Thursday, April 17, 2008

Unringing the Bell

In the news in San Diego today is a murder case that turns out not to be murder. In 2002 the husband of Cynthia Sommer, a sergeant in the Marine Corps, died under suspicious circumstances. Tests revealed that his body contained large quantities of arsenic. Cynthia Sommer was behaving suspiciously as well, partying on the life insurance money and obtaining breast implants, and in 2007 she was convicted of murdering him.

Her conviction was overturned due to incompetent counsel and she was awarded a new trial. The first thing the new lawyer did was order that the tissue test be redone and it showed that there was no arsenic. Charges have been dropped and Sommer is being released.

I have always been uncertain about the death penalty. We are, I believe, the only Western nation that still does this, or are one of the very few. Most nations will not extradite anyone to us unless we agree not to seek the death penalty because they consider the practice barbaric.

Some crimes are so heinous, however, that it seems to me that removing the offender from the face of the earth is the only reasonable thing to do. If you sentence that offender to life in prison without parole, what guarantee do you have that some future parole board will not decide to let that person walk free?

I guess the thing that tips the scale for me is that "you cannot unring the bell." Cynthia Sommer can be released from prison and will go free tonight. If she had been executed...

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