John Allen Muhammad, the DC Sniper is asking the Supreme Court to halt his execution set for November 10. He proclaims the government is murdering an innocent black man. His lawyers assert his incompetence to stand trial and present his own defense. Trained law enforcement personnel could not have competently concocted a more elaborate killing spree than John Muhammad. Nope, nothing was wrong with his mind during his killing spree. In fact, Muhammad was a mastermind who initially out smarted federal, state and local law enforcement. Muhammad according to co-conspirator John Lee Malvo randomly killed people like people perform random mindless tasks. That does not make him anymore incompetent than someone who goes on a thoughtless random shopping spree. The handmade car for murder had holes in the trunk for him and Malvo to shoot out and kill people. Hitler couldn’t have done a better job of killing people. The gun, hand tailored car and co-conspirator’s statements of the killings and his alleged elaborate scheme to kill his wife while terrorizing DC support his competence. Once arrested and preparing for trial, he exhibited mental illness symptoms according to his lawyers. I guess there’s nothing like staring at the death penalty to make one go insane and become incompetent.
Unfortunately, John Muhammad’s madness makes him a poster child for the death penalty proponents. But there are truly innocent and incompetent persons who have been executed. Many innocent and incompetent persons are still waiting to be executed. Statistics show the death penalty should be reviewed, reconsidered and repealed for all the non-John Muhammads who are truly innocent or incompetent. There have been over 130 exonerations nationwide. This means that for every 9 executions, one person is exonerated nationwide. Flaws in death penalty cases often consist of false eyewitness accounts, false confessions, contaminated evidence, lack of DNA and misconduct of police personel and forensic DNA experts. In Maryland, a former inmate spent 9 years in jail and on death row due to 5 eyewitnesses false testimony. He was released through DNA evidence. In reverse, false DNA evidence contributed to the deaths of 11 persons nationwide. In Maryland, forensic experts have forged credentials, committed perjury and contaminated evidence according to a report. Of equal concern is the racial bias. The death penalty is disproportionately aimed at African Americans. There are almost 50% blacks on death row yet African Americans make up only 12% of the population. Clearly, something is wrong with this picture.
For every John Muhammad there are hundreds unlike him who are true victims of the death penalty system. Executing even one innocent person is far too many. Should John Muhammad be put to death? Murdering even one calculating, competent and callous John Allen Muhammad is still not worth keeping the death penalty alive.