Guilty on all counts. That was the verdict rendered in the case of the two murdered young women I recently wrote about.
Stacey Ian Humphreys, 34, has now been sentenced to death by lethal injection on two counts of murder with malice. He also received several life sentences without the chance of parole on the other counts with which heíd been charged.
When my sister called to tell me of the verdict and of the sentencing, she sounded as if a great burden had been lifted from her shoulders.
Too, perhaps now, my nephew can close a chapter of his life thatís taken four long years to get through.
As for the trial, after all of the delays, the defense basically ended up arguing for mitigating circumstances in an attempt to lighten the load that was about to finally Ė and very rightfully - come down on their client.
Heíd been abused as a child. He had memory lapses and couldnít remember the murders. He had problems withÖand so forth and so on.
The defense was basically, "Waah."
Do please, cry me a river.
One of the appalling things that came out during the trial was the fact that he had forced both young women to disrobe during the robbery and before the murders. This was because he had read somewhere "that women could be controlled by making them undress during a robbery." In the end, however, even though they did everything he asked and put up no resistance, he still cold-bloodedly killed them both.
Whatever problems he had, they had nothing to do with planning.
The reason for the robbery?
Stacey Ian Humphreys needed money to make a payment on his truck.
My sister told me that the only time that he showed emotion throughout the entire trial was during a recess. That was when he broke down because his daily routine in jail had been disrupted by the trial.
Now that the trial is over and a death penalty has been given, though, an automatic appeals process begins.
I admit that there are times when I lean away from the death penalty. When I do, however, itís not because I think that such a penalty is either barbaric or immoral. Nor do I think that the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty "lowers" society to the same level as the accused.
Rather, when I have second thoughts as regards the death penalty, itís usually because of the seemingly endless appeals process, the costs involved, and the prolongation of the pain for the victimís family.
That said, I do believe there are cases wherein the death penalty is whatís called for. In the case of Stacey Ian Humphreys, it is precisely the proper (and long overdue) penalty.
This individual humiliated, terrified, robbed, and then killed two young women whoíd done nothing more than go to work on an otherwise normal day.
He did this in order to make a truck payment. Forget working more hours or taking a second job to cover the expenses heíd voluntarily incurred. Forget personal responsibility. Hell, forget anything that spoke of standing on his own two feet and handling a situation like an adult. Instead, he destroyed the lives of two young women and put two families through the agonies of the damned.
This was a crime that, as the father of one of the young women said, "deserved a terrible punishment."
So, is the death penalty appropriate here?
You bet it is.
Itís appropriate on the grounds that he wantonly took two lives. Itís appropriate on the grounds that thereís no doubt in anyoneís mind that he committed this crime. Itís also appropriate because it would be an insult to the families of the victims to have some part of their taxes used for the care and feeding of this individual.
Finally, I donít think of the death penalty as a deterrent. Frankly, I donít care if it is or not. What I do believe is that it is a just way of ensuring that no future harm can come to anyone (including inmates and guards) at the hands of this individual. And, if there were an express lane for appeals, Iíd hope that Stacey Ian Humphreys would be moved to the head of that line because the sooner heís sent to his final judgment, the better.
And if one day I have to explain myself to my creator on that last, Iíll do so without any equivocation whatsoever.