Saturday, November 8, 2008

Another Death Penalty Case

An 8-year-old is being charged with first degree murder. Do you think that finally even the most adamant capital punishment proponents will admit to mitigating circumstances? Where the mental insanity of the criminal doesn't budge, where the abusive childhood doesn't phase, can we expect the age of this defendant to finally soften those hard hearts?

CNN reports on this horrible incident which took place in Arizona.

It's a crime that police officers in a small eastern Arizona community can hardly fathom yet have to deal with: an 8-year-old charged in the fatal shootings of his father and another man.

On Friday, a judge determined there was probable cause to show that the boy fatally shot his father, Vincent Romero, 29, and Timothy Romans, 39, of San Carlos with a .22-caliber rifle. The boy faces two counts of premeditated murder.

FBI statistics show instances of children younger than 11 committing homicides are very rare. According to recent FBI supplementary homicide reports, there were at least three such cases each year in 2003, 2004 and 2005; there were at least 15 in 2002. More recent statistics weren't available, nor were details of the cases.

On The Gun Guys blog, which I'm going to have to visit more often since they seem to share some of my own feelings, there's this comment which I might have written myself.

Unfortunately, the AP story did not give any details about the rifle itself, who owned it, what make and model, and more importantly, how an 8-year-old boy was able to gain access to it.

The availability of guns, once again seems to be an issue here. In spite of the passionate denials on the part of some of our commenters, I continue to be unconvinced. What is their defense, that there are a million gazillion guns out there and the tragic incidents are rare? Is it that guns in the hands of responsible people do more good than the harm done by the irresponsible? Or have I missed something?

The other issue in this story is, of course, the death penalty. I don't imagine that the blood thirstiest of capital punishment lovers would want the death penalty in a case like this. But what about the 12-year-old? Where do we draw the line with age? I admit it's a tough call. And what about the abusive childhood like Skyler had and so many others? Does that count for nothing?

What's your opinion? About gun availability, I honestly don't know. About capital punishment, I'm against it.


  1. how on earth do you raise a child such that he kills two adults at age eight, apparently deliberately no less? something must have gone horribly wrong in those eight years; i wish we knew what it was.

  2. From what I read the parents were abusive.

    Do you see a parallel with an abusive parent also doesn't seem to care much about a young child finding a loaded gun?

    This story is rotten to the core, and more of an exception that proves the rule over all else.

  3. It just occurred to me, isn't it pretty hard to kill someone with a .22? Don't you have to shoot them just right? How could a kid do that not once but twice?

  4. It's HARDER to kill somebody with a .22....but they kill sure enough.

    This hardly outside of the realm of possibility.

    Really the problem with .22s is not how deadly it is (I've said before the .22 LR cartridge is the most underrated cartridge in American culture, and I say that because people CANNOT treat a .22 any different than they would a .30-30, or a .50 BMG) But that it can be an unpredictable cartridge. It can punch through bone...or it can be deflected by it. It can mushroom out, fragment, or stay solid, all with very different results.

    If a kid can get his hands around a gun, and has the malice to kill once, I have no doubts that multiple kills would hardly be a stretch.

    There are several military-issue .22 Pistols (because they can be suppressed to VERY quiet levels)and in the first James Bond books, Bond carried a Beretta .25 ACP (A round slightly less powerful than modern .22 LR) because that was what Ian Flemming carried back in his days of Navy Intelligence.

    Hardly a "pop gun". Not something I'd trust my life with, but also not something I would underestimate when I'm handling one, or if I ever found myself on the wrong end of one.