In another example of what I’ve come to call “Nancy Grace Syndrome”, a prosecutor team in Alabama has decided to charge someone with capital murder.
This one concerns the grandmother and stepmother of the little girl that collapsed and died after being forced to run outside for three hours after lying about taking a candy bar.
In my opinion (and I am most empathically not a lawyer, so take it for what it’s worth), the charge is a mistake. Just like in the Casey Anthony charge, the prosecution went for the big hammer based on perception and public outrage. In the end, they may be doing themselves and the public a huge disservice by overcharging the defendants and opening the possibility of letting them walk for the offense. (I believe that Casey Anthony’s prosecutor had charged her with manslaughter instead of Murder One, she would not be free right now. But a capital murder charge requires extraordinarily solid proof as to mindset and motive, and they failed to make the jury agree.)
I mentioned in my last post that I was on the receiving end of child abuse when I was a kid. I have no sympathy for child abusers at all, and I think what they did to that little girl was despicable and inexcusable. I think they all ought to go to prison for manslaughter and child abuse. But I don’t think the offense warrants capital murder charges because the prosecution will not be able to prove mens rea, and as a member of the defendant’s jury, I would vote to acquit.
(That is, of course, unless the prosecution had some truly extraordinary proof, something like a diary entry by the grandmother declaring a plan to kill her granddaughter through exercise for, I dunno, profit or something.)
Putting people to death is a big deal, and a capital murder charge requires rock-solid evidence. If that piece of garbage gets to walk, it’ll be on the prosecutor’s head. If we start putting people on death row based on the level of public outrage, sooner or later the yardstick for that most severe of punishments will get lowered, and before you know it, we hoist people from cranes in the village square like they do in Iran.