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Friday, March 04, 2005

The Cold-Blooded Murder of So Much More . . .

At the age of 17, when he was still a junior in high school, Christopher Simmons . . . committed murder. About nine months later, after he had turned 18, he was tried and sentenced to death. There is little doubt that Simmons was the instigator of the crime. Before its commission Simmons said he wanted to murder someone. In chilling, callous terms he talked about his plan, discussing it for the most part with two friends, Charles Benjamin and John Tessmer, then aged 15 and 16 respectively. Simmons proposed to commit burglary and murder by breaking and entering, tying up a victim, and throwing the victim off a bridge. Simmons assured his friends they could "get away with it" because they were minors.

The three met at about 2 a.m. on the night of the murder, but Tessmer left before the other two set out. Simmons and Benjamin entered the home of the victim, Shirley Crook, after reaching through an open window and unlocking the back door. Simmons turned on a hallway light. Awakened, Mrs. Crook called out, "Who's there?" In response Simmons entered Mrs. Crook's bedroom, where he recognized her from a previous car accident involving them both. Simmons later admitted this confirmed his resolve to murder her.

Using duct tape to cover her eyes and mouth and bind her hands, the two perpetrators put Mrs. Crook in her minivan and drove to a state park. They reinforced the bindings, covered her head with a towel, and walked her to a railroad trestle spanning the Meramec River. There they tied her hands and feet together with electrical wire, wrapped her whole face in duct tape and threw her from the bridge, drowning her in the waters below.

By the afternoon of September 9, Steven Crook had returned home from an overnight trip, found his bedroom in disarray, and reported his wife missing. On the same afternoon fishermen recovered the victim's body from the river. Simmons, meanwhile, was bragging about the killing, telling friends he had killed a woman "because the bitch seen my face."

--from Roper v. Simmons, 2005 Lexis 2200 (opinion by Justice Kennedy)

I honestly am at a complete loss for words.

I, of course, was merely kidding when I wrote on Wednesday that a person ought to commit a murder before they turn 18. In fact, I found this to be the worst case scenario possible.

While I support limiting the application of the death penalty to juveniles, it should never allow an otherwise mature and calculating 17 year old to escape the consequences of his actions.

Never never never would I have imagined that the Supreme Court relied upon THOSE VERY SAME FACTS to make this decision.

Kennedy pointed out that 30 states do not allow the death penalty for juveniles. In a UNION of FIFTY STATES, however, I hardly consider 30 a mandate. 30?

The fact that 30 states subscribe to certain principles only evidences a sharp division in national consensus.

That fact should never be used by FIVE LONE INDIVIDUALS to impose on an entire 250 Million People that which they BELIEVE is right.

Perhaps the most worrisome part of the opinion, however, is that Kennedy has effectively negated the will of the Legislatures of 20 States in this Union and the will of the people they represent . . . and replaced it with the will of the "International Community."

By citing a U.N. Resolution calling for the banning of the death penalty for those under 18 and expressing a wish that the US conform itself to the actions of Foreign nations, Kennedy wants to lecture us on individual rights.

Let me tell you, Justice Kennedy: When with one fail swoop of your pen you have effectively silenced me and removed my vote-- and you did it so that we might be more like the "International Community" -- you have NO GROUNDS upon which to conduct a serious dicussion on individual rights.

It is NOT a testament to the strength of the Constitution that you and your four accomplices can apply Foreign Law to change American social policy. That is the weakness of the American judiciary.

I hope you go to bed tonight with the words of 17-year-old Christopher Simmons echoing in your mind: "I killed her because the bitch seen my face," but that's okay because we're only 17.

Again, I say: ConLaw is short for absolutely nothing.


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