As the country prepares to honor its military veterans on November 11, it may be a sobering and surprising revelation that roughly 10 percent of Death Row inhabitants are military combat veterans.
In 1995, James Davis walked into the Asheville tool manufacturing plant from which he had been fired a few days earlier and fired about 50 shots that killed three employees: Gerald Allman, Frank Knox and Tony Balogh. By the time of the murders, everyone who knew Davis believed he was deranged. The victim of a savagely abusive father, Davis had been placed in foster care as a teen. He had never received treatment for symptoms of serious mental illness that plagued him for most of his life, nor had he been treated for the trauma he endured during two combat tours in Vietnam. In the years before his crime, he lived in almost complete isolation, talked to himself and shot at imaginary groundhogs in his yard. At his trial, he had to be so heavily medicated that his speech was slurred and he could not hold a coherent conversation. Despite his clear mental incompetence, Davis was tried and sentenced to death.
James Davis survived the shrapnel wound he suffered in Vietnam, earning him a Purple Heart. He received the Purple Heart on Death Row.
Courtney Lockhart, is an Iraqi war veteran now on Alabama’s death row. Lauren Burk, 18, of Marietta, Ga. was was kidnapped from a campus parking lot at Auburn on March 4, 2008, after visiting her boyfriend. Prosecutors said Lockhart forced her to disrobe and shot her in the back as she tried to escape from the moving vehicle, then left her to die.During the trial, defense lawyers argued that Lockhart was mentally troubled and didn’t mean for the gun to go off, he just wanted to rape her . The victim’s father, Jim Burk of Marietta, made an emotional appeal asking Walker to overturn the jury’s recommendation of a life sentence. Recalling his daughter’s final moments, he described Lockhart as a coward. “You killed her, she’s not here, and you are here. That’s the bottom line,” said Burk, adding that Lockhart still has his own daughter.
Seated at the defense table, Lockhart responded loudly. “Don’t bring my daughter into this. You are not going to bring my daughter into this,” said Lockhart, wearing a loose-fitting dark suit but no handcuffs or shackles. “I’m sorry for your whole family.”
Burk responded quietly: “I wish you hadn’t brought my daughter into it.”
Lockhart’s mother screamed out and cried when the judge sentenced her son to death by lethal injection.
“Thefirst person executed in 2015 was decorated Vietnam veteran Andrew Brannan. According to Dieter, he qualified for 100 percent disability from the Veterans Administration due to his PTSD and bipolar disorder. In 1998, a police officer pulled Brannan over in Georgia for speeding and asked him to get out of his truck. He started acting bizarrely, dancing in the street and asking the cop to shoot him. He then pulled a rifle from his own car and killed the officer.”
U.S. military veterans make up about 10 percent of inmates on death row and courts are not doing enough to consider post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a mitigating factor in sentencing, a study released on Tuesday said. Read more at Reutershttp://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/10/us-usa-execution-idUSKCN0SZ0C420151110#m0ducVzMpsYJ1Iag.99
About 300 of the roughly 3,000 inmates on America’s state and federal death rows are military veterans and the majority suffers PTSD from serving in the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf wars, according to the study from the Death Penalty Information Center, which is opposed to capital punishment but whose data is used by those on both sides of the debate. The study was based on data from states holding half the U.S. death row population. Read more at Reutershttp://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/10/us-usa-execution-idUSKCN0SZ0C420151110#m0ducVzMpsYJ1Iag.99
I understand that people who serve in wars often bring home with them the psychological damage associated with prolonged exposure to the tense and hostile environment of war but I want to look at the situation from the victim’s side as well. The idea that “mercy” should be extended to the executioner of an 18 year old just because he “wanted some sex” and then the gun “went off” is beyond comprehension and my “bleeding heart”. By the way, he had enough sense and empathy to yell at the father of the girl he killed not to mention HIS daughter in the equation……
People commit crimes for various reasons, blaming it all on the war is about as senseless as saying “the devil made me do it”. Mental illness is often exacerbated by trauma and this trauma might be inflicted from serving in a war. After reading some of these stories of the people on death row, the unifying features of many would be their selfish depraved hearts. For some people, the inability to feel shame, have a conscience or comprehend the disaster and hurt that they inflict by their actions on other people’s lives. War is hell, but it does not justify excusing the hell of destroying other people’s lives.
In the case of Lockhart, race was the added dimension to PTSD and his case was “heralded” by many in the liberal media. As usual, anything to get off…… BUT these facts remain: Lockhart stalked Lauren Burk, he kidnapped her, forced her to undress, then shot her as she tried to escape. He left her to die bleeding and naked on the side of the highway, then torched the car he killed her for. Then, he went on to assault an old lady in a parking lot, showed no remorse for either crime. Race has nothing to do with it. And neither did PTSD.
What do you think?