Dangerous Dan Thoughts and musings on the world


More AP Fuzziness on Executions

Filed under: Media,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 3:20 pm

I complained here that when producing articles about death penalty cases, the AP is remarkably biased. Its stories focus almost exclusively on the plight of the person to be executed and almost completely ignore what the person did that got them on death row to begin with.

Well, they’re doing it again. Clarence Ray Allen is to be executed in California Tuesday and, naturally, he and his lawyers are trying to keep that from happening. His defense is that he’s nearly 76 years old (he’s been on death row for 23 years), is now blind and deaf, often has to use a wheelchair and was even resuscitated after a heart attack last year. Essentially, the defense is that it’s cruel and unusual punishment to execute such an old and feeble man.

“The spectacle of Mr. Allen being wheeled into the death chamber, unable to walk and unable to see those who have come to witness his execution, violates all standards of decency and would amount to nothing more than the purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering prohibited by the Eighth Amendment,” said Annette Carnegie, one of Allen’s attorneys.

Once again, the AP article severely skimps on describing the crime(s) the condemned has committed that earned him his date with a needle, so let me fill in the blanks.

Allen was first given a life sentence for the 1974 murder of Mary Sue Kitts, his son’s girlfriend, whom he murdered because she told the police about a burglary he had committed. While in prison, he then contracted with his cellmate to have the man kill eight witnesses who had testified at his murder trial. Upon being released on parole, his hit man, Billy Ray Hamilton, went to the first witness’s place of work and shot him square in the forehead with a sawed off shotgun. He then proceeded to kill two of the man’s co-workers, shooting them while they lay on the ground, and he wounded two others (one of whom nearly had his arm blown off when he used it to block the shotgun blast).

So let’s review. He personally killed one person and conspired to kill eight more people, one of whom was “successfully” murdered. Oh, and another two folks were killed as a result. That’s four people whom Clarence Ray Allen is responsible for murdering and when he was a spry 44 and 50 year-old at that. You’ll forgive me if I trouble mustering sympathy for Allen considering the horrific crimes he committed, not to mention the further killings he would have carried had his hit man not been captured.

The AP article, though, doesn’t tell you about any of this. Here’s the best we get:

Allen is set to die by injection Tuesday for ordering three slayings while behind bars for another murder.

and this:

The brother of one of Allen’s victims said the arguments in favor of sparing the killer’s life are nonsensical. Robert Rocha — whose sister, Josephine, was murdered at a Fresno market in 1980 by a hitman Allen hired — said Allen’s repeated appeals are the only reason he is old and frail.

“Mr. Allen feels he is too old to die,” Rocha said. “We feel Josephine was too young to die. She was only 17 when she was taken from us and murdered.”

Robert Rocha’s absolutely correct. People say Allen is too old to die. It’s far worse to be too young to die and that’s Allen forced on his victims.

1 Comment »

  1. […] I’ve complained several times about the AP’s reporting on captial punishment cases, mainly that they’re long on the plight of the condemned and almost wholly omit discussion of the crimes they committed and the people they killed. Well, I need to give credit where it’s due as this article is nearly the exact opposite. It goes into some detail of the murders ordered by Clarence Ray Allen who is to be executed tonight, and makes it clear that he was a bad man. It even includes pictures of three of the people he was responsible for murdering. It’s worth reading. […]

    Pingback by Dangerous Dan » AP Does Right on Execution Reporting — 1/19/2006 @ 1:35 pm

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