Death Penalty

Georgia Intends to Execute This Man, Whether or Not He Pulled the Trigger

A DNA test might show that he didn't fire the shot that killed a clerk in 1994. But the law says he'd be guilty anyway.

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The State of Georgia plans to execute Ray Jefferson Cromartie, 52, at the end of the month. DNA evidence might prove that another man pulled the trigger, but the authorities have refused to do the tests to find out.

That's because Cromartie participated in the robbery that led to a man's death, making him a party to the crime. Under State Code 16-2-20, Georgia still considers him responsible for the murder, even if he didn't actually fire the shot.

Cromartie was convicted of the 1994 death of store clerk Richard Slysz in Thomasville. Cromartie and another man, Corey Clark, encountered Slysz when they robbed a Junior Food Store. During the robbery, Slysz was shot twice in the head, once under his right eye and once in his left temple. After Slysz was shot, Cromartie and Clark attempted to rob the cash register. When they couldn't access the money, they stole beer.

Clark testified for the state, saying that Cromartie fired the fatal shots that evening. Cromartie maintains that he was not the shooter.

Cromartie was also convicted of shooting a store clerk a few days prior. The attorney general's office wrote in a statement that the security camera's video was "too indistinct to conclusively identify Cromartie" but "captured a man fitting Cromartie's general description."

Cromartie's lawyers have asked for the evidence in both cases to be DNA tested. But last month Superior Court Judge Frank Horkan, who sentenced Cromartie to death in 1997, denied their motion for DNA tests and a new trial. Horkan argued that the "proposed DNA results would not create a reasonable probability of an acquittal or of different verdict(s) in light of evidence in the case."

Horkan also declared that Cromartie had plenty of time during his years on death row to request the tests, accusing him of waiting "until all other avenues were closed."

Shawn Nolan, Cromartie's lawyer, still wants the tests. "Forensic DNA testing is essential to the pursuit of the truth and justice and to prevent the potential execution of an innocent man," he told the Times-Enterprise. "The state has the evidence in its possession; all we need to do is test it. We will appeal to other decision-makers to continue to seek DNA testing in order to get these vital questions answered before it's too late."

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  1. Felony murder. It’s a tale as old as time.

    1. Felony murder, indeed. One would think that Ms. Davis would have at least looked into the legal aspects of this doctrine before citing to it dismissively as some bizarre aberration in the law.

    2. Reason covered the problems with current felony murder rules back in 2016. Look it up. As for me, I haven’t thought about this interesting issue before, but there do appear some problems with it from a libertarian perspective. However, it certainly is a very old principle in common law. If anyone has written an analysis of this, it would be Walter Bloch. Is anyone aware of any analysis like that?

      1. What are the problems from a libertarian perspective?

        1. If there was no intent to kill, it is not murder. You could argue for manslaughter, but not murder.

          1. Well, it can still be murder, but it’s not pre-meditated, first-degree, “OMG he’s a psychopath” type of murder.

            It is starting down the slippery slope of applying the death penalty to cases where it doesn’t belong, not because the criminals in question are particularly dangerous, but because the public demands “retribution”.

          2. Two gunshots to the head seems like intent to kill.

          3. So, shooting into a crowd of people is OK as long as you didn’t intend to kill?
            Sorry, a per-meditated act that puts others in mortal danger and ultimately results in a death is the very definition of murder. If he didn’t pull the trigger, he should have picked a partner that wouldn’t pull the trigger either.
            The only innocent here is Slysz.
            Now if you want to argue for the abolishment of the death penalty, I’m with you.

          4. He shot the victim in the head, twice, to tickle him.

            As Comey would say, “no criminal intent”.

      2. Felony murder is a doctine that’s been around for a long time.

        Part of the reason it doesn’t matter WHO pulled the trigger is because part of the rationale is, “The crime wouldn’t have happened if all the players hadn’t been on board.” In other words, when you sign up to jointly do the crime, you also signed up to jointly do the time – or the death penalty as the case may be.

        No sympathy for this guy at all. Give him the needle.

        1. A real case:
          Guy loans his friend his car. Friend drives to his ex-girlfriend’s house and beats her to death. The car owner is charged with felony murder.

          Just or unjust?

          1. How was “loaning a friend a car” an underlying felony? Did he loan him the car with the knowledge that the friend intended to go beat up his girlfriend? That’s a little different than “you need to borrow my ride? Sure here are the keys.”

          2. I agree but a better example would be if two individuals agree to steal a vehicle just to go joyriding and the one driving the stolen vehicle caused an accident that resulted in the death of someone else. Should the passenger of the stolen vehicle face the same exact charges as the driver of the stolen vehicle who caused the accident? This is why I’m strongly against with how Accomplice Liability Laws are manipulated and misused throughout the legal system!

            1. I wouldn’t say its automatic. The act of stealing a vehicle is different than the act of driving around recklessly and killing someone. If someone is complacent in the 2nd act, then yes, same penalty (example, egging on the driver to drive faster – drive it like you stole it).

          3. Did the loaner know his buddy was gonna go to his ex-girlfriend’s house to beat her (kill her)? If not, I would say unjust.

        2. Under this felony murder law, you don’t get death just because someone died – you get death because the underlying act was a felony. Which means it is perfectly possible for whether someone is eligible for the death penalty to hinge on whether they attempted to steal $500 or $500.01. I can’t agree with that sort of law.

          Also, Georgia’s felony murder law requires that the person “causes the death”. Simply being there did not cause the death if someone else pulled the trigger. If you’re stretching the definition of “causes the death” that far, you could probably convict almost anyone close to a death with manslaughter if you felt like it.

    3. No shit. Reason is fcvkin stupid at times, this is the worst anti- Death Penalty argument imaginable.

      Gang robs local merchant, gang leader orders young ( under 17) member to execute victims. Youngster .will be punished if he doesn’t, may be suspected of being a snitch, may be killed himself.

      How does this absolve the Gang leader?

      1. In those circumstances, the gang leader would be guilty of flat-out murder, not felony murder. Georgia code § 16-2-20(4) says anyone who “Intentionally advises, encourages, hires, counsels, or procures another to commit the crime” is a party to the crime. He would not be “absolved” even if felony murder were abolished.

    4. So if the clerk had pulled out a gun and killed Mr. Cromartie and his cohorts, would anyone consider that that was not justified?

  2. He was a party to the crime, the state is following the laws, he got due process, fuck him.

  3. He was a party to a murder. Fuck him. This is one of those times when the death penalty is appropriate. Let criminals understand that if you get involved in something that includes pointing guns at people, you are going to be held accountable if someone ends up dead. I have zero sympathy for this guy.

