By: Douglas Lee
Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Bush administration managed to send the trials of the Washington, D.C.-area sniper suspects John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo to Virginia–an act that will allow the death penalty in both cases.
A majority of the sniper’s victims were killed in Maryland, but under that state’s current statutes, Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the crimes, would be ineligible for capital punishment. Plus Maryland until recently had a moratorium on all executions that might have affected the outcome of the trials.
Virginia laws, on the other hand, gave Ashcroft and the prosecutors the opportunity to pursue death for both suspects in this trial, trying both as adults.
Muhammad, a 41-year-old Gulf War veteran with a 20-year history in the U.S. Army, and Malvo are charged with the shootings of 18 people and the killing of 13 in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, and Washington D.C. But in Virginia, new anti-terrorism statutes would allow the administration of the death penalty without proof of multiple murders or showing that Malvo was the triggerman.
Ashcroft showcased his true agenda in the pursuit of death. Despite the growing climate of concerns about capital punishment, Ashcroft has shown no concern at all about the flaws of the criminal justice system. Instead of addressing the need to help someone who allegedly committed a crime at an age where he was clearly susceptible to the external influence of a man trained to kill, Ashcroft ignored that issue and looked for a way to get an execution of a minor.
Bush and Ashcroft want to rehabilitate capital punishment with executions of the accused perpetrators of horrific crimes. But time has proven the death penalty does not prevent capital crimes.
This administration has proved again that it is more concerned with seeking vengeance than justice.