prison despite a life sentence (say, by escaping) and then committing crimes.

          Ah, but you said “effectively”, so you mean that sort of recidivism doesn’t count, because . . why?

          1. And the recidivism rate for a dude in between sentencing and an execution that can be a decade or more away?

            1. It’s not the death penalty that imposes such costs; it is opposition to the death penalty that does that.

              We could reduce the number of crimes committed by murders after conviction, save money for the Federal Government, and lower both prisoner housing costs and litigation costs for the states all through one single change — applying the the same standards for Federal funding of appeals in cases of life sentences to those for appeals of death sentences.

              Right now, we the people fund all legal fees in appeals of a death sentence, however ridiculous, while people with any other sentence length need to show evidence there was a miscarriage of justice to get such funding. And that policy, not the death penalty itself, is the cause of the ridiculous dysfunction in the administration of the death penalty. Eliminate the entitlement to the subsidy, eliminate the dysfunction.

        3. “1. Recidivism is effectively the same as life imprisonment.”

          Insofar as ‘recidivism’ effectively ignores crimes committed while still in custody.

          Life in prison subjects many other people to close contact with a very horrible, and known dangerous individual. It is not without it’s own set of problems.

          1. Insofar as ‘recidivism’ effectively ignores crimes committed while still in custody.

            You mean, like this one? This actual guy was sent to prison to keep him from doing exactly what he did. It didn’t work.
            This time, let’s send him to Hell, see if that works.

      2. Only on a case-by-case basis. When you look at the population as a whole it has no statistically significant effect.

        1. That is not true.

          Good econometric studies find a very large deterrent effect of the DP, in which each execution saves as many as 20+ lives.

    2. The death penalty serves no useful social function.

      It serves a mechanical one. At one point it served a fiscal one.

    3. So you and the death penalty clearly have something in common.

  15. Murphy’s fate illustrates some of the problems with the death penalty.

    Uh, no. No it doesn’t. It could certainly be illustrating some problems with the ‘felony murder’ rule but it actually has nothing to say at all about the death penalty in general.

  16. Lmao. I oppose the death penalty but fuck this guy. He is not the reason I oppose it.

  17. “It is unconscionable that Patrick Murphy may be executed for a murder he did not commit that resulted from a robbery in which he did not participate,” Murphy’s attorneys, David Dow and Jeff Newberry, said in a statement

    So he was the getaway driver who warned his accomplices that a cop was there, but he wasn’t involved in the robbery?

    This is a strong argument, made by the defense lawyer, that he is guilty of the murder.

  18. I am rather confused at the notion that acting as getaway driver and lookout that warned the group in the store the cop was coming was not participating in the robbery. His lawyer seems particularly shameless.

    1. He was just an escaped felony convict acting as the wheelman/lookout in a string of violent armed robberies who innocently tipped off his accomplices that they better be ready to ambush a cop. How was he to know they might shoot the policeman?

  19. “Murphy said in his written confession ”

    He’d be in good shape if he just followed the rule of NEVER EVER talk the police

    Clarification: not commenting on his guilt or if he deserves it.

  20. it’s obvious to any rational person that there is indeed a difference between pulling the trigger and being involved in the incident where someone else pulled the trigger.

    yeah, it’s a crime to rob a store but if your off-the-hook companion goes off the rails and shoots someone when you had no intention of committing violence during the crime, … well it’s obvious that one is more culpable than the other. one is more EVIL than the other. They should not be punished in the same manner.

    1. He was the lookout who had stated intentions to fire at police if they were followed. “no intention of committing violence” doesn’t apply.

    2. But you can only execute someone once. Are you suggesting that the person who actually pulled the trigger should be tortured first?

  21. “”Well-publicized problems with the death penalty process?wrongful convictions, arbitrary application, and high costs?”

    Sorry but the wrongful convictions is far and the away the biggest reason of the three.

    And he doesn’t even mention the actual best reason not to have a death penalty: You don’t really have control over WHAT the penalty is applied for. All kinds of stupid bullshit can end up getting you killed by the government and you have no recourse once you’re dead. If you’re in prison for life you can at least get clemency later or laws can be changed. I’m looking at you Bill Clinton for signing into law the death penalty for drug traffickers who crossed a volume threshold….

  22. It’s similar to DUI vs. manslaughter.

    If you drive drunk, you’re taking a risk and you KNOW that you can possibly kill someone. But a DUI is not manslaughter and you don’t get convicted of manslaughter when you get caught driving drunk. You ONLY get convicted of manslaughter if you actually kill someone while driving drunk.