    1. The death penalty does not deter murders, John.

      1. Neither does prison.

        1. The point of both the death penalty and prison is preventing future crimes.

          1. And, exacting retribution. A lot of people forget about retribution, which many would argue is a legitimate basis upon which to execute a criminal involved in a murder.

            1. And, exacting retribution. A lot of people forget about retribution, which many would argue is a legitimate basis upon which to execute a criminal involved in a murder.

              No, dude. Just no.

            2. And trying to justify the death penalty as a form of retribution is EXACTLY WHY it ought to be abolished.

              You REALLY think the state should be the agent of revenge? Think carefully about that one.

              1. Okay. Who should be the agent of revenge, then, if not the state? Some angry dude in his garage? A grieving mother? A widower? Why stop at the death penalty? Why should the state be the agent of any criminal punishment?

                Think carefully.

                1. Who should be the agent of revenge, then, if not the state?

                  No one.

                  Why should the state be the agent of any criminal punishment?

                  There are plenty of anarchists who would argue that perhaps it shouldn’t be.

                  But even still, it is a long stretch from “the state should execute individuals who did not intend to kill” to “the state shouldn’t punish anyone at all”.

                  1. I do not see the stretch. If the argument is, broadly speaking, that the state, by virtue of being the state, cannot be trusted to mete out the penalty of death, why should the state be trusted to subject an individual to any punishment? What gives the state the right to place an individual in a jail cell for life, or for any period of time? What gives the state the right to subject a person to the criminal process, in the first place?

                    Now, you can plausibly (and, even persuasively) argue that the death penalty presents particular procedural difficulties such that it should not be a form of punishment, but that argument cannot logically begin with the premise that the state is, a priori, without the right to dispense punishment.

                    1. NO ONE can be trusted to mete out a penalty of death, because every human system of justice is flawed and results in mistakes, which – in the case of the death penalty – are irreversible and cannot be compensated for if discovered. Even saints and nuns make mistakes, let alone judges and jurors and DAs.

                      The idea for the state having the power to incarcerate people is a pragmatic one – if we don’t, then we will have vigilantes everywhere dispensing “cowboy justice” which will be arbitrary and unjust. The minute that you or others start arguing that the state should use the justice system not to create an orderly and (mostly) fair judicial system, but instead to act as an agent of revenge, then it undercuts the entire rationale for having the state be in charge of incarceration in the first place. Why NOT have cowboy justice and vigilante mobs?

                  2. //NO ONE can be trusted to mete out a penalty of death, because every human system of justice is flawed and results in mistakes, which – in the case of the death penalty – are irreversible and cannot be compensated for if discovered. Even saints and nuns make mistakes, let alone judges and jurors and DAs.

                    The idea for the state having the power to incarcerate people is a pragmatic one – if we don’t, then we will have vigilantes everywhere dispensing “cowboy justice” which will be arbitrary and unjust. The minute that you or others start arguing that the state should use the justice system not to create an orderly and (mostly) fair judicial system, but instead to act as an agent of revenge, then it undercuts the entire rationale for having the state be in charge of incarceration in the first place. Why NOT have cowboy justice and vigilante mobs?//

                    You are answering your own question. The state metes out punishment so that individuals will not have to. Now, unless you are prepared to argue that revenge doesn’t exist, and the desire for revenge doesn’t exist, and that individuals in all cases warranting the death penalty be satiated by something less, and that there is no such thing as a criminal too dangerous to be free after serving their time, then feel free to institute you ideal system of justice.

                    Until that point, it is an idealistic fantasy that ignores the reality of how people behave, and the reality of their desires.

                    1. If your theory of the justice system is that it should simply be a reflection of what (you perceive) “society” wants to have done to the convicted criminals, then don’t call it a “justice system”, call it a “vengeance system”. Because what you want is vigilante justice dressed up in black robes and expensive suits.

                      I don’t give a fuck if individuals “wanting vengeance” aren’t satiated by the lack of a death penalty.

                2. The core justification for limiting prosecution to the State is to take the place of revenge justice.

                  State murder is NEVER justified.

                  1. I know, right? Otherwise, we’re living in Running Man.

                  2. Or, as many argue, to dispense vengeance in a controlled manner such that the act of revenge reflects the collective judgment of society that the death being imposed is justified and, as a consequence of that judgment, puts the matter to rest and does not spawn a never-ending cycle of retribution.

                    Concluding that state murder is “never” justified, without explanation, is unhelpful.

                    1. Or, as many argue, to dispense vengeance in a controlled manner such that the act of revenge reflects the collective judgment of society that the death being imposed is justified and, as a consequence of that judgment, puts the matter to rest and does not spawn a never-ending cycle of retribution.

                      Someone knows his Rene Girard!

                      I agree with the point that several have raised that the death penalty presents a knowledge problem – I don’t trust the state to be good enough at fact finding to authorize them to do something so permanent as killing (or maiming, but non-maiming corporal punishment would arguably be more humane than prison).

                      But there is also the pragmatic issue of satisfying blood lust that we may not approve of but cannot ignore. If any entity has a “right” to dole out a death sentence, it’s the State. But there are other reasons to argue that the State still shouldn’t.

                    2. Maiming as in cutting off the hand of a thief was done because there were no prisons in ancient times.

                      One interesting thing is that while there were a lot of things in the Bible constituting death penalty in practice that changed over time as courts were established. In Jewish law the highest court was the Sanhedrin. They instituted procedural rules to the extent that a conviction could rarely, if ever be obtained. Don’t feel like looking it up now but the quote is from the Talmud is “a court that carries out a death penalty once in 70 years is considered a murderous court”

                3. Just because you kill someone because they killed another only equates to revenge in the eyes of some people. It doesn’t solve anything. Also, the people who advocate for the death penalty when they lose a loved one are known to regret it. That’s why some start a correspondence with the killer. They feel guilty and they realize it doesn’t solve the problem. The second that person dies nothing changes. It’s all the same as it was before he was executed.
                  I don’t know what to do with the killer, but I don’t think killing them does anything other than stating “So there. We killed you too”.

                  1. //I don’t know what to do with the killer, but I don’t think killing them does anything other than stating “So there. We killed you too”.//

                    And that is enough for some.

                    How does life imprisonment “solve” anything? The victim is dead; why hold the murderer in a cage? What does it achieve? It won’t bring them back. And, while we are on the subject, how do any criminal prohibitions and punishments “solve” anything?

                    “What’s the point?” is not a helpful question or metric, and it doesn’t get us closer to any answers. However, libertarians seem very keen on entertaining these kinds of nihilistic considerations. Dragging things into metaphysical absurdity is not helpful.

                    1. “The victim is dead; why hold the murderer in a cage? What does it achieve?”

