My most recent speech last week was on the #death penalty and why it is #unethical. Here is the short version of my speech:
Let's start by defining the
word ethic. According to Mirriam-Webster Dictionary ethic means rules
of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad. The
majority of society lives by an ethical code with morals and values.
Values are what are right or wrong.
According to the #American Bar Association in Missouri,
virtually all murder cases qualify for the death penalty. Please keep this in mind throughout my
entire speech. According to #Fox News in #Missouri
there have been 5 executions within the last 5 months. One of these executions was of #Joseph
Paul Franklin, a self proclaimed racist who attempted murder on #Larry Flynt,
the publisher of Hustler Magazine, and #Vernon Jordan, a civil rights
activist. He successfully murdered my
cousin #Gerry Gordon in cold blood in front of his three young daughters and
wife. Joseph Paul Franklin was executed
in November 2013 for the murder of my cousin.
My family was glad the ordeal was over.
Some were pleased he received the death penalty and others were
indifferent. A statement that Joseph
Paul Franklin made while incarcerated was, “if
you let me out I will kill again.” Did
he deserve the death penalty?
1980, a young man by the name of #Quinton Moss was murdered on the corner of
Sarah and Olive in the City of St.
Louis. The man
accused and convicted of the murder was #Larry Griffin who received the death
penalty and was executed 10 years after his conviction.
2001, a man named #Kent Heitholt was murdered in front of his place of
employment in #Columbia Missouri.
The young men accused and convicted of the murder were #Charles Erickson
and #Ryan Ferguson. Charles Erickson ultimately
received a 25 year sentence behind bars and Ryan Ferguson got 40.
Larry Griffin and Ryan Ferguson were tried under the same legal system as
Joseph Paul Franklin, all were convicted of murder, two got the death penalty
and two were executed. Only 1 was guilty!
Larry Griffin’s innocence was proven by the NAACP (National Association of Advancement
For Colored People) and proved his case was built on circumstantial evidence. Ryan Ferguson proved his case was built on
circumstantial evidence and his innocence.
Ryan has since been freed from prison while Charles Erickson is still
serving his sentence while trying to prove his innocence. Remember that virtually any murder case in Missouri qualifies for
the death penalty. Ryan’s case could
have gone in the same direction as Larry Griffin’s.
In both Larry Griffin’s and Ryan Ferguson’s case it has been proven that
there was misconduct by law enforcement.
When a lie is told from the beginning it carries over to trial like a
domino effect. The jury only knows what
law enforcement and in some cases the prosecution wants them to know. How can a person who takes an oath to uphold
the law and protect society knowingly lie about a crime and live with it?
The #Innocence Project, innocenceproject.org, claims to have proven 316 people
innocent through DNA and 18 of those served time on death row. How
can we impose the death penalty on someone who may be innocent? In order to get it right we would have to
make the legal system error proof and while human error is always possible in
any case we would have to abolish human error.
Humans are not perfect and we will always make mistakes.
To conclude I would like to quote Jennifer Joyce, St. Louis Circuit
Attorney, who said, “Every prosecutor
conceptually has the notion that someone innocent can be convicted. I’ve seen it firsthand.” Although some may deserve death as a consequence
for taking someone else’s life namely someone like Joseph Paul Franklin we must
abolish the death penalty to avoid the innocent from being put to death. There is proof, combined evidence and
reasoning, that from the very beginning of an accusation of a crime committed
human error begins whether it is intentional or not and it carries all the way
Remember Ryan Ferguson and Larry Griffin’s cases were built and tried on
circumstantial evidence. Neither of them
was at the scene of the crime when the crime was committed nor did either have
anything to do with the crimes. There
was no DNA, no fingerprint and no viable witnesses. There were witnesses that were not allowed to
speak and facts about each case that went ignored by the justice system we are
supposed to believe has our back and have been put in place to protect us. If this could happen to them it could happen
to you or someone you love. Death is final.