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To Kill a Murderer

Twenty years ago, Nathan Dunlap walked into a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora, Colorado. Holmes, the future mass killer who would go on to make Aurora briefly famous after opening fire in a movie theater, was six years old at the time. Just old enough to patronize a Chuck E. Cheese.

Dunlap had been fired from the restaurant in the spring of that year and told a friend that he wanted to get even, go in and take all the money. One cold wintry evening he walked in, put a gun to the head of a 19-year-old girl at the salad bar and pulled the trigger. Then he killed three others and stole $1,591 before being arrested by the police.

Over the next twenty years, Dunlap and his lawyers did everything possible to get their client off. They claimed that his trial lawyers were incompetent, that he was abused as a child and that he had mental problems. That same claim is made by the defenders of nearly every murderer on death row.  There has yet to be an inmate on death row who isn't a mentally ill child who was sexually abused by his incompetent lawyers.

Dunlap's case went to the Colorado Supreme Court three times and once to the Supreme Court. And that means that after twenty years, he may finally be executed. The taxpayers of Colorado have spent millions fighting Dunlap's lawyers. Aside from the usual attempts to keep Dunlap from facing the death penalty, the ACLU sued Colorado over exercise privileges for the Chuck E. Cheese killer.

"Depriving Mr. Dunlap of fresh air, sunshine, and outdoor exercise for 15 years is cruel and unusual punishment,"  the ACLU legal director said last year.

In Georgia, the murderer sympathy vote is swarming around Warren Lee Hill.

Like Dunlap, Hill is a multiple murderer. In 1986, Hill shot his girlfriend 11 times. Four years later he beat another inmate to death in prison with a nail-studded board. Hill was finally on the verge on being executed, but his defenders had one last gimmick arguing that Georgia can't kill Hill, because he only has an IQ of 70.

America's greatest mentally retarded president, Jimmy Carter, came out in Hill's defense and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals stepped in a half hour before Hill would have faced justice. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is not supposed to handle death penalty cases, but activist judges know no boundaries and the court has stepped in to halt two of Georgia's executions in two days.

Hill only began claiming that he was retarded in 1996, ten years after his original murder, at which point his IQ scores, formerly in the mid-70s, dropped down to a more appropriately low level. Despite supposedly being retarded, Hill had managed to serve in the military and hold down steady jobs, not to mention murder two people. But no one has established whether Hill is mentally retarded within a reasonable doubt.

Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, who has also claimed that drone strikes are a war crime, declared that "the world community is again watching Georgia with great concern as it prepares to carry out another grotesque and unjust execution." The South African Heyns did not say whether he would be willing to be locked in a cell for 24 hours with Hill and a nail-studded board.

Andrew Cook, the other death row inmate on whose behalf the 11th Circuit intervened, came up with an even better gimmick. Cook claimed that he couldn't be lethally injected with pentobarbital without a doctor's prescription. What should have been a punchline to a standup comedian's joke is an actual tactic that pro-murderer death penalty opponents are using to stop Georgia from killing murderers.

European drug companies are refusing to supply drugs that can be used for lethal injections to the United States leading to a shortage of pentobarbital. Lethal injection however is only the most painless way to kill murderers. There are other less cleaner ways that states will have to resort to if the drugs aren't available. The electric chair is used in nine states, the gas chamber in four states and the firing squad in two states. If we ever run out of bullets, gas and electricity, New Hampshire, the Live Free or Die state, authorizes an old-fashioned rope hanging if the drugs run out.

Cook, who can't be killed without a doctor's prescription, murdered a young couple by a lakeshore lover's lane 18 years ago. There is no word on whether he got a doctor's note before killing Grant Henderson and Michele Cartagena. Cook didn't know the young couple, he just wanted to see if he could kill someone and get away with it. Now he wants to see if he can get away with murder by demanding that a doctor write a prescription for his lethal injection.