                      So they can be reminded of what they did each day when they wake up. Seems more humane than killing someone.

                      Also, if you want infamy and want to die and are too chickenshit to do it the death penalty, especially an expedited one, tells someone that if they gun down 10 people the government will do it for you in a quick and painless manner. (Or so they say) Depending on the perspective of the killer it can be an incentive. It can serve as a reward.
                      Dying alone after many years in a cell is less preferable to people.

                      I just like the idea of making our goal as humans to kill less people.

              2. I think I should be the agent of my own revenge, but the state interferes with that. Like when one of your illegal friends brutally rapes an American child.

                https://www.foxnews.com/us/previously-deported-illegal-immigrant-who-raped-child-after-philadelphia-release-pleads-guilty-to-reentry

            3. Nope.

            4. State murder is never appropriate.

              1. State murder is appropriate. State murder is never appropriate. These are not arguments, they are conclusions.

                1. The Non-Aggression Principle is a conclusion too. What point are you trying to hide?

                  1. The point I’m making is that you are just repeating conclusory statements without any discussion of the facts underlying your conclusions. Repeating something endlessly is not helpful.

            5. Retribution? I prefer calling it expressing society’s revulsion at the heinousness of certain acts.

      2. But execution precludes recidivism.

      3. The death penalty does not deter murders, John.

        No. It kills murderers. Which is what it’s for.

        We don’t need murderers.

        1. It kills plenty of framed non-murderers too, and then conveniently sweeps it under the rug.

          1. Wow–all your cites vanished.

          2. How many is ‘plenty’? And how often does that occur since DNA testing became widely available?

      4. The fcvk it doesnt

      5. It certainly deters the murderer who gets executed.

    2. One does not need to feel sympathy to be opposed to some law. Presumably you don’t feel any sympathy for people that cheat old ladies out of their retirement savings, but does that mean they should be put to death?

      1. Yeah, I wouldn’t speak in terms of sympathy – the ideal judge would have a broad human sympathy which took in everyone involved, criminals and victims both. But that doesn’t answer the question of what sentence justice and the law require in a given case.

      2. That’s not even a strawman, Chipper.

        There are two questions here. “Do you support the death penalty” and “do you support the existence of felony murder”. This article is attempting to argue the first question by talking about the second.

        If you want to argue the death penalty, fine. I can agree that it is pointless and ineffective (though I cannot agree that it is immoral). However, don’t try and do it through a bait-and-switch about felony murder.

    3. Execution by a State is never appropriate.

  4. a faceless state killing someone for not killing someone but just being there is total bullshit.

    1. Amen.

    2. Except, that is not what happened.

      https://murderpedia.org/male.C/c/cromartie-ray-jefferson.htm

      Facts matter. And, felony murder is not punishment for “just being there,” but for actively participating in a felony and creating a situation during during which the use violent deadly force is likely to occur (broadly speaking, since the precise contours of the doctrine vary by jurisdiction).

      1. The intent of the criminal in this case was not to purposefully go kill someone. It was to knock over a liquor store. That is a crime, and should be treated as a crime, but it should be treated as the crime that it *actually is*, and not as something else.

        1. Again, facts matter. Cromartie was found to have been the actual shooter.

          The purpose of felony murder is to deter people from doing things like:

          “Hey, I have a gun; let’s go rob that liquor store and you watch my back.”

          The doctrine of felony murder is intended to deter people from acting in concert to commit inherently violent crimes, or crimes where violence is likely.

          1. Cromartie was found to have been the actual shooter.

            Cromartie’s accomplices turned state’s witnesses. So I would not be too confident in that claim.

            The purpose of felony murder is to deter people from doing things like:

            “Hey, I have a gun; let’s go rob that liquor store and you watch my back.”

            Robbing a liquor store is already illegal.

            1. So what if robbing a liquor store is already illegal? It is more dangerous to rob a liquor store with backup. It is even more dangerous to rob a liquor store with armed backup. It is even more dangerous to rob a liquor store with armed backup waving a gun in the cashier’s face. At some point, the gun goes off and, unless you are incapable of differentiating between the severity of various forms of violent conduct, walking into a liquor store with armed friends is not the same thing as walking in alone with nothing but a mean look on your face and running off with a bottle of Jack Daniels.

              1. Hey, you’re right! Robbing a liquor store with a gun is more dangerous than robbing a liquor store without a gun! So *armed robbery* is a more serious crime than simple shoplifting. He is a thief. He should be punished as a thief. He is not a murderer. He didn’t kill anyone, his accomplice did.

                1. FFS you’re a soft headed idiot. Again, if there is any karmic justice in the world you will be raped to death by cartel thugs.

          2. Also, it looks like shooting the store clerk was an essential part of the plan. Thus, in this specific case, the felony murder rule is appropriate. I agree that in cases where one participant in the conspiracy kills a victim and where there is no evidence that the killing was an essential part of the plan, that the felony murder rule may not be appropriate.

          3. How does carrying a loaded gun to rob a store waive intent to kill-if-you-have-to?

            I was just gonna walk back out with my loaded gun if the shop owner said get lost. Then my jackass partner shot him!

        2. It looks like the plan was to kill the clerk during the course of the robbery. If so, then both men planned the killing during the course of the crime. The murder was intended so both men had the requisite intent.

          1. Cromartie’s accomplices turned state’s witnesses. I would be skeptical of their testimony here.

            1. Be skeptical all you want. He wasn’t just standing at the door smoking a cigarette.

        3. So a drunk driver that kills 4 should not be punished because he didn’t intend to kill anyone. He just wanted to get home, is that a crime?

          1. He should be punished, but NOT under the same statute as first-degree premeditated murder, because he didn’t set out to intentionally kill that family of four like some psychopath.

      2. You really should read the article you’re commenting on – the claim is that the guy was not the shooter. It might not make any difference in the conviction, it very likely would make a difference in the sentencing. This is where the court seems to me to have erred, to claim that whether the guy was the shooter or not makes no difference because either way he’s legally a murderer neglects to consider that whether he was the shooter or not would matter in the sentencing phase.

        1. The claim is there is new evidence that *may* contradict a prior finding that a defendant already found guilty of being the *actual shooter* was not the actual shooter. The counter argument is that it doesn’t matter because the felony murder statute warrants the death penalty even if he wasn’t the shooter. This has nothing to do with sentencing because he was *already sentenced* and, arguably, would have been sentenced just the same.

