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As long as there is a death penalty in the United States, as long as the government persists in the barbaric practice of having the state kill those convicted of the most egregious murders, as long as the government continues to kill by lethal injection, there will continue to be egregious, shameful, disgraceful, inhuman, unfathomable executions.

Last week it was the Virginia execution of Teresa Lewis, a woman with a 72 IQ who was not the shooter in the double murder that led to her execution on Thursday.  The two male gunmen each received life in prison.  Little, whose guilt was never in doubt, pleaded guilty, waived her right to a jury trial on punishment, and to her then attorney's surprise, was sentenced to death by a judge without a jury.  The judge said she was the "head of the serpent."  I wrote that if this execution was justice, justice was an ass.

And now Georgia plans on executing Brandon Rhode on Monday.

Rhode, too, committed a horrendous, brutal multiple murder.  Rhode killed two children and their father in the course of a burglary.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution described the crime:

Rhode... and a partner, did not set out to commit murder when they broke into the Jones County house of Steven and Gerri Ann Moss on April 23, 1998, according to trial testimony.

Their plan was to commit a burglary.

But 11-year-old Bryan was murdered when he came home from school, then his 15-year-old sister, Kristin, and then their 37-year-old father, Steven Moss....

Bryan Moss was the first to come home.

The boy could see the two men through a front window as they were ransacking the house. The boy, armed with a baseball bat, came in through the back, but he was subdued by Rhode and Lucas, who were armed.

They put him in a chair as they discussed what to do with him. They were still talking about their options when Lucas shot the boy in the shoulder.

Moments later, Kristin Moss was seen coming up to the house, so Lucas took Bryan to a back bedroom while Rhode waited for the boy’s sister.

Rhode put her in the same chair and shot the teenager twice.

Simultaneously, Lucas, in the back with Bryan, shot the boy again.

Rhode shot and killed their father when he got to the house.

Then the partners shot the Moss siblings several more times to be certain they were dead.

There was never a serious dispute that Rhode was guilty of the crime, and Georgia was scheduled to kill Rhode was scheduled by lethal injection.  According to a CBS report, Rhode tried to kill himself on Friday before the State of Georgia could kill him:

A federal judge has refused to block tonight's scheduled execution of a Georgia death row inmate who attempted to commit suicide on Tuesday, the day he was originally to be put to death.

According to court filings, 31-year-old Brandon Joseph Rhode used a razor to slash his elbows and his neck, which caused him to go into traumatic shock. Authorities say Rhodes may have also suffered brain damage as a result of immense blood loss.

Rhode was stabilized after his attempt and he's since been put in a restraining chair to prevent him from pulling out the sutures on his neck or doing any other harm to himself, a state attorney said.

Rhode's execution had already been rescheduled to 9:00 a.m. Friday after his suicide attempt, but the state moved his execution back 10 hours to 7:00 p.m. Friday, to allow for several appeals to work their way through the system, says corrections spokeswoman Sharmelle Brooks.

The execution has now been scheduled for Monday.  And Georgia has reportedly put two additional guards on Rhode, so that nothing further will disrupt the state's killing him as scheduled.  So in Rhode's case, the state finds itself saving Rhode's life so that it can strap him on a gurney and kill him by lethal injection.

There's a grim irony to this.  Some prisoners condemned to death "volunteer" to be executed.  They withdraw all of their appeals, they tell their lawyers not to seek a stay, they tell prison officials to schedule their execution.  They give up.  And they are killed.  There are many reasons that this happens, and it happens frequently.  Chief among the reasons for "volunteering" are the dehumanizing conditions on death row and the knowledge that eventually the state will succeed in killing by lethal injection.  Prisoners just give up.  That kind of suicide is acceptable on death rows across the country.  It is a common occurrence.  In fact, the list of those scheduled for execution released by various abolition organizations puts an asterisk next to these "volunteers" names, or states they are volunteers.  That kind of suicide is permissible.

But Rhode's suicide evidently is not acceptable.  He didn't create a legal framework for the state to kill him, he tried to do it without the state's participation.   He tried to do it himself. And this, of course, could not be permitted.  So now we have the spectacle of Georgia having saved his life, having stitched him up, having strapped him to a chair, having assigned additional guards, for what? So that Georgia can kill him in our names on Monday.

Put another way, Rhode had no regard for the lives of his victims.  He has no regard for his own life.  And now, because of the intervention of Georgia prison authorities, we are about to reduce ourselves to his level: we too have no regard for his life.

Yet again, the death penalty reduces all of us to the lowest common denominator of barbarism.

cross posted from The Dream Antilles, docuDharma, Stars Hollow Gazette

Originally posted to davidseth on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 08:53 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Please: no more state killing. (17+ / 0-)

    End the death penalty.

