Jeffrey Landrigan will die for the 1989 murder of Chester Dyer. Landrigan – who had just escaped prison, where he was serving time for another, unrelated murder -picked Dyer up off the street and went back to Dyer’s apartment. Once there, Landrigan strangled Dyer to death.
After being arrested (again), Landrigan stood trial for Dyer’s murder. During this trial, however, Landrigan stopped his lawyer from presenting potentially life-saving evidence. With nothing but damning testimony, the Judge sentenced Landrigan to death.
Realizing his mistake and eager to live, Landrigan hired a new legal team and appealed:
A new lawyer, Dale Baich, appealed, arguing that Landrigan did not receive a competent defense and that Landrigan might have received a life term instead of a death sentence had his trial lawyer submitted evidence that he was predisposed to violence and suffered brain damage that made him unable to appreciate his crimes.
The Arizona courts weren’t having it. Thus, the case landed at the Supreme Court yesterday.
Unfortunately for Landrigan, the court wasn’t having it and ruled that he will, in fact, die for his crimes. Clarence Thomas wrote in the 5-4 ruling:
The Arizona court’s determination that Landrigan refused to allow the presentation of any mitigating evidence was a reasonable determination of the facts.
While certainly Landrigan deserves to be punished for murdering Dyer – and his other victim, too – we’re not convinced taking his life will even the odds. First of all, the state doesn’t have the implicit right to take its citizen’s lives. Further, sitting in a dank, undoubtedly unnerving prison cell for the rest of one’s time seems like a better punishment. Or, at least, a bigger challenge for the criminal. Killing them just makes it all go away. Festering’s a much better alternative – and far more humane.
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