I imagine the producers of these debates get together with the hosts afterwards and give notes, as they do in the theater. And I strongly hope they suggested to Brian Williams that, following Governor Perry’s ode to Texas justice, a follow-up question might have been nice….
It’s hard to imagine Mr. Williams and/or the producers were not familiar with The Texas Tribune’s database of all the executions in Texas under Perry’s leadership, including capsule summaries about some of the most controversial.
The summaries should be read in full, but I will excerpt just the first one to give a taste of what “ultimate justice” means in Texas.
Kelsey Patterson was sentenced to death for the September 1992 shooting deaths of Louis Oates and Dorothy Harris in Palestine.
Testimony showed that without provocation, Patterson walked up to Oates, 63, the owner of Oates Oil Co., and shot him. He shot Harris, 41, when she came out to see what was going on. Patterson then went to a friend’s home nearby, stripped down to his socks and waited in the street for police to arrive.
Dr. James Grigson, a psychiatrist and popular prosecution expert witness who earned the label “Dr. Death” because he rarely found defendants too mentally unfit to face the death penalty, told jurors Patterson was sane at the time of the murders. At trial, Patterson testified at length about devices the military had planted in his head.
From prison, he sent incoherent letters to the courts, including a 2004 letter to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, in which he wrote that he wanted to “conduct my legal work needed to stop the execution murder assaults injury execution date murder machines grave graveyard murder …”
Shortly before his execution on May 18, 2004, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended that Perry grant clemency, which Perry rejected. He worried that if he commuted the sentence, Patterson might be released on parole. Patterson’s last statement was a final testimony to his mental condition: “Statement to what? State what? I am not guilty of the charge of capital murder. Steal me and my family’s money. My truth will always be my truth. There is no kin and no friend; no fear what you do to me. No kin to you undertaker.”
Ta-Nehesi Coates has a good response, and an extremely re-tweetable one at that, reminding us of the bi-partisan nature of death penalty boosterism:
Apparently people were shocked by the applause here. The only thing that shocked me was that they didn’t form a rumba line. [!!!!!] It’s a Republican debate. And it’s America. Perry’s right–most people support the death penalty. It’s the job of those of us who oppose the death penalty to change that.
It’s worth remembering that no Democratic nominee for the presidency in some twenty years, has been against the death penalty.
This is still the country where we took kids to see men lynched, and then posed for photos. We are a lot of things. This is one of them.
Also, Ricky Ray Rector ring a bell?
And maybe this is a good place to remind people that the current president has, like his predecessor, granted unto himself the right to kill anyone on the planet, even American citizens, without even the faintest whiff of due process.
And typically these executions in distant lands do not involve lethal injections. They are more along the lines of missile attacks on the targeted person, as well as anyone who is unlucky enough to be in the general vicinity.
Fifty innocent victims for every successful hit. Makes Perry look pretty benevolent in comparison….
So let’s not get all “OMG what if this guy becomes president!” Please. In some respects, this guy already is.