    This is very similar and a travesty. It flies in the face of all common sense about justice and culpability. Where is the criminal intent? This law specifically removes criminal intent from the equation when determining you committed murder.

    Quite simply, the man did not commit murder. Period. He’s not a good man and certainly deserves prison but by all rational definitions he is NOT a murderer.

    1. And he only got convicted of murder because someone was actually murdered.

      If no one had been murdered, that is not what he would have been charged with.

      1. But he didn’t do it. Someone else did.

        1. He was responsible for the murder, he just didn’t pull the trigger.

          I make the money for my family, my wife does the shopping and cooks the food. Does she feed our kids or do I? Both of us do.

        2. He told people he knew were dangerous criminals with guns whom he knew were dangerous criminals with guns where the cop was while the cop was catching them during a crime.

          This is the least sympathy-inducing complaint about the felony murder rule I’ve ever heard.

          1. I wish I could edit that

        3. Yes, he very much did it.

          It was a team effort. They had a plan, he was part of that plan (lookout), and he followed his part of the plan (warning about the approaching cop.)

          Noting that he ‘didn’t pull the trigger’ is as silly as noting that the guy who did pull the trigger didn’t put the primer in the round that happened to be in the chamber when the firing pin dropped.

    2. Where is the criminal intent?

      Lol. Read the article. Or at least the comments.

      1. The criminal intent to commit murder.

        1. He specifically confessed that his entire group planned to shoot at officers if they approached. He then warned his team, knowing that this warning would end with the cop being shot at. This isn’t a case where someone happened to be hanging out with people when things got out of control. They planned for this contingency, did what they intended and he *helped* them do that.

  23. This is firmly in the “play stupid games, win stupid prizes” category. Don’t want to die? Then don’t be a getaway driver for violent escaped felons who carry loaded weapons, rob gun stores and shoot people. Bad life choices = shortened lifespan.

  24. The driver is considered just as guilty as the shooter, because he is.

  25. Life in prison is more cruel than a painless execution.

    1. That could certainly be argued, but execution rules out any possibility of a pardon for new evidence or miscarriage of justice.

      No doubt there’s a list somewhere of those sentenced to death who have had their sentences reduced or convictions quashed due to such.

    2. The jury is still out (please forgive the pun) on the ‘painless’ part there.

      1. Mainly because death penalty opponents go out of their way to make reliable procedures, and obtaining necessary components difficult.

        1. Yeah, it’s pretty disingenuous. That’s why I’m not usually a big fan of death penalty defense attorneys. Unless of course, it’s a circumstantial case and actual guilt is in question.

          No one should ever be executed if guilt is not a certainty.

    3. If that is so, why do they keep appealing their death sentences?

    4. And it costs us all a ton of money. Shoot him and throw him in a ditch to be eaten by vermin.

  26. Let justice be done, execute this sociopath.

  27. Society has no more use for people like this. Get rid of him.

  28. The guy’s argument is picking fly shit out of pepper. Punch his ticket.

  29. Give him the needle. He more than deserves it.

  30. “The death penalty is uncivilized in theory and unfair and inequitable in practice”

    The death penalty is the only civilized penalty for murder. It is only the practical complications ? eg the risk of executing the wrong person ? which may sometimes require us to pause and adopt the barbarous alternative of allowing a murderer to live.

    I happened to be flipping channels this evening and came across one of those crime shows. They were doing the abduction and murder of Polly Klaas. Yeah, the murderer is still with us, more than 25 years after he killed her.

    “Well-publicized problems with the death penalty process?wrongful convictions, arbitrary application, and high costs?have convinced many libertarians that capital punishment is just one more failed government program that should be scrapped,”

    The death penalty is much cheaper than life imprisonment. It is only made more expensive by extra, wholly unnecessary, costs loaded on to it by its opponents. It’s like putting a 500% tariff on foreign car imports and then pointing to how expensive foreign cars are in comparison with US ones. Citing the “high costs” of the death penalty is a sure fire credibility shredder. Don’t mention it if you want to be taken seriously.

  31. I don’t believe Himmler killed anyone either. Wanna run the argument that he wasn’t a murderer ?

    1. Why would you bring that into the discussion?

      1. To point out the obvious absurdity of the article’s line that if you don’t actually hold the gun or the knife, you can’t be a murderer.

        But you knew that anyway, and were just trying to avoid anwering it.