In Florida, the battle is on over Paul Augustus Howell. Howell tried to murder another member in the Jamaican Posse drug ring with a pipe bomb because she could tie him to the murder of another drug dealer over a kilo of cocaine. The bomb was put inside a microwave oven which was gift-wrapped and driven to her in a stolen car by a member of the gang. The car was stopped along the way and Jimmy Fulford, a state trooper, unwrapped the booby-trapped oven suspecting that there were drugs inside. Instead the bomb exploded in his hands. That was over twenty years ago.

Howell's defenders are making the usual arguments about unqualified lawyers. And the lawyers are always unqualified. Each set of lawyers claims that the previous set was unqualified and neglected to provide a proper defense by exploiting every possible gimmick. The gimmick in the Howell case is that his lawyer's wife apparently received a death threat from one of Howell's associates back when he was defending him in a previous drug case.

Apparently getting a death threat from the associates of the man you are defending in a previous case represents a conflict of interest.

Like every other murderer out there, Howell's lawyers have also claimed that he was abused as a child and might be mentally ill, if not mentally retarded. With that kind of legal obstacle course, it's a wonder that any murderer ever makes it to the end of the line. But you can always count on Texas to deliver the goods.

In 1994, Carl Blue filled up a Big Gulp cup with gasoline, threw it at his girlfriend and then set her on fire with a lighter. Carmen Richards-Sanders died horribly after clinging to life for 19 days with burns over 40 percent of her body. Even in Texas it took 19 years to get Blue, who had been smoking crack before the attack, to his final end.

Along the way, Blue's lawyers claimed that he was also retarded because he had been born premature and had to be kept in an incubator and that the attack had only been a prank, even though Blue told his girlfriend, "I told you I was gonna get you" as she was burning up.

Blue said that he didn't feel that he was guilty of murder, but that he still expected to go to heaven and wanted to be buried in a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. There's no telling whether he will get his wish, but the cowboy state did execute the Big Gulp killer, making him the first Texas killer to die this year. And the second killer in the United States to be sent beyond the reach of any living ACLU lawyer and into the jurisdiction of the dead ACLU lawyers in the underworld.

In Tennessee, Christa Gail Pike, the only woman on death row, is also pleading mental illness and mental retardation. In 1995, Pike lured another girl whom she suspected of trying to steal her boyfriend into the woods, stabbed her with a meat cleaver and carved a pentagram on her chest. The torture went on for 30 minutes until the victim's skull was finally smashed in with a chunk of asphalt. Pike even kept a piece of her victim's skull in her jacket as a souvenir, despite claiming that the brutal murder had just been another prank that got out of control.

At her sentencing, the prosecutor read a letter that she had written to her boyfriend. "Ya see what I get for tryin' to be nice to that hoe? I went ahead and bashed her brains out so she'd die quickly instead of letting her bleed to death and they f***ing fry me!" 

Like Hill, Pike didn't stay idle in prison. Instead she tried to murder another inmate with a shoelace over yet another romantic triangle. And she filed numerous appeals. Her original lawyers were incompetent and she suffered from PTSD and all sorts of mental problems. The latest filings claim that Pike should have gotten a change of venue, a fairer jury and a gag order on the media. It claims that death by electrocution is cruel and unusual punishment and that the victim's skull should not have been submitted into evidence. Finally the claim claims that Pike's original lawyers were incompetent because they failed to argue that the death penalty was illegal under international law.

As February fades, these are just a few of the battles being fought for decades by prosecutors against the murderers and their defenders. It is a long slow war that costs millions and that ends only when the needle goes in and the life of a murderer ends.

The details of each battle remain mostly the same. Each murderer is a victim. Each one was abused as a child and suffers from mental illness and diminished intelligence. Each one was denied a fair trial. There is little point in paying attention to these monotonous defenses of evil. What is interesting is the motivation behind them.

The Pro-Murderer Anti-Death Penalty lobby is very wealthy and very active. The rights of criminals have always been more protected than those of victims and the war being waged on the death penalty is an international campaign.

While the parents of victims wait decades for closure, the international left wages a ceaseless war against them.

In Tennessee, the mother of Pike's victim has been waiting nearly twenty years to bury that piece of her daughter's skull. As long as Pike lives, the State of Tennessee has to hang on to it as a piece of evidence in the legal war between Pike's defenders and the People of Tennessee. Only when Pike is dead, will her victim finally be buried at last.


