Next time someone asks why it takes so long to execute a person, please hand them this blogpost!
This case was built on the strength of one "eyewitness" who turned out to be to frightened of the police to tell the truth. Not a shred of physical evidence tied Ruben Cantu to the murder for which he was put to death. The laws of evidence kept his codefendant who knew the true killers identity from telling the jury the truth. His defense team failed to look for the one witness who could have set things right while on appeal and worst of all the prosecutor who tried the case now admits that he was wrong to proceed on with a death penalty prosecution of an eighteen year old learning disabled child with only a one witness ID case. The chance for error is just to great.
On the day he was killed by the "great" state of Texas his mother stood outside the jail where they killed her baby. She held a lighted candle for him and wept. Then she said "He is resting now, he's free. He should have never been here in the first place."
The article details a case that is rife with police misconduct. No one will be prosecuted for that. There will probably be no trial for those that failed to live up to their duty to the public. No one will pay for the Murder of Ruben Cantu.
We, the American Public can pay this debt forward however. We can tell our representitives that the Death Penalty in America costs too much especially if it means that our states and nation will kill just one innocent citizen. We can tell them that even though it seems to some that Murderers have "too many rights" (a lie but most of us do not understand this)we want to make sure mistakes do not happen so we will agree that we will not kill anyone with death qualified juries. The jury will be made up of a cross section of our population and that may just include people who think it is morally wrong to kill anyone just as it will include people who do not think it is all that bad to kill the wrong person. We will require a modicum of physical evidence and not allow juries to even consider a death penalty where it is based on eye witness, snitch and confession alone. (The three biggest non-lawyer reasons for wrongful convictions are eyewitness ID which are so often bad for so many reasons it is a topic for another column, snitches who are basically paid for the testimony the prosecutor likes and confessions which are so often the result of really abusive police work.)
Maybe we should consider some other reforms such as better funded defense attorney's and investigators. How about full discovery with depositions well before trial. And why don't we legislate away the concept of harmless error in Death Penalty cases. If someone is going to die, an error is not harmless.
Of course we could actually make this even easier. We could acknowledge that our prisons are so state of the art that we have the ability to keep society safe from even the most henious prisoner, and we could do what most of the rest of the civilized world has already done. We could just do away with the death penalty. Government should just not be in the business of killing one of it's own citizens, or any other nation's either.
That is what I think, what do you think? Leave a comment here or go to http://www.colleluorilaw.com and leave us a private message there.