  32. “UPDATE (10 p.m.): The Supreme Court blocked Murphy’s execution tonight on the grounds that the Buddhist priest was not permitted to be with him. In an opinion written by Justice Brett Kavanuagh, the Constitution prohibits such demonination-based discrimination. Read more here.”

    And here’s a link to the order itself:

    https://bit.ly/2FIZi6r

    Kavanaugh’s opinion was an individual concurrence, not an opinion of the Court.

    1. “The State may not carry out Murphy’s execution pending the timely filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari unless the State permits Murphy’s Buddhist spiritual advisor or another Buddhist reverend of the State’s choosing to accompany Murphy in the execution chamber during the execution.”

      Well, not being a prison administrator in Texas I can’t say how quickly they’ll be able to comply with this, but on the surface it sounds like something they can manage without unduly postponing Murphy’s appointment with death.

    2. Ok, so get his cleric in there and get ‘er done.

      1. My prediction is that Texas will cease to have any spiritual advisors, negating this claim with any future cases.

        1. And it would be a good move.

  33. I feel like an accessory to murder for allowing my country to perpetrate a crime like this. These people who sign off on these executions should consider they may be going to Hell for it.

  34. If you’re trying to argue against the death penalty pick a better poster boy. Like where the condemned may have been wrongfully convicted or someone who likely would have been convicted of a less than a capital charge with competent legal representation.

    This asshole is a better choice if you were arguing in favor of lynching or summary execution w/o trial.

  35. So if a gang of Texas cops break in a door and shoot a dog and two old people with no knock and for no reason, ALL those cops get tried for Murder One?

    1. Yes, they should all be charged with Murder One. But in the case of a cop, I am more viscous. Any cop convicted of any crime should serve life in Gen Pop. Let them have a few days of eating various bodily fluids before they get shanked.

  36. I observe that the right-wing fundamentalist goobers at the Becket Fund filed an emergency amicus brief supporting Murphy’s right to have a Buddhist clergyperson in the execution chamber:

    https://bit.ly/2V8HAyF

  37. He only helped break the “actual” murderers out of prison, plan their crimes, drive them to the crimes, act as a lookout, and alert them of the approach of the police officer they murdered.

    He had absolutely *nothing* to do with the murders.

    You leave Murphy alone!

    #FreeTotallyInnocentMurphy

  38. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $30h ? $72h?how? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance? on something new? after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

    Heres what I’ve been doing? ,,,

    CLICK HERE?? http://www.AproCoin.Com

  39. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $30h ? $72h?how? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance? on something new? after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

    Heres what I’ve been doing? ,,,

    CLICK HERE?? http://www.TheproCoin.Com

  40. They were not stealing bread, they were stealing guns.
    Put the dog down.

  41. “In an opinion written by Justice Brett Kavanuagh, the Constitution prohibits such demonination-based discrimination.”

    Justice Kavanaugh is sure making it hard for Liberals to continue the hatestorm – not that they won’t.

  42. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.
    >>>>>>>>>> http://www.GeoSalary.com

  43. Joe:

    Murphy was part of a group of escaped convicts, who all agreed to rob a sporting goods store of more weapons, all knowing that an armed robbery means that the threat of death, to any who would oppose them, with Murphy being a driver and look out for that precise activity, which, predictably, may result in an officer’s death, which it did.

    Of course he is, rightly, guilty of capital murder.

  44. Sorry, I don’t buy it. That guy is a scumbag who has lived a life very dense with assaults on the rights of others. In a GOOD world he would have been gunned down long ago.

  45. A man is being executed despite not being the murderer? How the in the holy F does that happen???

    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_parties

      To invoke it, there has to be a conspiracy, and conspiracy law can permit people to be punished for the acts of the co-conspirators.

  46. The death penalty is premeditated homicide.

  47. A corrupt Cop was killed ? The State should give them all medals and put them back in prison to finish their sentences

  48. I, in general, oppose the death penalty in practice because of the possibility of executing an innocent and I distrust the government with that kind of power. Other than that, I support it in principle.

    I would only support a death sentence if there is specific intent to kill. While warning his accomplices of the approaching officer is evidence of indifference to the fact that there was a significant risk the officer would be killed or harmed, there is not enough evidence to establish beyond reasonable doubt that he specifically intended for the officer to die. (The accomplices could have hid, run, or used less lethal force after being alerted.)

    While I believe the defendant’s actions could be considered murder, in the absense of proof beyond reasonable doubt of specific attemp to kill, I’d oppose the death penalty in this case.

    1. specific intent not a?empt

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