    3. Not quite total bullshit, the total part comes in when the state decides about 95% of felony murder convictions end up in life sentences and some random 5% wind up in executions. What was it about this particular case that made it so egregious or particularly heinous? Any chance it was the poor black guy doing the robbing and a white guy doing the dying in Thomasville, Georgia? (Thomasville is SW Georgia, the rural cotton plantation corner of the state. If not quite the land that time forgot, the land where time slowed to a crawl somewhere around 1940.)

      1. Or, could it be the fact that just a few days prior he was found to have shot another cashier in the neck during another robbery?

      2. You’re absolutely right, the injustice here is that the death penalty is discretionary rather than automatic. In the name of justice, we need to eliminate the discretion that lets too many murderers live. #HangThemALL

      3. this is entirely more well said than my in-general rant thank you.

    4. a faceless state killing someone for not killing someone but just being there is total bullshit.

      Jurors have faces. They decided that this murderer didn’t need to live.

      It’s not ‘trial by state’. It’s trial by jury.

      1. when the jury pulls the plug we’ll talk.

  5. I oppose the death penalty for the following reasons from my libertarian perspective.

    I do not trust the criminal justice system as administered by the government. In all crimes many of the innocent are found guilty and many of the guilty are set free. Police, prosecutors and forensics have been shown over and over to plant evidence, ignore exculpatory evidence, and bend the rules in order to get a conviction. Juries are imperfect and easily misled, often acting on emotional grounds.

    The power to execute is a dangerous tool to give government. It favors tyranny over liberty. History shows that it is frequently abused as a coercive tool to gain power over citizens. If murder is to be considered a capitol crime what about “ treason” and who defines what that is? What about drug smuggling or anything else.

    The consequentialist argument that it prevents murder is inherently flawed. There is no way to measure deterrence. It is impossible to know since murder rates are random and sporadic. Rates go up and down for a myriad of reasons and vary over time and by location. If the murder rate in Chicago went down it may be that the Crips and Bloods made a deal. Or because some potential murderers found it was cutting into drug profits, too many other factors to account for. For libertarians, who favor gun rights when those same flawed arguments are made to then support state administered executions is absurd.

    The law is not a machine. It is a set of rules subject to interpretation written and administered by flawed imperfect human beings acting in their own interest. To give the state power over life and death is both immoral and dangerous.

    1. My memory of the Illinois governor turning all death sentences into life without parole was that in one year, 12 death row prisons had been released because they had been framed, and 11 had been executed.

      The death penalty just makes it easier for corrupt law enforcement to hide their “mistakes”. That ought to be reason enough to oppose it.

    2. “There is no way to measure deterrence.”

      That’s just not true.

      https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/deterrence.pdf

      The stronger argument against the death penalty is that the prospect of misbehavior on the part of the state and, therefore, the likelihood of false convictions is too high to risk the imposition of a death penalty. But, make no mistake about it, the death penalty is a powerful deterrent. If double parking was punishable by death, I think you can be fairly certain that people would not double park.

      1. That is just theoretical bullshit.

        There is no way to scientifically measure deterrence.

        Say there were 100 murders in St. Louis last year. You institute a death penalty and there are 50 the following year. You cannot prove that the reduction is due to death penalty because you cannot control for confounding factors. It may have gone down for a myriad of other reasons. It may have been 200 without the death penalty. You have no way to know.

        Correlation is not causation.

      2. Then you throw in a straw man, double parking is in no comparable to murder. Slow down you are posting nonsense

        1. “It’s bullshit,” is not an argument. It’s dismissiveness masquerading as an argument. If you want to question methodologies and conclusions, feel free. If you want to write a paper in opposition, feel free. Otherwise, stop the childish theatrics. Your tantrum is not necessary.

          And, secondly, I was not comparing murder to double parking. I think you understand quite clearly that the point I was making is that the death penalty is a deterrent, whereas your point was that it the death penalty is not, and cannot be a deterrent.

          1. The article you linked to states at the outset that it is theory. It is not a statistical controlled study. It is worth no more than an opinion.

            I do not need to refute an assertion not backed by fact. It is up to the one who asserts a hypothesis to prove or disprove it. That is science 101.

            1. Let’s not lose sight of the premise at hand.

              “There is no way to measure deterrence.”

              That is your position.

              But, deterrence *can* be measured. There are many ways. Some are more conclusive than others. Some are not conclusive at all because of other confounding factors. But to state, categorically, that there is no way at all to even begin to measure deterrence is just not true.

              By way of example, I am deterred by criminal laws from doing a variety of things I may otherwise consider doing; for example, carrying an unlicensed firearm; or, engaging in insider trading; purchasing illicit drugs; selling counterfeit merchandise. There are many, many studies out there which you can research at your leisure. If deterrence is not real, and cannot be measured, then there is no need for criminal laws. I doubt you would agree with that.

              http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=7363&context=jclc

              And, just because something is a termed a “theory” doesn’t mean the theory is meaningless, or that it doesn’t have predictive value, or that it doesn’t accurately reflect the relationship between cause and effect.

      3. And yet another fallacy
        “ But, make no mistake about it, the death penalty is a powerful deterrent.”

        This is known as the Just Because fallacy. It is because I say so.

        So prove that the death penalty is a greater deterrent to murder than life in prison.

        1. If double parking was punishable by death, would you double park?

          1. I would not if it were punishable by a $10,000 fine or six months in jail either.

            1. If double parking was punishable by death, would you double park?

    3. The trouble, sir, is that your argument is exactly as valid as an argument demanding that the state not be allowed any police. After all, cops are known to make mistakes that result in the death of the innocent, the police also have often been used as a coercive tool for tyranny, and the consequentialist argument is just as inherently flawed because there’s no way to measure the deterrence caused by having police.

      Accordingly, if your argument as presented is valid, then the police must be abolished.

      1. For some reason, people opposed to the death penalty seem very averse to stating, plainly, that they oppose the death penalty because they think it is cruel and unnecessary. Instead, we are usually treated to a convoluted dissertation about how the state cannot be trusted to punish criminals with death (but, inexplicably, can be trusted with other punishments, including locking people in a cage for life), how threatening to kill people doesn’t deter them from doing things (despite the fact that people are, generally, scared to die and choose to preserve their life if threatened), or that revenge motives are, ipso facto, improper.

        It makes no sense when the simple “I don’t like it” would do just fine. I don’t like it either, but I definitely understand that it can, does, and will continue to work as a deterrent and, with care, can be dispensed properly.

      2. It is based on the premise which I did not think needed to be stated, that execution is distinct from imprisonment or a fine for running a stoplight. To me that is axiomatic. A prisoner has at least a chance of retrial if contradicting evidence or legal mistrial is proven which happens often.

        Why is execution reserved only for murder, and few of them at that, if killing was no different than any other crime?

