Friday, May 14, 2010

It's time to resume Arizona death penalty

Great article by Tim LaSota in the Arizona Republic Tuesday -

Through a series of legal maneuvers, death-row inmates and anti-death-penalty activists have succeeded in grinding the wheels of justice to a halt in Arizona with a 10- year hiatus on executions, except for one killer who wanted to be executed.

Fortunately, the Arizona Supreme Court will decide next month whether to allow the resumption of the death penalty. It's time for the justices to put a stop to the endless appeals and let justice be done.

On May 20, the Supreme Court will consider whether to issue a death warrant for Donald Beaty. Many here still remember Beaty's victim, 13-year-old Christy Ann Fornoff. In 1984, Beaty abducted Christy while she collected for her Phoenix Gazette paper route, then raped and strangled her. Beaty dumped Christy's body behind the garbage dumpster at his apartment and later attended her funeral.

Twenty-six years on death row is way too long - it's time for Beaty to go, and the Supreme Court must issue a death warrant for him.

The Supreme Court will also decide the fate of Jeffrey Landrigan. Landrigan was already in prison for murder in Oklahoma when he escaped in 1989. Chester Dyer had the grave misfortune of meeting Landrigan, and Landrigan strangled him in his own apartment with an electrical cord. Twenty-one years of appeals is already too long for this two-time murderer. It's time for his sentence to be carried out.

Daniel Cook may also soon be facing a death warrant. With the help of an accomplice, Cook raped, tortured and murdered a roommate and co-worker, Carlos Cruz-Ramos. When another co-worker, Kevin Swaney, came to check on Cruz-Ramos, Cook raped and murdered him, too.

Twenty-two years after being sentenced to death, Cook's time has clearly come. The Supreme Court must act to finally impose his lawful sentence.

With the horrors inflicted by these monsters, it's difficult for many of us to accept that much of the delay in bringing them to final justice is because of an argument over whether lethal injection constitutes "cruel and unusual" punishment.

Many people would laugh at the argument that a relatively painless execution with a needle is an unconstitutional sentence.

These killers have had their day in court. Actually, they have all had more than two decades in court. The time has come for all of them, and justice demands that their death sentences be carried out. Let the punishment fit the crime.

Timothy La Sota is chief of staff to the mayor of Scottsdale and a former special assistant deputy county attorney.

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