I was more than a little surprised to not see a single post on this topic, so I thought I would start it up. The more I read about this story, the more frustrated I feel.
The basics: Stan “Tookie” Williams was a founding member of the LA street gang the Crips back in 1971 at the age of 17. He was convicted in the 1979 shotgun murders of 4 people - 63 year old Tsai-Shen Yang, her husband Yen-Yi Yang, 67, and daughter Ye-Chen Lin, 43, during the robbery of a motel they owned.
He was also convicted of murdering 7-11 store clerl Albert Owens, 19, during a robbery where he apparently mocked the gurgling sounds made by Owens as he lay face down on the ground dying after an execution-style shotgun blast to the back of his head.
Fast-forward to today. Tookie has written some children’s books and has made a lot of statements about changing his ways, working to end gang violence, etc. Was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Jamie Foxx starred in a movie about his life.
Williams has exhausted all of his legal remedies after the California Supreme Court rejected his appeal to overturn his death sentence and all that’s left now is for Governor Schwarzenegger to provide clemency.
You now have this being the Hollywood celebrity cause du jour with all sorts of protests that Tookie has changed his life, he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, etc.
Seemingly forgotten in all of this is that Tookie refuses to say he did it or express any remose - even though there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to show he did it.
He has refused to cooperate with authorities about any of his past gang activities since he does not want to be a “snitch” (and there is some suspicion that he may even still be involved in running gang operations from prison).
Also seemingly forgotten in all of this are the victims of the crime as well (which always seems to happen). I have a link that takes you to crime scene photos, but I did not really want to post it since they are more than a little troubling.
So here’s what I am wondering and would like to hear people thoughts on:
In a death sentence case, should it matter at all what the convicted murderer has done with his or her life after their conviction? Should it matter if Williams has written children’s books and is working towards ending gang violence?
Should that be taken into account at all for either court decisions or even the clemency decisions of a governor?
The hard thing about this case (for me) is that I’m actually against the death penalty. I just have never believed it actually does any good and serves more to satisfy our blood lust for vengeance when a horrible crime occurs. It never brings back the deceased loved ones. It never fixes anything.
In addition, given the fact that it always seems to be disproportionately applied to minorities for similar crimes to whites, I’m more than a little suspicious.
Anyway, just wanted to be honest that I feel more than a little conflicted on this one. I really don’t support the death penalty, but at the same time, if there were a case for it, it seems like this is one.