        Fact is we know that the system is flawed. Killing someone with that knowledge in my understanding is both immoral and without proven consequential benefit.

        1. //A prisoner has at least a chance of retrial if contradicting evidence or legal mistrial is proven which happens often.//

          Fair enough. Let us assume (and this is not an unreasonable assumption) that the evidence is absolutely conclusive in a particular case. And, let us assume (also, not unreasonable) that as time goes on and technological advances accelerate, identifying a murderer using a combination of DNA evidence, facial recognition, video, and witness testimony results in a situation where there is no longer room for any reasonable doubt.

          What then?

          If we take the “error” argument out of death penalty cases, is it the death penalty then acceptable? Would you accept it in such a situation? Or, as a procedural safeguard, consider a convicted murderer provisionally sentenced to a life imprisonment but, if no contrary evidence emerges to undermine the conviction, the death penalty is then imposed.

          What then?

          If we remove error from the equation, and the execution of the innocent is no longer a risk, do you then agree with the death penalty? My sense, and I think I am right, is that you would still disagree with the death penalty.

          1. If the human justice system were run by angels, then the death penalty would be perfectly justified!

            That is seriously your argument?

          2. “And, let us assume (also, not unreasonable) that as time goes on and technological advances accelerate, identifying a murderer using a combination of DNA evidence, facial recognition, video, and witness testimony results in a situation where there is no longer room for any reasonable doubt.”

            But we’re already supposed to be sure beyond any reasonable doubt. That’s *literally* the standard for conviction. Yet errors still happen.

            My worry is that while we may think we’re going in the direction of incontrovertible evidence, we aren’t really. Physical evidence like DNA or fingerprints can be planted. Recordings can be altered. Anything digital can be hacked. Lab results can be faked or in error. Prosecutors can withhold exculpatory evidence. And of course witnesses can be mistaken or lying. Even a confession might be coerced.

            1. And we don’t even have to go to the “fraud” route to show that even with all of these high-tech methods, they alone cannot conclusively prove a person is guilty of a crime.

              For example, if a person’s DNA shows up on the clothes of a murder victim, that alone does not prove that the person was the killer – there are a million innocent reasons why that person’s DNA could be there, and improvement in DNA sequencing technology doesn’t change any of that.

      3. Just to add police are used for tyranny as is discussed here in articles on a daily basis. It is a big issue for libertarians. Some anarchists would abolish police altogether for that reason. Minarchists argue for very limited police powers. I fall into the minarchist camp and that is one reason to object to government executions of prisoners.

    4. I disagree with your conclusion, but you make a very persuasive argument.

    5. Echospinner….Great post. Awesome back and forth with Garaje. Really, it was a phenomenal exchange. A few quick points.

      One, I reject the premise that deterrence cannot be measured. We actually can measure the deterrent aftereffect. But I readily concede it cannot be precisely quantified.

      Two, I personally think we should have a deep (and healthy) skepticism of the government in general. Blind trust in anything from mankind is a recipe for disappointment.

      Three, the death penalty is a reflection of our collective societal judgement that there are a small subset of crimes so heinous and so depraved that committing them warrants death. Your earlier point regarding halakhic law was telling: Torah explicitly acknowledges there are crimes worthy of death. That is something that matters to me.

      Four, I reject the premise that giving the State power over life and death, in our Federal Republic guided by the Constitution, is inherently immoral or dangerous. Why? Because the ultimate levers of power remain in society’s hands. We can (and have for 200+ years) replace people we don’t like. It is slow and a PITA, but we do retain this power. We do not live in a despotic state. That context matters.

      Five (and last), regardless of whether this guy pulled the trigger, he is guilty under the law of felony murder. If the DNA evidence shows he did not actually pull the trigger….so what. Under Georgia law, he is still guilty, and the considered judgement of society is that felony murder deserves death.

      You make a very good (and persuasive) argument, regardless.

      1. collective societal judgement

        Fuck this “collective societal judgment”. If they want the state to execute murderers out of revenge, then they are wrong. Period.

        1. Chem, Chem, Chem….ALL of our laws are ultimately reflections of collective societal judgement. Yeah, I am all for individualism, but we presently live in society. We have to play by society’s rules. That is the real world.

          The people of Georgia made the collective judgement, codified in law, that felony murder will result in the death penalty. That is not an inherently immoral act.

          Ray Jefferson Cromartie is guilty of felony murder, period. It doesn’t matter if he was the trigger-puller or not. If the DNA test conclusively shows he did not pull the trigger, so what. It is irrelevant. He enabled, aided and facilitated the acts leading to the murder of Richard Slysz. From a moral perspective, Ray Jefferson Cromartie has blood on his hands. His actions also satisfy the criteria for felony murder in Georgia. He gets the needle.

          1. You have to remember, that at his core, Pedo Jeffy is a soft headed moron. He also holds little belief in the concept of accountability.

  6. If the argument for the death penalty is that there are some people so dangerous that they should be put to death, then how does that rationale apply to someone guilty of felony murder? The intent of the criminal in this case is to commit a felony that stopped short of pre-meditated murder (otherwise it wouldn’t be felony murder, but simple first-degree murder).

    1. Well said, Jeff.

    2. The rationale for felony murder is to deter *multiple* individuals (that is, accomplices) from participating and supporting each other in the commission of felonies during the course of which the use of deadly force is likely to occur. Arguably, individuals that are fine with the notion that their concerted conduct with others may result in the death of their victims have the same degree of culpability as the individual that actually committed the murder. It is not all that different, in principle, than the rationale for punishing an accomplice to a murder.

      1. The rationale for felony murder is to deter *multiple* individuals (that is, accomplices) from participating and supporting each other in the commission of felonies during the course of which the use of deadly force is likely to occur.

        Okay then – so punish the individuals for the felonies that they ACTUALLY COMMITTED.

        Cromartie robbed a convenience store. Punish him for that. It’s already illegal to rob a convenience store.

        IF he pulled the trigger, then he should be punished for murder.

        But if he DIDN’T pull the trigger then he didn’t murder anyone and should certainly not be sentenced to death as if he were some psychopathic murderer.

        1. But if he DIDN’T pull the trigger then he didn’t murder anyone and should certainly not be sentenced to death as if he were some psychopathic murderer.

          Are you arguing against the death penalty in this case, or arguing against ANY harsher penalty than pulling a couple of $20s from the till while the clerk bled out would normally apply?

          Because if it’s the former, cool. But if it’s the latter, I’m not sure about that.

          1. This guy should not get the same punishment as if he had pulled the trigger himself, because he didn’t do that.

          2. He should get the penalty for armed robbery, not for murder. I will not budge on that.

            “(b) A person convicted of the offense of armed robbery shall be punished by death or imprisonment for life or by imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 20 years.”