  1. We ought to empty our death rows and transport the inmates and their ACLU defenders to a secluded island. Then we can see who wins the battle of the survival of the fittest.

    At least we wouldn't have to worry about murderers ever dying of old age.

  2. Anonymous25/2/13

    Norm, I have a way better plan, Kill them. ALL of them. Weld steel plate over the doors and windows of the prisons and gas everything inside with dry nitrogen. KILL THEM ALL. Evey Lawer, judge, Polition,and felon.

  3. Of course a murderer is crazy. You can't have a normally functioning brain and still commit some of these horrendous acts. Why is this even a logical argument?

  4. Bob Moore25/2/13

    There is precious little justice in this world, but
    be aware that there is more justice coming than these
    idiots want:

    Isaiah 5:20-21, 23-24, Woe unto them that call evil good,
    and good evil; that put darkness for light, and
    light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet,
    and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise
    in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

    Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away
    the righteousness of the righteous from him!
    Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and
    the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root
    shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall
    go up as dust: because they have cast away
    the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word
    of the Holy One of Israel.

    Don't doubt it folks.

  5. Anonymous25/2/13

    Norm, wonder if the French will loan us Devil's Island for your project?

  6. I totaly agree with NormanF but they should send all those incompetent lawyers there, too!

  7. Vegas Dave25/2/13

    Fantastic job, as usual. The progressive left fails to see the damage caused by coddling criminals. Criminals no longer fear punishment or prison, which they view as measure of status.

    Only harsher punishment, work camps, forced labor, solitary confinement, elimination of work out rooms, etc.. will lead to improvement.

  8. Only saints who are also geniuses deserve to die for their crimes. In every other case, it's someone else's fault.

  9. Anonymous25/2/13

    I agree with you AG.

    Yet the legal definition of insanity is pretty much the same--the ability to distinguish right from wrong. That's subjective in the mind of virtually all killers.

    It's sad, though, that people with genuine, long established histories of severe mental illnesses are sentenced to death. All the more so if they are the victims of ineffective assistance of counsel:(


  10. Anonymous25/2/13

    Vegas Dave is also right. IMO a lot of repeat offenders see prison life as an extension of gang life aka substitute families. Their prison "homes" provide free housing, three squares a day, free health care, free TV, free exercise yards, free high school and college education etc.

    Freedom itself? That doesn't seem to be an issue for them since they don't have to lift a finger for anything they need. They also have the option of working in prisons so they can buy stuff the prison doesn't provide, and to keep their minds and hands busy.

    So they have all of the comforts of home so to speak in their minds and all of their needs are met free of charge. They're career criminals and have chosen this life.

    Russia takes a much, much more extreme approach when it comes to prison life (watch Russia's Toughest Prisons on You Tube). Some of it borders on torture but some of it can and should be applied to make US prison life unpleasant enough so that criminals never want to go there again.


  11. The Onion weighs in on Warren Lee Hill:


  12. Anonymous25/2/13

    I'll give some (very limited) 'credibility' to the motivations of the aclu when they start advocating for the RIGHTS of the victims. Until then, as far as I am concerned they are nothing but a bunch of lying lawyers who are no better than the criminals they 'defend'.

  13. Anonymous25/2/13

    Sadly you do not want a system where murderers do not have the right to appeal and promote defenses no matter how inane. There have been too many death row inmates who have also been exonerated over the years using new DNA science. The problem is that death is permanent and you need to give every inmate the same rights even those caught red-handed. You cannot pick and chose who is and is not worthy of rights, the Bill of Rights does not work that way for anyone or any right.No it isn't fare to the victims nor their loved ones, by any means, but it would be worse if the state executed an innocent person. Sorry but the obligation of the state is not to the victims but to uphold the rule of law and no justice is not always fair, just like life.

