Justice Samuel Alito of the Supreme Court just halted the execution of Russell Bucklew, 46, a pathetic looking chap shown on the left. Russell is set to fry for his actions 18 years ago when he 28 years old. He’s not a nice guy and he complains that if his execution is botched up he might end up living in a permanent vegetative state unlike his present condition confined in prison for the rest of his life with “tumors growing in his nose and throat, he bleeds from his eyes and ears and he has constant pain in his face that requires pain medicine every few hours.”
Russell’s not one of the good guys. But his murder of Michael Sanders was caused by his intense jealous rage that his long time girl friend Stephanie Ray had dropped him on of all days, Valentine Day, for Michael. She kicked him out of the trailer they had live in and he went home to live with Mom and Dad. He threatened Stephanie who in fear of her life left her trailer with her children to live with Michael and his children in his trailer. Russell found out where they lived; he went there armed with handguns; Michael came out with a shotgun; but Russell was as Murderman Martorano would say a little too quick for Michael and he murdered him; he then took Stephanie in handcuffs in his car and took off; while holding her captive he raped her. The cops caught up with them and after a short gun fight in which a state trooper and Russell were wounded, Russell was captured.
Missouri figured a guy like that deserves to be executed. Judge Alito, a very conservative guy, has some problems with that. So he is telling Missouri to hold off until he and his fellow Supremes think it over some more.
I’ve got little sympathy for Russell Bucklew nor do I oppose the death penalty. However, you got to admit that a guy or gal in the roils of passion is not thinking too clearly. Anyone who has fallen heads over heals for another person knows the torment when the other takes a Dixie. Does it justify Russell’s actions, clearly not; does it mitigate them, perhaps; does Russell deserve to face “the dread of something after death” or go off to “the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns,” we may argue over that and all have a reasonably justifiable position.
We must then ask what is the greater crime: a murder committed under an insidious influence such as passion, alcohol, drugs, paranoia, or one that is pre-planned and committed in cold blood. In Massachusetts influences that affect the ability to properly premeditate a crime can reduce it from first to second degree murder so it would seem the professionally planned murder is more egregious. An example of that would be the ones allegedly committed by Dzhokhar (Joker) Tsarnaev. Another, those committed by Whitey Bulger, John Martorano, Stevie Flemmi and friends.
We know what happened in Boston under the federal prosecutors. Men who planned and participated in murders were not executed but were in a sense rewarded. But it wasn’t one murder, it was upwards of twenty murders. One did about six months for a murder; another a year a murder; and some were not even charged even though they were clearly participants in the planned murders of others.
The prosecutors justified their actions suggesting if the person did not confess they would not have known about the murders. That of course is utter nonsense since the right amount of pressure on their associates could have given them the same results. The idea that to get a body means you have to give the murderer a deal seems to undermine the idea of justice. It just encourages those intent on planning murders to ensure they hide the bodies well so that they can make a deal in the future.
The ultimate question is how in a country where we are supposed to have equal justice under the law can we be executing some people for one murder and be giving others a short time in prison, if that, for murders which on their face are much more egregious than the one murder guy.
I have no idea what is bothering Justice Alito about the planned execution of Russell but perhaps this is a time for him to consider the erratic manner in which we punish murderers in this country.