Sometimes news stories land close enough together in the croquet game we call "life" that it bears noting. Last week, Walter Moody Jr. was executed in Alabama. He was put to death for the murders of federal judge Robert Vance and civil rights lawyer Robert Robinson back in 1989. Convicted in 1991 on seventy-one counts connected to the mail bombing of these two men, Mister Moody maintained his innocence during his stay on death row. His appeals were heard as high as the United States Supreme Court, and were denied. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement that "Moody's appeals finally came to a rightful end. Justice has been served."
Justice, or something like it.
Prisons, especially death row, is filled with innocent people. Just ask them. Of course it makes nothing but sense that anyone who faced the ultimate penalty would object most strenuously to the suggestion that they were guilty. It's all about survival, after all. There have been a few exceptions to this rule, but it is precisely for this reason that we have an appeals process in place for capital cases. It's an expensive proposition, costing millions of dollars more than a sentence of life imprisonment. The time that Walter Moody spent waiting his execution brought him to an ironic point in his life where the urgency switched from blind justice to just getting the sentence carried out before he died of old age. Kind of the ultimate "you can't fire me, I quit" scenario.
Meanwhile, in California, Vicente Benavides was released from prison after serving twenty-five years on death row for the rape and killing of his girlfriend's nearly two-year-old daughter. A quarter of a century after it was concluded, it turned out that false medical testimony was presented at his trial. Turns out it was more likely that the girl had been hit by a car and left for dead. Sorry, Mister Benavides. Here's your twenty-five years back. California has the nation's largest death row with nearly seven hundred fifty inmates. Only thirteen have been executed since 1978. The last took place in 2006. Currently, condemned inmates are more likely to die of old age during decades of appeals.
Please feel free to consider this confluence of events, unfolded as they did over the years.
We have to live with that.