    And yes there are those diametrically opposed to the death penalty. They too are entitled under law to promote their ideals. The reality is that it actually costs less per capita to just keep someone in prison for the rest of their lives, rather than sentence someone to death because of the court costs. The trick could be to make sure there really is no possibility of parole for those sentenced to real life imprisonment. Until that happens then the death penalty is society's way of extracting the greatest sentence for the most horrific of crimes, but no one ever said the implementation of the death penalty should ever be easy.

  14. If they would carry out executions within a week of being found guilty, the murder rate would take a drastic drop. Contrary to what some people believe, 99.9% of people in jail and on death row belong there. The rare innocent ones would have to be absorbed like all those polls they do where they say it may be plus or minus a number. There is very little justice for victims in this country. I witnessed a murder back in 1987 and was a main prosecution witness. They couldn't bring up another case where he shot someone because he was a minor. So he got to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter, although it was pre-meditated murder (I saw him take careful aim with a rifle and kill my friend.) The case never went to trial. He got five years. Two years for the killing and three years for shooting across a public road. He is out today like nothing happened, somewhere, and he will kill again in the future.

  15. Anonymous25/2/13

    I have an idea for those who state that it is too costly to execute a murderer or our prisons are over crowded: Ask the Russians if they would re-open some of their Gulags in Siberia. I am presuming that it would be cheaper to contract out having the Russians do it for us. As I see the matter it would be a win-win situation. We get rid of our criminal trash, and the Russians get to make a ruble from it, and keep so folks employed. Siberia is one very big and cold place. I am sure that once the word gets out that you very likely will serve your prison term in full in Siberia, it will serve as a deterent to many bad guys.

  16. My ideal of a swift and just legal system for murderers/drug traffickers is Singapore.

    You receive a fair trial, due process of law, you get to appeal your sentence but when everything fails, you are promptly executed.

    The best thing about the island city state is it has zero tolerance for drug traffickers. If you come into the airport there with even a small amount of contraband substances, you will presumed to have intent to traffick in drugs unless you can prove otherwise in court.

    And death is the sentence for drug trafficking. And due to its harsh justice system, Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. You break the laws there at your own risk.

  17. It's a tough call these days. Welfare or prison. Both offer a pretty decent living. Being a productive member of society just doesn't hold the appeal it once did.

  18. The real issue here is that the Left, and many sympathetic on the Right, don't believe in purposely harming others, for any reason. Even in self-defense.

    This ties into their desire for gun control. In their view, it's better to let someone else kill you than it is to fight back and kill them first.

    At the heart of the problem is the idea that Good is fundamentally no different from (and certainly no better than) Evil. Not just pacifism, but sacrifice; that if we were just nice to Evil, if we gave Evil what it needed, everything would be OK. The truth is that giving Evil what it needs, makes it stronger; it's never enough. The process also assaults the Good, depriving them precisely because they are the Good.

  19. semperfi26/2/13

    @Rick ... you said "The real issue here is that the Left, and many sympathetic on the Right, don't believe in purposely harming others, for any reason. Even in self-defense."

    Except the Left has no problem killing unborn children, approx 1.3M a year in the U.S.

    I agree with the rest of what you wrote. Our culture diminishes the line between Good and Evil. No longer are there stark, black-and-white contrasts, but a nebulous "grey" with a lack of personal responsibility.

  20. Powerful words and I'll bet you only scratched the surface of the tragedies.
    Thank you for your work Daniel, you are a must daily read.

  21. Anonymous27/2/13

    The death penalty is an issue with which I struggle. On the one hand many of these monsters deserve the most painful termination imaginable. On the other hand...do we really want to continue to give the state that power? Government's relentless appetite to intrude and take over every aspect of our lives is insatiable. I like the idea of removing the power to kill us from their arsenal.

    It's a real conundrum.

  22. Anonymous28/2/13

    If there were no death penalty, the same arguments would be used against Life imprisonment with no possibility of parole and if there were no life sentences, the arguments would be made against 25 year terms. This is exactly what has happened in the UK, where not only is there no death penalty, there is virtually no prison time for even serious crimes. The true goal leaves the elite, which inflicted the misery upon everyone, safe behind high walls with guards. And the people? Suffering.


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