Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Killing Cory

Well, Stanley "Tookie" Williams is dead. Guilty or innocent? He stood by his claim of innocence to the end, and who knows -- maybe they did get the wrong guy. Then again ...

Red -- You're gonna fit right in. Everyone in here is innocent. Heywood, what're you in here for?
Heywood -- Didn't do it. Lawyer fucked me.

-- from The Shawshank Redemption

For some reason, apart from my general opposition to capital punishment (which pretty much comes down to "I can't trust politicians to deliver mail on time; why the hell would I trust them to decide who needs killin'?"), I didn't find "Tookie's" case exceptionally compelling. Maybe if I'd studied the case more closely I would have, but I let it go by because ... well, pretty much because a lot of people more prominent, more educated in the facts of the case and more interested had already taken it up. So. Anyway. Another state-sanctioned killing under the bridge.

Next up in the queue -- not necessarily for execution, but for catching public attention because he's eventually going to be -- we have Cory Maye of Prentiss, Mississippi. This one's a no-brainer: Middle of the night. Man, asleep with his young daughter nearby, hears someone breaking into his apartment. Intruder charges into the bedroom. Man kills him.

But ... the intruder was a cop -- as a matter of fact, he was the police chief's son. He'd busted into the wrong side of a duplex while on an official mission to kidnap someone and steal his stash (i.e. "he was executing a search warrant for drugs"), and the occupant of the place he mistakenly burglarized was armed. Oops.

Is it just me, or does this sound like perfect material for the "he needed killin'" defense?

Well, to make a long story short, black men who kill white burglars in Prentiss, Mississippi are pretty much screwed, at least when the white burglars are cops and/or the progeny of solid citizens, and at least when an all-white jury gets its panties in a wad because the defense attorney invokes the wrath of God as a potential consequence of doing something stupid like convicting an obviously blameless defendant.

So, Cory Maye sits on Death Row (presumably at the prison known as "Parchman," vividly described in John Grisham's death penalty novel, The Chamber), because he defended himself and his daughter from the wrong burglar.

Ain't right.

For a more detailed, coherent account of the case, I suggest The Agitator.

For a number of other blogospheric weighings-in, keep an eye on BattlePanda.

What to do? Steve Gordon at Hammer of Truth has it right: Contact the governor of Mississippi and let him know that Cory Maye doesn't deserve to die. Be respectful, guys ... whether you want to or not. There's a life on the line.

Update, 12/14: I expect Free Market News Network to publish my "open letter" to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour some time soon -- and in anticipating linking to that, I forgot to link to their other excellent piece on Cory Maye's case, "Tookie Lives? Maye Should Walk Free." Sorry for the omission. Link love is a good thing.

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