            Wait a minute…

        2. The point is to deter the creation of situations in which a murder is likely to occur, not to punish an individual accordingly for *their* lesser conduct. Deterring situation which may lead to murder is reasonably accomplished by punishing an individual for murder in the event a murder occurs. The logic behind it is not difficult to understand – without the presence of an accomplice(s) to a felony, it is less likely that an armed individual will barge into convenience store alone.

          Scenario 1:

          “Hmmm … if something goes wrong during this robbery that my friends and I are planning, and the cashier is killed, I’m fucked. I better not do this.”

          Scenario 2:

          “Hmmm … if something goes wrong during this robbery that my friends and I are planning, and the cashier is killed, I’m good. At worst, I’ll get a few years. No problem. I’ll take that chance.”

          Deterrence is the point of felony murder, not “the punishment must fit the crime,” which is actually a form of retributive punishment (which you claim in an improper motive).

          1. To my point above, I think it’s dubious to expect a sentence commensurate with “stealing a six pack of O’Dool’s” if:

            The plan is to have Person A lure the Clerk outside, whereupon Person B shoots the Clerk in the head, allowing the perpetrators to freely loot the store and the cash register. Upon Person A’s successful luring of the clerk, Person B Shoots clerk. Person A and B run into the store, whereupon they discover two customers still inside… spooked, they immediately exit the store. On the way out, person A grabs a six pack of O’Dool’s.

            Should the sentence for Person A only be a misdemeanor charge for the theft of a $6.98 pack of O’Dool’s?

            1. If the intent behind the luring was to kill the clerk, then it’s a straightforward case of accomplice liability. Felony murder disposes of that intent requirement, which may be difficult to prove. But the point is, whether you intended to kill the clerk or not, luring him outside into a situation where he could be murdered by an armed accomplice is worthy of deterrence even in the absence of intent. The point is to make people think long and hard about placing an innocent person in a scenario where they can be, or are likely to be, killed.

              1. I strongly doubt the deterrent factor. I suspect most crimes of this nature are done by people who are either mentally incapable of that kind of realization of the probable results of their actions, are desperate enough not to care, or are psychotic.

                1. That is what a trial is for. And deterrence cannot be measured by the number of people who go on to commit the prohibited crime, but should be measured by those that didn’t.

                  1. Hmmm. That says nothing about my position. People whom deterrence works on probably would be deterred by a life sentence, and people whom deterrence doesn’t work on wouldn’t be deterred by the threat of being tortured to death.

                    1. Why do we have to choose between methods of deterrence? A sentence of life imprisonment would probably be a stronger deterrent than a sentence of imprisonment for a term of five years. Let us assume that is the case. Would the greater deterrent effect of life imprisonment necessitate getting rid of five year terms? I don’t understand why those opposed to the death penalty always seem to fall into this balancing paradigm.

                      //People whom deterrence works on probably would be deterred by a life sentence, and people whom deterrence doesn’t work on wouldn’t be deterred by the threat of being tortured to death.//

                      This is just restating your original conclusion that the death penalty is not a deterrent, but with more words. Studies have shown that the death penalty is a deterrent. And, given that most people value their lives, it makes sense.

                      https://www.cbsnews.com/news/death-penalty-deters-murders-studies-say/

                    2. But you haven’t actually read the studies nor compared them with others which may contradict them.

                      There are studies claiming that red meat causes cancer and heart disease and others that refute that claim. For the same reason. There are too many confounding variables which cannot be controlled for. So you cannot arrive at conclusive proof either way.

                2. Or Just don’t care if they live or die. Anyone doing armed robbery must know that they could die or face life in prison. Gangsters who kill others or are just members of a gang that does may not be mentally ill or irrational they know they could be killed in revenge but choose that kind of life.

          2. So you want to deter armed robbery. You think people who commit armed robbery like to have an accomplice. So your solution is the death penalty (maybe) if the accomplice shoots someone.

            I’m sorry, but that’s overly convoluted and not going to deter anyone. The armed robbery itself is already inherently dangerous; you may be shot by the cashier, a bystander, the police, or even the accomplice. The risk that your accomplice shoots the guy *and* you get caught *and* you actually get sentenced to death is low compared to other risks, and really won’t factor in to the criminal’s decision to participate.

            And you get more than “a few years” for armed robbery in Georgia:

            “A person convicted of the offense of armed robbery shall be punished by death or imprisonment for life or by imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 20 years.”

        3. Goddamn Oedo Jeffy, so much soft headed bullshit from you. As if the person driving the getaway car at a robbery isn’t complicit in the robbery.

          The Pedo Jeffy argument is “Hey, I was just giving the, a ride. I didn’t rob anyone!”

  7. The real crime here is that Cromartie wasn’t executed back in 1994, preferably painfully and publically.

    RTFA, this was the seond clerk he shot in the head in a 3 day span. The other one lived

  8. Reason’s not talking about libertarianism’s intellectual standard bearer and his latest pronouncements:

    “”We’ve taken control of the oil in the Middle East, the oil that we’re talking about. The oil that everybody was worried about. We have, the U.S. has control of that,” he said.”

    Is his mighty intellect (smartest evar!1!) too awesome for Reason to share?

    1. Is his mighty intellect (smartest evar!1!) too awesome for Reason to share?

      Is there a reason you think Reason admires Trump?

      1. And are you ever going to provide links to Reasons “extensive” history of Holocaust denial like you promised?

  9. The headline is a liiiitle confusing in regards to the facts of the case. It makes it sound like a dutiful husband and father was sitting quietly in the Christian Science Reading room when all of a sudden, he was charged with a murder he didn’t commit!

    I’m not saying the DP is justified here on a meta, moral scale, but we should be arguing what the real injustice is here: that the law in its current form exists. It sounds like the state is merely following the law.

    In fact, it sounds like his lawyer is arguing that if we can prove he didn’t pull the trigger with a DNA test, then the court has made a procedural mistake which doesn’t appear to be the case.

    1. sitting quietly in the Christian Science Reading room

      Well, as an Anti-Vaxxer he deserved everything that was coming to him.

    2. //In fact, it sounds like his lawyer is arguing that if we can prove he didn’t pull the trigger with a DNA test, then the court has made a procedural mistake which doesn’t appear to be the case.//

      That is correct.

      The other strange aspect is …. why didn’t the attorneys call for a DNA test earlier? Did they just sit on this theory for over twenty years after his conviction? I’m fairly certain that DNA testing would have been just as reliable a year or two, or even five years ago, as it would be today. It appears to be a delay tactic.

