Sunday, September 09, 2007

Taking the Guilt Out of the Death Penalty

"As far as I’m concerned, it’s just a job. They’re just a bunch of guys
trying to pay their rent.” --Daryl Holdon

Photo: Ángel Franco/The New York Times

Published: September 9, 2007


NASHVILLE


Daryl Holton shaved his head clean a couple of months ago. He thought he could retain some control in this small way. But he also wanted to save the corrections officers the trouble.

“I wouldn’t want them to leave with a feeling of guilt,” he says, speaking from the other side with his hands and feet shackled. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s just a job. They’re just a bunch of guys trying to pay their rent.”

His head needs to be shaven; his legs, too. That is because, not long ago, he marked an ‘X’ beside a sentence on a document handed to him here at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. That sentence read: “I waive the right to have my execution carried out by lethal injection and choose to be executed by electrocution.”

The crimes that Mr. Holton committed 10 years ago are so horrible and sad that it hurts to read even the most dispassionate description: he shot and killed his four children, ages 4, 6, 10 and 12. Two at a time, through the heart, after having them cover their eyes and asking them not to peek.

Was he punishing his ex-wife for obtaining an order of protection against him, as the state suggests? Or, as his defenders argue, was he depressed and temporarily insane, reasoning that his children were better off dead than to be raised by a mother with a history of alcoholism and abandonment?

Wouldn’t you have to be mentally ill to kill your own children?

REPLACE THESE THREE LINES WITH THE REST OF YOUR POST
LEAVE THE SPAN and BR and id="more" TAGS WHERE THEY ARE
(If there IS no "REST OF YOUR POST" then DELETE both the SPAN tags, and the ID tag)




“In his mind, he killed his children
out of the highest possible moral reasons,
as odd as that might sound,”
says Kelly Gleason, a defense lawyer.



Now, after all the motions filed in his behalf, often against his will and without his participation, and after the years of speculation about why he did what he did and does what he does, Daryl Keith Holton, 45, of sound body and court-determined competence — a supporter of the death penalty, by the way — is scheduled to be killed by the State of Tennessee on Wednesday morning, one o’clock.

To be electrocuted, by choice: this slender man sitting now in a room as small and stark as a confessional, his darkened teeth in need of repair, his voice raised to be heard through the Plexiglas that separates the free from the condemned. Articulate and wry, he speaks with a deference — If I could; If you don’t mind — that masks the slight condescension of someone experiencing what few can imagine.

The preferred method of execution in this country is lethal injection, based on the educated guess that it is more humane — at least when properly administered. In that context, the electric chair seems a gruesome relic from the last century, an incremental step up from the noose. Old Sparky. Throw the switch and the lights flicker, as warning to us all.

Ten states still permit its use, depending on the circumstances, although Nebraska alone provides for no other option. Here in Tennessee, where the electric chair has not been used since 1960, the law says that if you are sentenced to death for a crime committed before Jan. 1, 1999, you may choose to die sitting up, or die lying down.

“You have a lot of argument nowadays that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment, by a number of my neighbors in here on death row — at least by their attorneys,” Mr. Holton says. “To be honest with you, they are both probably effective and painless methods of execution.”

He smiles the small smile of someone sharing an inside joke; it is not a smirk. “I’m using the word ‘probably’ because any evidence regarding that is going to be hearsay,” he says, then adds, “It’s rare that someone lives to tell about” — here a chuckle escapes — “how an execution felt.”

Point taken. But why the electric chair?

“It’s not very intellectual,” he says. “At the time of the commission of the offense, that’s the punishment that was in place. That was the law.”

His answer reflects the strangely ethical code by which he lives, one that may reflect his many years in the Army, or perhaps the external order he needs to corral some internal chaos. He abhors frivolous appeals, and refuses to accept the privileges he has earned as a model inmate. When he came close to being executed last year, he declined a special last meal, and ate what other inmates ate that night: a turkey-and-cheese hoagie.

Kelly Gleason, a lawyer with the state’s Office of the Post-Conviction Defender, sees a sad consistency in his thought process. Ms. Gleason has visited Mr. Holton two dozen times and considers him a friend, even though he counts her among the “well-intentioned do-gooders” who have waged, and lost, various legal battles to save his life.

“I would describe him as a highly ethical, moral person with a rigid moral code, who acts in accordance with that code,” she says. “In his mind, he killed his children out of the highest possible moral reasons, as odd as that might sound.”

Robert Blecker, a professor at New York Law School who supports the death penalty in some cases, disagrees. He has met and spoken with Mr. Holton several times as part of a self-appointed mission to extract remorse from the condemned man. So far his mission, videotaped and audiotaped for posterity, has failed.

“I think he’s not ceding, or seeing, that he committed a monstrously despicable crime,” Mr. Blecker says.

Time is nearly up. Corrections officers begin to hover. Hurriedly, Mr. Holton is asked whether he believes that he deserves to die for what he did. He answers in a way that continues to keep imminent things in the abstract.

