I’ve put this post off simply because it’s so affected me in a gut wrenching, visceral way. I know that a lot of people are against capital punishment. To be truthful, I lean away from state sanctioned killings myself in cases where a convicted criminal’s life hinges on forensic evidence. It’s too great a risk to hang on society and our, admittedly fallible justice system. However, this is not one of those cases.
On July 8th in Chesnee, SC, 48 year old Ricky Lee Blackwell, a man with a long criminal record, pulled 8 year old Heather Brooke Center from the car of his estranged girlfriend, put the child in a headlock, and SHOT HER FOUR TIMES including once in the head. Then the coward ran into the woods and gave himself a grazing wound in the stomach before being arrested. You can read the local news stories here, here, and here.
This crime was committed in broad daylight and in front of MANY witnesses, unfortunately including three of Heather’s little friends and a teen girl who was visiting. Little or no evidence exists to show that Blackwell knew the child before he pulled her out and killed her.
Late last week, Blackwell was taken from the Spartanburg Regional Medical Center where he was recovering from his self-inflicted wound. He was dressed in full riot bulletproof armor . . . except for his head.
I wonder what would have happened if someone had been on the roof of the complex with an M-40A3 Marine Corp sniper rifle loaded with five .308 caliber jacketed hollow point bullets and a 10x power scope. What would have happening if that person had put the crosshairs one inch above the bridge of Blackwell’s nose and applied 1.5 pounds of pressure to the perfectly tuned trigger of the rifle, sending a 220 grain jacketed hollow point through Blackwell’s sinus cavity and the brain behind. He, unlike his victim, would be dead before hitting the ground.
What would then happen if this shooter came down and surrendered to the police peacefully and without incident, went to arraignment, plead not guilty due to a perfect application of the “Texas Defense”, and went before a jury of twelve of his or her peers? Would this jury send this person to prison?
Before anyone brings it up, I understand the slippery slope of vigilante justice. I understand “innocent until proven guilty.” I realize that “An eye for an eye just leaves everyone blind.” I get all that. I also get that this man killed a child for no other reason that to inflict emotional pain on his ex-girlfriend. I also get that once this man is convicted, he will sit on Death Row in Columbia, SC for ten to twenty years as appeal after appeal works its way through “The System”. All that time will be at huge taxpayer expense. This man will end up not only inflicting tremendous emotional damage on the victim’s family, he will leave the state with a massive bill — much more than the cost of that bullet and rifle.
Something to think about, y’all. I know it’s eaten at me for a couple of weeks, but I know what I’d do in both cases. How would you vote if you were on the jury? What if you had the chance to pull the trigger?
Love y’all. Don’t forget to wash your feet.
If I were on the jury, that sniper would go free. After all, as my Papa would say, that child murderer “needed killin’.”
Would I pull the trigger myself? I don’t know. If one of my daughters was the 8 year-old girl who was shot…possibly. Would I convict someone else who did? I have long maintained that if I was on the jury of a case that involved a parent who killed their child’s molester or killer, they’d go free or I’d hang the jury. Now that I have two daughters of my own, I’m even more convinced.