    Thank you for reading.

  •  Conservatives / Death Penalty and abortion (9+ / 0-)

    It's worth noting that conservatives are always reminding us that the government can't do anything right, and should not be trusted.  Yet when it comes to profound moral issues like the death penalty and abortion, they are more than happy to give big government free rein.

    Regulate banks, not bedrooms

    by Eagleye on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 09:09:47 AM PDT

  •  Another cruel twist of fate.... (7+ / 0-)

    To deny a prisoner health care is cruel and unusual punishment.  To deny the general public health care is capitalism.  

    Don't tax the rich, starve the poor.

    by dkmich on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 09:17:41 AM PDT

  •  This is not justice. (8+ / 0-)

    No society that does this has any standing to call itself civilized.
    This is the greatest wrong that we do as a society: to compromise our own values in the name of underscoring them.
    It is a staggering hypocrisy.
    And, as you say, I object, in the strongest possible terms, to these acts being committed in my name.
    Not in my name, damn you.
    Never in my name.

    If you want to fight and die for my right to sit here and bitch, sleep with whomever you want.

    by kestrel9000 on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 09:18:24 AM PDT

  •  i AGREE (0+ / 0-)

    Lets get him healthy. And since he has not killed anymore kids while he has been in prison, he must be, by logic, a model prisoner. therefore, being a model prisoner, he is rehabilitated and should be released into the public.

    preferably in the diarists neighborhood.

    sorry, but execute the bastard.

    i can only imagine the horror the victims experienced.
    yet, people feel sorry for this waste of a life.

    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." ~ Mark Twain

    by VoiceFromIowa on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 09:42:39 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for the provocation. (8+ / 0-)

      Nobody said he should be released.  Nobody said he was a model prisoner.  Nobody said he was rehabilitated.  Nobody said they felt sorry for this guy.  This is about us. It's about us killing people in our names.

      The point, which I repeat here even though it should be quite clear from the diaryk, is that whenever you have state killing, you will have these kinds of disgraceful, abominable circumstances.  That's an argument for abolition of the death penalty.

      •  yes, saving his life just to execute him is (0+ / 0-)

        perversity to the extreme. they should just have left him to bleed out. then the matter would be closed.

        "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." ~ Mark Twain

        by VoiceFromIowa on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 09:57:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm with you... (0+ / 0-)

      Not even considering the harm someone serving life( with nothing left to lose) may do to a fellow prisoner or guard...these monsters need to die. The scumbags that killed UNC President Eve Carson just got life and were spared the death penalty. Take it from someone that knows, prison isn't the worst place in the world, I'm sure all those starving in Africa would love three hots and a cot and the oppurtunity to spend the rest of their lives kickin back not working, but playing cards, watching TV, playing basketball in the yard etc... With all the social injustices in the world and the many problems facing this nation I cannot fathom how so many of you dedicate anytime or passion to this particular cause. What's wrong with you people?

      •  There is nothing "wrong" with me. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Situational Lefty

        You put up a provocative but fundamentally irrational comment.  You like epithets: monsters, scumbags.  You set up the false equivalency of prison idleness with third world poverty.  You set up the fake dichotomy that being concerned about state killing somehow detracts from activistm on other issues of importance.  It doesn't.

        Just to be clear: the reason why "so many of you dedicate any time or passion to this particular cause" (ending the death penalty) is because it is a barbaric, disgraceful, inhuman activity.  That doesn't mean we don't work on other issues. It just means that we see the death penalty as an abomination.  You disagree, fine.

        But I'm curious.  Does your remark that you're "someone that knows" about prison mean you're a correctional officer?    

  •  It's a brutal lottery. (0+ / 0-)

    One man lives; another dies. And it's all a big game. Either execute all murderers or none. Anything in between is a travesty and has absolutely no deterrent value.

  •  Rhode was one of my students for a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davidseth, DParker

    short period of time a few years back.  He was not very interested in school, but his peers seemed to like him.  He didn't cause any problems while he was at the school, and he wasn't even enrolled for a full semester.  He just suddenly withdrew from school one day.  When I asked the kids about it, they said he'd moved to Jones County where this crime was committed. We were all in shock when we found that he had committed this crime.  Some of the kids who had known him for a longer period of time said that he was persuaded to burglarize the Moss' home by the guy who was with him.  I don't know what the real story is as to why Brandon got involved in this, but I do know that I don't believe in the death penalty.  The local paper,, reported yesterday that Rhode's lawyer said that a guard gave him the razor, but this has not been confirmed.  Ga might be the place of Family Values (or so the "majority" says it is,) but it is also a state that is full of those who call for the death penalty for most crimes in spite of their "c"hristian values.  

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