“I’m taking myself out of the equation,” he says. “What I would say to you is that someone convicted of four counts of first-degree murder, with the aggravators that were found in my case, the aggravating circumstances — yes, that conviction is worthy of the death penalty.”

As Mr. Holton rises, his shackles chime. He says as he goes, “And good luck in your future endeavors.”

Audio excerpts from Dan Barry’s interview with a death row inmate:
nytimes.com/danbarry.

7 comments:

Jerry said...

cheap wedding gowns,
discount bridal gowns,
China wedding dresses,
discount designer wedding dresses,
China wedding online store,
plus size wedding dresses,
cheap informal wedding dresses,
junior bridesmaid dresses,
cheap bridesmaid dresses,
maternity bridesmaid dresses,
discount flower girl gowns,
cheap prom dresses,
party dresses,
evening dresses,
mother of the bride dresses,
special occasion dresses,
cheap quinceanera dresses,
hot red wedding dresses

传斌 said...

replica Watches
replica Watches
replica Watches
fake Watches
knockoff Watches
replica Rolex Watches
replica Breitling Watches
replica Cartier Watches
replica Omega Watches
replica Tag Heuer Watches
replica Bell & Ross Watches
replica Panerai Watches
replica IWC Watches
replica Patek Philippe Watches
replica Chopard Watches
replica Gucci Watches
replica Corum Watches
replica Montblanc Watches
replica Jacob & Co Watches
replica A.Dunhill Watches
replica A.Lange & Sohne Watches
replica Alain Silberstein Watches
replica Audemars Piguet Watches
replica B.R.M Watches
replica Baume & Mercier Watches
replica Blancpain Watches
replica BMW Watches
replica Breguet Watches
replica Burberry Watches
replica Bvlgari Watches
replica Chronoswiss Watches
replica Concord Watches
replica D&G Watches
replica De Witt Watches
replica Dior Watches

Anonymous said...

Replica Handbags
Fake Handbags
Knockoff Handbags

Replica Louis Vuitton Handbags
Replica Gucci Handbags
Replica Chanel Handbags
Prada Handbags
Replica Fendi Handbags
Replica Dolce Gabbana Handbags
Replica Chloe Handbags
Replica Jimmy Choo Handbags
Replica Thomas Wylde Handbags
Replica MiuMiu Handbags

Replica Balenciaga Handbags
Replica Coach Handbags
Replica Lancel Handbags
Replica Hermes Handbags
Replica Marc Jacobs Handbags
Replica Anya Hindmarch Handbags
Replica YSL Handbags
Replica Mulberry Handbags
Replica Givenchy Handbags
Replica Valentino Handbags
Replica Versace Handbags
Replica Cartier Handbags
Replica Marni Handbags
Replica Bottega Veneta Handbags
Replica Loewe Handbags
Replica Kooba Handbags

Replica Bally Handbags
Replica Burberry Handbags
Replica Christian Dior Handbags
Replica Juicy Couture Handbags
Replica Ferragamo Handbags
Replica Celine Handbags

Adi said...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa pages. Thank you So much.
Oes Tsetnoc | Semangat Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa

Anonymous said...

bed region method
[url=http://vimeo.com/user4498961]price hotels
[/url]protection scoop
alteration in the lake area
booking airline tickets
[url=http://www.earthday.org/users/48490]cheap hotels near disneyland
[/url]china hotel booking
hotel jobs
burleigh heads accommodation
[url=http://www.fairview.org/cty/members/klemot/default.aspx]best hotel prices online
[/url]book hostel
reduced accomadation
affordable bed
[url=http://www.youthcabinet.org/profile/Josh]pensioni hotel
[/url]airline booking codes
economy lodging
deviation booking
[url=http://www.beautyresearch.com/blogs/alexa/archive/2010/08/15/hotels-and-accomodations.aspx]hotel ville
[/url]michael gray the weekend
inn base
lodging vegas deals
[url=http://www.mazdacommunity.com/profiles/blogs/special-hotel-offers-or]cheap nyc hotels
[/url]booking of motor hotel
vociferate booking
cheap london company houses

Anonymous said...

prices on hotel
hotel champs elysees
hotel price match
name my price hotels
hotels pensionen
relais hotel

Anonymous said...

www online gambling star
free casino games online
baccarat casino
bankrupt due gambling
sweepstake computer gambling supplies new location
mirage guest-house casino las vegas
mighty slots online casino
top gambling strategies
fiesta resource casino costa rica
machines gambling
trustworthy online casinos
california hotel casino
online casinos taking amex
on line casinos usa
california super lotto addition biography outcome
casino online poker slot
atlantic casino play online
likeliness rolling review reckon 4 8 two dice
keno slots online casinos
horse racing casino online gambling
pro football betting odds
statistics online gambling
play casino online slot
indian casino locations
free oracion gambling
online slots millionaire casino
Jeux gratuits en ligne multijoueur poker
gambling roulette
Online casinos no deposit codes
arnold snyder blackjack forum
online gambling ohio
gambling sports books
dr ho online casino