NG Explorer on ExecutionsJuly 14, 2009Dangerous Dan No Comments »
I'm currently watching National Geographic Explorer's episode on executions, with a (understandable) focus on the Texas death row in Huntsville. I've always like the Explorer series and they tend to play it pretty straight without taking sides (or at least without being too overt about it). One gets a vague feeling of disapproval. In times like this, though, I like to note the crimes for which these were executed.
Johnny Ray Johnson: Johnson confessed that he offered to give Leah Smith some of his crack cocaine in exchange for sex. After Smith smoked the crack, she refused to have sex with Johnson. He became angry and grabbed her, ripped her clothes off, and threw her to the ground. When she fought back with a wooden board, Johnson repeatedly struck her head against the cement curb until she stopped fighting, and then raped her. During the punishment phase of his trial, the State introduced evidence, including Johnson’s oral and written confessions, revealing that Johnson raped and/or murdered numerous other women on several occasions in much the same manner.
Willie Earl Pondexter: Pondexter and accomplices Ricky Bell, Deon Williams, and James Henderson met together and discussed robbing Martha Lennox, a wealthy 84-year-old woman in Clarksville. They parked a few blocks away. On their first attempt to enter the house, they saw a patrolling police car. The men ran back to their car, but later returned to Lennox's house. After Pondexter kicked in the front door, all four of them went inside and went upstairs to Lennox's bedroom. The victim was there, sitting on her bed. Williams then took $7 from the victim's coin purse. Lennox was then shot twice in the head with a 9 mm pistol. The intruders then fled in the victim's car. Pondexter and his companions drove Lennox's car to Dallas, using the money they stole to buy gas. The day after the murder, they were arrested after attempting to rob a man on the street. At Pondexter's trial, Deon Williams testified that Henderson shot Lennox in the head first, then handed the gun to Pondexter. Pondexter then shot Lennox in the head and said, "that's how you smoke a bitch." James Lee Henderson was also convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. He remains on death row.
David Martinez: Martinez lived with his firlfriend, Carolina Prado and her two children, 14 year old Erik and 10 year old Belinda. On July 10, 1994, Martinez beat Carolina to death with a baseball bat in her bed, and used the same bat on Erik in the living room. Belinda was left tied up but unharmed and had seen her brother beaten to death by Martinez. She escaped and returned with her Grandmother who discovered the bodies. Upon arrest, Martinez confessed to the murders, bragging that he had killed them like cockroaches. No apparent motive for the murders was revealed.
I've always had a rather unsophisticated argument for the death penalty and it goes like this: Some people just deserve to die. That's pretty much it. No nuance about justice, costs, etc. These guys commit horrific crimes and their lives become forfeit. They simply deserve to die.