Jan 21, 2011

In Death Penalty Cases, Who Pays the Ultimate Price?

The linked article above is one that I found in the blogosphere while I was researching the Donnelly Jewelery store murder trial. The article centers more upon the death penalty than the Donnelly case per se, but it delves into some of the core issues regarding the murders, the trial, and whether or not Chris Dimeo, the 28 year old who stands accused of the murders, should get the death penalty for gunning down two innocent people, long time married owners of a small Jewelery store, that was a long standing fixture in the town of Fairfield Connecticut.

As a Fairfield resident, these murders ,which happened in 2005, really hit home. Almost everyone I know seemed to know-and love the Donnelly's. They have and had a reputation as lovely, caring and considerate people, as well as helpful and personable business owners. To this very day, I wear around my neck a white gold Celtic charm on a simple but sturdy chain, a gift from a friend who happened to purchase the necklace at the Donnelly's Jewelry store just months before their brutal murders.It turns out after a bit of research that the Celtic symbol means everlasting life; my friend who simply loved the design, was unaware of the particulars of its exact translation;

 In retrospect this special gift became to me a statement about the Connelly's, as it is clear they who were so special in life, shall always live on, in the many ways that they touched other peoples lives.

And so we find ourselves circle back to the original issue at hand; Tim and Kim Donnelly were good people going about their daily lives as responsible business owners, spouses and parents: they had the terrible misfortune of being in the determined and allegedly desperate path of heroin addict and thief, Christopher Dimeo. Twenty three at the time of the murders, Dimeo was the son of another heroin addict - his mother who actually drove the getaway car for another jewelry store hold-up that turned fatal (the manager was shot and killed) in New York city, crimes for which Dimeo ultimately plead guilty to and received a life sentence.

Dimeo who was caught and arrested in NY and tried there for the Jewelry store robbery/murder which had occurred months before the Donnelly crimes. He and his lawyers fought extradition to Connecticut to face the Donnelly charges, for they knew that Connecticut, unlike New York, has a death penalty for capital punishments of a certain aggravated type and given the double murders that occurred during a robbery and the pre- meditative evidence and testimony, he was likely to face a death penalty sentence if tried in Connecticut for his crimes here.

Finally. almost six years later, he is now answering for the murders of Chris and Mark Donnelly.

The trial is underway and is reportedly at the stage where the Jury is soon to be deliberating their verdict, after which the Judge has stated that he will impose a shirt hiatus for the jury, and then, they will begin the sentencing phase of the trial, where it will be decided whether Dimeo gets life in prison or the death penalty.

And this is where things become very touchy, both amongst the general public, and our states legislators.A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 69 percent of Connecticut residents support the death penalty for certain capital murder cases. Our Conn l;egilsators saw fit to write a bill to abolish the DP last year, initially citing cost saving measures as the main reason, and then quickly segueing into the atypical moral issues against it. Then thrown in for good measure was that it wasn't a good deterrent anyway" false but also irrelevant. Its job is not to be a deterrent. Shall we get rid of prisons because they are clearly not a deterrent for many a criminal mindset? The bottom line is that at that time a majority of legislators in the house and less so in the senate were greatly at odds with what the people of this state want for ourselves insofar as the most important issue concerning violent crime and public safety and yes that word again - Justice.

Several high profile murders in the state that have brought this historically volatile issue to the forefront of our collective conscience. All of the People in the linked article queried would seem to feel strongly about this issue one way of the other - there is very little apathy or noncommittal " I'm just not sure..." . The latter we probably would have seen much more of had our state not lived through the trauma of a handful of particularly brutal awful murders and sexual assault/murders.

I have been an independent and a democrat most of my adult life and as such most people assume that I will be anti-death penalty, but this assumption based on an age old entrenched view of what a liberal is supposed to be like. I am also a believer that the party system in politics has had nothing but a divisive effect on this country's government to the point where it has literally handcuffed the smattering of dedicated politicians, who truly want to impart positive change in this world.

My point is to put the politics aside with such important and challenging issues as the Death Penalty.
 I have seen both Democrats and Republicans wrestle with the humanitarian issues involved with the concept of putting someone to death for committing particularly brutal and cruel murders. But I have noticed that within our state legislation there is a decidely democratic cadre that seems to oft be saying' lets get rid of this "barbaric -and expensive capital punishment"     And Yet...I cannot help but consider that if any of these horrific "Petit family": type of rape  murders were to happen to these same legislators and or thier families, how quickly their personal resolve and committment to abolish the Death Penalty-would buckle?

And this is the most valid question that should be posed to one-self when truly considering what they believe what they think -and what they feel is right for the people of this State insofar as reserving the right to pursue the ultimate penalty for the very worst of our states murders.