Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Donald Beardslee - California

This is the first time I've had the state of California in italics in one of my post titles. This is true, of course, because for the first time in three years, California executed one of its over 600 death row inmates. Donald Beardslee was executed by lethal injection at 12:20am PST this morning. He died just nine minutes later.

Beardslee had filed several appeals and moved the governor for clemency. His last two appeals were denied by the United States Supreme Court earlier on January 18th. Governor Schwarzenegger also denied his request for clemency. Like many of those executed by our governments, Beardslee was no choir boy. There is no question that he committed two hideous murders. No one argued that he was innocent...or even "not guilty." However, there were serious legal questions about the application of the death penalty (under the laws of California) to Beardslee. Even if he knew right from wrong (as stated by the governor), doesn't his severe brain damage and the related ability of others to control and manipulate him decrease his culpability at least a small amount? Why was he the only one of the three involved in the murders to be given death? There is also the question of the chemicals used to paralyze. That is an overarching question. The chemicals certainly do paralyze the viewers from having to witness the body's true reaction to euthenization; however, what if they don't paralyze the man being killed? What if he can't move or speak but can feel? How is this different than the difficulties with hanging, the gas chamber, a firing squad or the electric chair?

California executes double murderer

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