      1. My guess is the lawyer tried every legitimate avenue for his client, and is now grasping at straws. Further, the lawyer knows that DNA tests are not a magic bullet where the ABSENCE of conclusive DNA can be spun into a presumption of innocence. I’m guessing 20 year old DNA sample from a chaotic crime scene would be ‘inconclusive’, creating the shred of doubt the lawyer is banking on.

        And fair enough. A lawyer is supposed to “jealously” defend his client. I was once told that a good pilot of a crashing aircraft is still “trying things” all the way into the ground. This feels like “trying things”.

        1. Unless we are talking about rape cases, DNA alone doesn’t prove much, if anything. Let’s posit that the DNA sample from the gun used in the murder shows multiple distinct originators. What does that demonstrate? At best, that multiple people handled the gun, and that Cromartie was not the only person to do so. So? Does the fact that multiple people handled the gun outweigh the testimony of eyewitness, the videotapes, and the fingerprints, which all point to Cromartie as the shooter? People forget that prosecutors carry a burden of proving facts beyond a *reasonable* doubt, not beyond any conceivable, hypothetical doubt that, in theory, could be entertained. DNA doesn’t, simply by virtue of being DNA, negate all other evidence, especially when DNA evidence is, in practice, very equivocal.

          DNA evidence really doesn’t prove or disprove much of anything. Television shows, which is what most people base their understanding of DNA evidence upon, routinely make it seem like it’s some sort of magic exculpatory evidence. It’s not, and never has been.

  10. My problem with the death penalty is simple: at the time of execution, the person being executed is not a threat. He is in prison, and has, in fact, been getting housed, clothed, fed, and possibly educated by the State… who is now going to kill a defenseless prisoner.

    1. Well, he can kill other prisoners. Or, he can kill guards. Imprisoned murderers have been known to get into a tussle here and there. Prisons are not exactly a Buddhist retreats for the conscientious.

      1. Yes. Other prisoners’ health is a reason to kill a different prisoner? And, as for the guards… well they decided that they would like a career keeping other people in cages, so their health also doesn’t make me want to be a party in the killing of a defenseless man.

        1. Sure. Other defenseless prisoners should not be murdered by you’re hypothetical “defenseless” death row inmate.

          1. As they are all prisoners, they would seem to be equal threats to each other, perhaps explaining both why they are in prison, and why prison is such a violent place. But I do not see how the state killing some prisoners really helps society.

            1. Why would they be equal threats simply by virtue of being prisoners? People are sentenced, and serve time together, for a variety of different crimes. There are violent inmates, and there are non-violent inmates. Killing a murderer helps society by deterring those who may be contemplating murder. It stops the murderer, if they are particularly violent, from harming other inmates or officers. It forecloses the prospect of the murderers release, upon which they can kill more people.

              Let us then suppose that, at the time of execution, the death row inmate is given a choice to fight to the death against a guard. He is given weapons and a fighting chance. He is no longer defenseless but, in the course of the fight, he is killed and, as a result, the sentence of death is carried out. Is that acceptable, in your view? Because it seems to me that the “defenseless at the time of execution” argument doesn’t make much sense.

              1. I guess it the NAP that convinced me that the death penalty was wrong. Killing someone who doesn’t need to be killed in order to defend someone else is a violation of the NAP.

              2. Hmm. But in this case, *if* the person did not pull the trigger, wouldn’t that impact your analysis of him being “particularly violent”?

                Me, I’d solve the problem by making murder while serving life in prison one of the only death penalty offenses.

          2. Prisoners who are there for all kinds of reasons kill other prisoners. So what is the point?

            1. A dead prisoner can’t kill other prisoners. That is one reason for the death penalty.

              1. Kill all prisoners then. People convicted of rape also kill other prisoners.

                1. Why do that? You asked what the point of the death penalty was; I gave you a reason. It’s a legitimate reason. You don’t have to agree, but you also don’t have to drag things into the realms of absurdity.

                  “Why ban speeding”

                  “Because when people speed in their cars, there is an increased chance of getting into an accident.”

                  “Okay, then, ban all cars, then.”

                  Come on, let’s be serious.

                  1. Ok with all due respect council. Let’s be serious.

                    You are a defense attorney as you have said. Defense.

                    I am a medical. I fight for life. You administer justice.

                    Here is the syringe.

                    You push the pentobarbital.

                    I want nothing to do with it.

    2. That’s why lynching is better, The state shouldnot have a monopoly on retributive violence. When non-state retributive violence flourishes preference for state use of it will whither away.

  11. Well, I certainly hope someone’s doing something for Richard Slysz as well.

    Oh wait–they can’t.

    Because Ray and Corey killed him.

    His life ended. They’re still breathing. They can sue for clemency.

    Richard can’t. Because they killed him.

    For the money in a convenience store cash register.

    Every second they’ve lived since they killed Richard was too many.

    Die.

    1. This is Exhibit A for why the death penalty shouldn’t exist.
      Because morons like Azathoth here *think* that An Eye For An Eye is actually justice, and the state provides cover for this belief by instituting the death penalty on his behalf.

      1. An eye for an eye IS actually justice.

        It was stated to make the point that the punishment must fit the crime for everyone

        Instead of the ‘eye for a slap on the wrist or a few shekels because the person who took out someone’s eye is rich, powerful or popular’ OR the ‘life for an eye because no one likes the accused’ that was the system before.

        But you don’t know that because your experience of the sentiment is hippy aphorisms about ‘an eye for an eye making the whole world blind’.

        It must be sad to be you.

        1. Eye for an eye.

          It doesn’t exactly translate as “for” in the passage in leviticus as we commonly see. It is more ambiguous than that. It says “eye tachat (תַּחַת) eye. The word tachat can mean, “ under” or “instead of” so it really means something more like “to replace” here. It has been understood to refer to compensation rather than vengance. After all, if you knock out my eye, tooth, or kill my animal what good does it do me to do the same to you.

          That is civil law. The next line is straightforward. 21 And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; and he that killeth a man shall be put to death.

          However it also says in Deuteronomy that the hands of the witnesses against him must throw the first stones. This indicates a more ambivalent attitude.

          As I mentioned earlier in Jewish law the courts made the legal requirements so stringent that it rarely, if ever happened.

          “ A Sanhedrin [rabbinic court] that executes once in seven years is destructive. Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah says, ‘Every 70 years.’ Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva say, “If we were in a Sanhedrin, no man would ever be executed.”

          The medieval philosopher Maimonides said this “ It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death.”

          So it has been an issue since ancient times and just sharing some old wisdom.

          The way I take it is this. In principle it may be justice to kill a murderer. In practice it should never be done.

          So my Sunday school lecture for the day.

