New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, who never saw a convicted murderer who deserved execution, has found another dirt bag to save. His latest cause is Troy Davis, who was found guilty in 1991 for the murder of police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in 1989 in the parking lot of a Burger King in Savannah, Georgia.
A jury found Davis guilty of shooting the off-duty officer to death as he tried to save a homeless man from being pistol-whipped. There were 7 eyewitnesses to the murder and it still took 2 years to convict in this most sluggish of all criminal justice systems. Now, 20 years after the murder and 18 years after the conviction and sentence of death, the familiar refrain begins again to save a murderer because his guilt is, according to Herbert, "seriously in question."
Keep in mind, Herbert is the same liberal columnist who supported the commutation of the death sentence for Mumia abu jamal, convicted of gunning down police officer Daniel Faulkner, in Philadelphia in 1981. The reason Mumia is still breathing 28 years after his brutal act is because people like Herbert, and some of the usual ditsy Hollywood radicals, (Danny Glover, Ossie Davis, Susan Sarandon and Whoopi Goldberg, to name a few) have protested the verdict and the sentence.
The fact that several witnesses on the scene saw the murder up close and kept their eyes on Mumia, who was wounded in the shootout, until the police arrived and cuffed him, didn't seem to matter to those whose hearts will always bleed for a cop-killer, but never for a cop. Officer Faulkner has been dead and buried for 28 years, so his life is beyond saving. His slayer, however, has had all those years to fight the evidence, write columns from prison (he's become a prison journalist and radio host), meet with the usual nutbags that populate the entertainment industry and spend taxpayers' money in an endless series of appeals to save his worthless life. In a bizarre way, cases like this illustrate that once you've been murdered, the chances of justice for you and your family are short-lived. Your killer can put on a full court press to solicit supporters in his fight for life. If he fights long and hard enough, the memory of his crime becomes clouded by the sheer magnitude of those purporting to have evidence of his "innocence."
In the Davis case, Herbert writes, "It's bad enough that we still execute people in the United States. It's absolutely chilling that we're willing to do it when we're not even sure we've got the right person in our clutches." To the liberal, anti-capital punishment mindset, the authorities will never have the right person in their clutches. Among the handwringers wanting to spare Davis is Barry Scheck, one of the lawyers who helped get O.J. Simpson acquitted. It's truly amazing that any of these homicide-abettors have even the slightest amount of credibility.
They tell us that some of the witnesses have since recanted the testimony they gave in court. Could it be that they've been harassed for the past 18 years by relatives and friends of the killer? Perhaps they were tired of being intimidated for telling the truth and have been assured that the statute of limitations on perjury has expired, so they have nothing to lose. Besides, where have they been all these years? Moreover, if they say they were lying then, how can we be sure they're not lying now?
That's why it's axiomatic in the annals of jurisprudence that true justice is swift and sure. All of this was thoroughly examined almost two decades ago when the evidence was fresh and the witnesses were clear about their observations. When you have scores, if not hundreds of people plotting for all these years and using every conceivable tactic to save a killer from the fate he deserves, a fate rendered by a jury who weighed all the facts, there is always a chance that justice will be turned on its head and evil will prevail. Mr. Herbert refers to the countdown to execution as a "ghoulish ritual." He fails to mention whether the cold-blooded murder of innocent people by violent savages is "ghoulish." When the victim's family struggles with the maddeningly long trial process, conviction, sentencing and the decades-long wait for justice, is that not ghoulish? Herbert and his liberal cronies spend no time lamenting the misery visited upon the families; their compassion is limited to the murderers in our midst. Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. Email Bob.