Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 203
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for August 21, 2003

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

I wonder why the County is so intent on asking for the death penalty for Raymond Wood? So much so that they're willing to engage in what the judge ruled (according to several area papers) was "coercive government misconduct." K.C. Star, Sedalia Democrat While the crime itself may theoretically justify the death penalty, media coverage of Wood’s mental history could lead one to believe that pursuing a death penalty case would be both like high cost and high risk.

Death penalty cases cost more. When the accused is defended by a Public Defender, the taxpayer has to pay the costs of both sides. If the defense needs experts, we pay for them. We pay for the prosecution's experts, as well. Then, if he's convicted, we'll pay for the appeal process. Death penalties are getting an extremely close look these days, especially when there's reason to believe the individual may not have adequate mental capacity. The investigation would be scrutinized more closely now that a confession has been thrown out for "misconduct."

The risk our county is taking is that in a jury trial, an insanity defense may very well prevail. Then, Wood could be free when the psychiatrists decide he's sane again.

I'm not entirely opposed to the death penalty; I think it's appropriate in cases like the D.C. sniper, murder committing a robbery, or similar cases – but only if the individual's guilt can be shown beyond even an unreasonable doubt. Whether one favors or opposes the death penalty in general, applying it in this case would be revenge, not justice. I'd suggest our prosecutor save us a lot of money and hassle by negotiating a plea bargain that will ensure Wood is removed from society for a significant amount of time.

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