          1. Well, thank you for your elaboration

            I take a bit of issue with this–

            The way I take it is this. In principle it may be justice to kill a murderer. In practice it should never be done

            after you’ve said this–

            As I mentioned earlier in Jewish law the courts made the legal requirements so stringent that it rarely, if ever happened.

            Because this–

            As I mentioned earlier in Jewish law the courts made the legal requirements so stringent that it rarely, if ever happened.

            despite what anti-death penalty activists say, is where we are today.

            1. Rarely if ever is not even close to the once in 7 year standard let alone the 70 year or never standard. In the Mishnah I quoted R. Akiva, he was considered the heavyweight, said never.

              The standard above is a tautology no matter what number you put in front of it because a court is considered murderous “even if once in x years” therefore any death sentence imposed was to be seen as a murderous court.

              What it really means is that by late antiquity around 50 c.e. the practice was abolished in that civilization.

      2. Pedo Jeffy. You are a stupid little shit. You are not to be impugning anyone’s intellect. In fact, I’m pissed at whoever let you in here again.

        Now fuck off.

  12. That’s because Cromartie participated in the robbery that led to a man’s death, making him a party to the crime.

    Is the Reason editorial stance that Felony Murder is unethical? If so, I’d really like to see some articles discussing *why*. You know – getting down to the nitty-gritty of how libertarian principles do or do not support certain things. There is certainly room for differences within libertarianism and I would genuinely be interested in your interpretation of libertarianism and how, moving on from basic principles, you come to the position that felony murder is not a ‘legitimate’ crime and how you think the state should deal with people who are complicit in crimes that lead to someone’s death even if they went in without the intent to kill.

    Should felony murder be equivalent to, say, manslaughter? Reckless endangerment? Should these people only be charged with the crimes they intended to commit rather than the crimes they fall into due to the actions of their accomplices?

    Let me ask you this, Davis – if one man holds a woman down so that another man can rape her, what should the prosecutor’s office charge that man with?

    If one man stands outside the window while his compatriot enters someone else’s house and simply receives the stuff handed to him by the guy inside, is that man not complicit in burglary? Should he not be charged with burglary? Perhaps only with ‘receiving stolen goods’.

    If I point a loaded firearm at you, with the safety off, and my accomplice bumps my hand and the gun goes off and kills you – should I really only be charged with armed robbery? Even though my reckless disregard of your safety put you in the situation where you got shot?

    1. If Reason has already done that rationale, I would appreciate a link to the article if anyone has it.

        1. Thank you for the link.

    2. “if one man holds a woman down so that another man can rape her, what should the prosecutor’s office charge that man with?”

      Under Georgia law, rape. A person is a party to a crime if he “Intentionally aids or abets in the commission of the crime”. If a person holds a clerk so someone else can shoot them, that’s murder. No felony murder law needed.

      “If I point a loaded firearm at you, with the safety off, and my accomplice bumps my hand and the gun goes off and kills you – should I really only be charged with armed robbery?”

      “Only” armed robbery? Under Georgia law, ” A person convicted of the offense of armed robbery shall be punished by death or imprisonment for life or by imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 20 years.” You think that’s not enough?

      1. Under Georgia law, rape. A person is a party to a crime if he “Intentionally aids or abets in the commission of the crime”. If a person holds a clerk so someone else can shoot them, that’s murder. No felony murder law needed.

        There’s no practical difference. A case can be made that felony murder is an unecessarily duplicative law – but that’s not the case Reason is making here. Felony murder is effectively ‘you were party to a murder’ charge.

        1. Well, the law is duplicative in some of the worst hypothetical situations people are coming up with. (“Hey, what if a gang leader gives a member a gun and tells them to shoot?” No, the gang leader is already guilty of regular murder in that situation, no special felony murder law needed.) This means we can repeal it without making any truly murderous behavior legal. Where it’s *not* duplicative are the situations where the person did not intend for there to be a death. I think there is a problem when we have murder charges (and the death penalty) for people who did not intend that anyone die, *especially* if they did not even directly cause the death.

          “If I point a loaded firearm at you, with the safety off, and my accomplice bumps my hand and the gun goes off and kills you – should I really only be charged with armed robbery?”

          But what if you aren’t in the middle of an armed robbery and that happens? What if you’re just walking down the street and are careless with your gun and someone bumps your hand and it kills me? That would be criminally reckless, but it wouldn’t be murder. I guess I don’t see why the robbery should make it murder. Either you intended that someone die, or you didn’t.

    3. For one, while this magazine’s authors tend to oppose felony murder as a rule, there’s no need to even take that position to be against felony murder as a basis the death penalty. For one, a person can just be opposed to the death penalty, even for murder. Incidentally, that is this magazine’s position, generally. For another, the whole point of felony murder is that, when death is a foreseeable consequence of committing a particular crime, you can infer intent. While you can certainly argue that this is a legitimate basis for convicting someone of murder, it is much harder to argue that this is a legitimate basis for the death penalty itself. The whole reason for bifurcated death penalty trials is that someone can be guilty of murder, but not be the worst of the worst kind of murderer. Under current Eighth Amendment law, that is the kind of person for whom the death penalty is reserved. It’s very hard to make out a case that someone who did something very dangerous, and very illegal, and knew that death was a foreseeable result, is in the same moral category as someone who actually meant to kill someone. Even outside of homicide law, this is considered a meaningful distinction; it’s why, as a general rule, we punish crimes less severely if they were done knowingly as opposed to purposely. This article is taking the position that, since there’s a chance that this guy didn’t actually kill the victim, but was a participant in the crime that led to his death, the death penalty is inappropriate for him. That’s a more defensible position under current law, and I would also argue just as a moral issue, than “felony murder is a good rule.” Your position is too general to apply well to this case.

  13. Some folks just need killin’.This motherfucker is 25 years overdue.

    1. You don’t know anything about him, other than he was a participant in one crime where someone died, and may have been a participant in another. You certainly don’t know that he actually killed anyone. It’s one thing to say that accomplice liability and felony murder are reasonable rules of law; it’s a whole other ball game to say this guy just needs to be killed.

  14. Any felony with a firearm should receive capital punishment and it should not take 25 years for justice to be served. 24 hours is plenty of time to appeal.

    1. How about 70 years. You have 70 years to appeal before the sentence is carried out

  15. This thug and his lawyers are just doing everything they can to delay, delay, delay. In the end, it won’t matter one bit. The thug will be executed because the law stating that any participant in a crime is equally guilty, no matter what their role is a valid law. It matters not one bit if he was the one who pulled the trigger or not. He is equally culpable.

    Laws of this type have been upheld by not only appeals courts but also the Supreme Court on numerous occasions, something his attorney’s damn well know.

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