I don’t often like to take up the cause for a violent criminal, let alone a career criminal, but when our penal system is being abused. . .

A man who has already served 15-ish years in prison for shooting a police officer and related offenses is now 71.   He shot a police officer in 1966 and was tried for attempted murder.  The officer died in 2007 from complications related to his paralysis which was caused by said gun shot wounds.  After the defendant got out of prison for attempted murder, it appears that he became a repeat offender of some sort and when he was arrested for murder of the same individual because of the subsequent death in 2007, he was picked up from a half way house on his way out of the penal system.

Some people think that people who shoot cops should be put away forever.  That is one point of view, but the justice system in this country does not automatically work that way.  The complications from the forty year old gunshot are alleged to have caused a Urinary Tract Infection that was the proximate cause of death.  The case may hinge on medical testimony about causes of infections and why paralysis from a gunshot would would put a person at a higher risk of having a Urinary Tract Infection.  What if the deceased merely failed to drink enough cranberry juice one day?

Regardless of the merits of the case, the judge in the new murder case has ruled that the case can go forward in spite of the very long interval between the injury and the death.   There is a major moral problem with this case going forward.  The U.S. Constitution prohibits trying a person for the same crime twice.  Also, traditionally there has been the “year and a day” rule at common law that said when the victim dies after that interval of time it is presumed that the initial injury was not the cause of death.

While the defendant in this case may be a career criminal, it is at the very least a violation of the spirit of the law to charge him with murder when he has already completed his prison sentence for attempted murder.  On the legal side, there are questions of whether he should be sentenced according to the penalties back in 1966, or if the year and a day rule was on the books back in 1966 and the subsequent changes to the law in 1996 are illegal as an ex-post-facto law (also prohibited under the U.S. Constitution for criminal violations and punishments).

Maybe his prior prison sentence will be considered credit for time served if he is again found guilty and sentenced.

It is very sad that a rookie police officer at the age of 23 was shot, wounded, and paralyzed for the rest of his life and that kind of injury can never be paid for really.  That is why we have a justice system with set rules and punishments.  Now that the police officer died over forty years later, it is not proper to go back and charge the same individual with murder.

Comments Welcome

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