Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Why Sammy Flippen’s Death Sentence Is Unfair

The actions of the prosecutor in Sammy Flippen’s case show that the death penalty is disproportionate. Prior to Mr. Flippen’s retrial, the state offered to permit Mr. Flippen to plead guilty to second degree murder. When Mr. Flippen declined this offer, the state sought the death penalty. Were this case to happen today, it is extremely unlikely that Mr. Flippen would face execution. In 2001, the General Assembly changed the law, giving prosecutors the discretion not to seek the death penalty in a first degree murder case. Since 2001, numerous cases involving tragic murders of children have been declared noncapital and the offenders sentenced to life. Just in the last two weeks, a man in Charlotte pled guilty to stabbing his
two daughters to death. David Crespi was sentenced to life imprisonment. Meanwhile, in Orange County, the prosecutor announced he would not seek the death penalty for Jamie Wilson. Ms. Wilson has been charged with the first degree murder of her daughter who died of injuries suffered when she was placed in scalding hot bathwater.

The governor has the power to ensure that the death penalty is applied evenhandly and not in a haphazard and arbitrary fashion. By commuting Sam Flippen’s death sentence to life imprisonment, the governor can help restore public confidence in the fairness of our justice system. Your legislators must also decide how they are going to deal with this deeply flawed system.

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