Three True Strange Short Stories Concerning a Sentencing, a Plea Deal and, an Execution
Mr. Robert W, described by prosecutors as a “deranged fiend” who kidnapped, raped, brutally tortured and nearly murdered a Columbia University graduate journalism student in 2007, was sentenced on July 24, 2008 to 422 years in prison. The sentence was the maximum allowed by New York law. His victim was not in court at the sentencing. She wrote a letter to prosecutors stating that she was “afraid to go outside.” The victim narrowly survived her ordeal of being kidnapped, raped, sliced with a butcher knife, scalded with boiling water, drugged to the brink of death, having her lips Krazy glued together and then left for dead tied to her burning living room couch. Mr. W attempted to opt out of the sentencing hearing but was carried into the hearing by six helmeted, shield carrying state court officers. Mr. W had already spent most of his adult life in prison.
Prison is surely where Mr. W belongs and it appears that he did everything he could to make sure that he would get back there for life.
Then there is the story of Tremayne D, 36, of Portland, Oregon who was sentenced to life in prison with the chance for parole after thirty years. Mr. D was sentenced for the murder of one Adam Calbreath, over a business deal that had gone bad. Instead of going to trial Mr. D availed himself of a very unusual plea deal offered by the prosecutor. He had sat in jail almost two years awaiting trial and missed the greasy food he liked to eat. So, when the prosecutor offered him a fast food buffet in exchange for his guilty pleas Mr. D admitted he had shot Calbreath.
His buffet deal included gorging himself on KFC and Popeye’s chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, carrot cake, a pizza, two calzones, lasagna and ice cream. The judge readily signed off on the plea deal and Mr. D downed the food at two settings. The cost to the Oregon taxpayers was only $41.70. A murder trial would have cost the state at least $4,000.
This was certainly one way to take a bite out of crime.
Finally, there is the story of the Ohio murderer who tried to avoid being executed by claiming that he was too fat for the State of Ohio to give him a lethal injection. Richard C, who at 5 foot 7 tipped the scales at 267 pounds, was scheduled to die in October 2008. He had argued in numerous legal challenges that his weight problem would make it difficult for prison staff to find suitable veins to deliver the deadly chemicals, a problem that had delayed previous executions in the state. Mr. C, who had been convicted in the 1986 murders of two University of Akron students, spent 22 years on death row. Mr. C was 75 pounds heavier on his execution day than when he went to death row – the result of prison food and 23-hour-a-day confinement. His execution was carried out in October 2008, without problem.
It appears that the prison’s head chef was much too good to Mr. C. One would think that the prevailing wisdom would hold that one should lose weight on death row and not gain.
Leonard Birdsong is a 3-time professor-of-the-year at Barry University School of Law and former U.S. State Department diplomat with assignments in Nigeria, Germany and the Bahamas. He worked as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. and private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in trial work in both criminal matters and asylum cases. He also provides legal commentary on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. He also appears as a legal commentator on CBS radio and Fox radio news. Professor Birdsong is the author of several books comprising the Weird Criminal Law series and can be reached via http://www.BirdsongsLaw.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or at LeonardBirdsong.com.
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