Friday, August 19, 2005

No Death Penalty for the BTK Killer? As I read last week about the sentencing hearing for Dennis Rader, the BTK murderer, I was interested to see life sentences and not death penalties. I checked on that and found that last year the Kansas Supreme Court struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional.

I found reading the reports on the sentencing hearing painful, because they went into some detail on who and how he killed. Frankly, I could not complete reading those articles. If there ever were a case for imposing the death penalty, this would be it, whatever your views might be on that sort of sentence.

In light of this case, it does not bode well for the "independent judiciary" that the lack of a death penalty in Kansas arises from judicial action and not legislative action. I have seen no mention in the MSM of this issue, that the BTK judge could not impose the death penalty because of what the state's supreme court earlier held, and I am waiting to see the issue mentioned elsewhere. Perhaps I missed it. In any event, it adds fuel to the fire that is beginning to break out about how insulated judges are from the reach of the democratic process.

Let it rage.

Update and Correction: No death penalty applied in the BTK case because the crimes occurred prior to Kansas' 1994 death penalty law. It was the 1994 law that the state's supreme court held unconsitutional last year. The Kansas death penalty law prior to 1994, enacted in the 1970s, had been held unconsitutional under the US Supreme Court's decision in Furman va. Georgia. See a history of Kansas' death penalty laws here. The Furman case dealt with a Georgia death penalty case, but it overturned the death penalty statutes of every other state in the union. So there was no death penalty for murder in Kansas at the time of the BTK murders. We cannot know whether that made any difference to Rader as he dealt with his victims or contemplated whether to commit his crimes in the first place.

By the way, accorinding to at least one report, Rader was a church going Lutheran.

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