It's Tuesday night and Texas is looking to kill again...
CHRISTOPHER YOUNG. Mr. Young was sentenced to death in 2006 for the murder of a San Antonio convenience store owner. His lawyers said religious discrimination occurred during jury selection when a black woman was ruled ineligible to serve because she belongs to a church that has a prison ministry. The victim's son has asked the state to spare Mr. Young's life. Mr. Young's attorneys urged Gov. Abbott to halt the execution to consider their allegations that race was a factor in the refusal to grant Mr. Young clemency. They said a white man with a situation similar to Mr. Young's was recently spared (Click here to read about Thomas Whitaker's case). The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down Mr. Young's request for clemency.
Just like in the case of Thomas Whitaker, a relative of the victim, in this case his son, has asked the state not to kill. However, in Mr. Whitaker's case, the Board voted unanimously to grant clemency and the governor agreed. The difference? Thomas Whitaker is white and Christopher Young is black.
In defending the Board's decision not to grant clemency in Mr. Young's case, Assistant AG Stephen Hoffman points out that Mr. Young pulled the trigger in his case while Mr. Whitaker merely set the murders in motion. This raises a couple of other questions. First, should we be killing folks who took part in a murder but didn't actually pull the trigger? Second, what's worse: pulling the trigger or hiring someone else to do it?
This case does illustrate a unique aspect of criminal law. When the alleged victim or victim's family wants the defendant punished a certain way (jail instead of probation, for instance), the DA is only too quick to cut off negotiations because of the opposition. But, when the alleged victim or victim's family doesn't want the defendant punished harshly -- or sometimes, not at all -- the DA is quick to point out that he or she represents the State, not the victim. Go figure.