LIFE. Plus at least 1000 Years

So Mr. Castro took a deal and avoids the death penalty.  I don’t think anyone thinks that he is innocent, and I don’t think anyone believes that he deserves less than life in prison.  I am writing about this case, because I am curious to know what people’s current opinions are on the death penalty.

Living in Texas, I am used to hearing about people being executed and sent to death row.  At least in Austin, the sentiment is still mixed about whether we should still have the death penalty on the books.  There are many arguments for it and against it, which will not be explored in this post.  Interestingly though, is it’s usefulness in this particular instance.  After reading the story, it is said that the victims in the case did not want to have to testify in court.  Presumptively, they also feared the media circus that would surround the case.  By Castro taking the deal, it only spared his being sent to death row.

But what if the death penalty was not on the books?  

Every Criminal Defense Lawyer has been in the position where they are the only one of their client’s side.  Many times their family, friends, and society has abandoned them.  They have sometimes done some pretty horrible things.  It is still the defense attorney’s job to fight to make sure that they are treated fairly by the justice system.  Knowing this, and taking any knee jerk reactions out of it, it is very difficult to believe that things would have ended very different in this case had the death penalty not been an option.

From the outside at least, this move by Castro only saved him from the death penalty.  Assuming that it was his complete, and fully informed decision, there is a value that was gained by pleaing Guilty.  If death penalty were off the table, then there is not logical reason to plea guilty.  If this were the case, and the prosecution wanted to respect the wishes of the victims to not have to testify, they would be forced to offer something only slightly better than life in prison.  That raises a whole new set of issues, because it would have to be an offer that gave Castro hope of getting released from prison.  The prosecutors in the case could also have just kept the offer the same, and had the trial anyway.  This would have drawn out the already lengthy life of torture for these women.  Their faces, testimony, and story would be front page news for months, if not years to come, and who really would benefit from it?

Maybe there is a benefit to having the death penalty at least on the books, even if it is to be a bargaining chip for the state.

You can read the entire story by clicking here, or by clicking the link below.