The killer of a 12-year-old Orange County girl who has spent 22 years fighting execution has died on death row, escaping what the victim's father termed "the justice the world deserved."
Thomas Francis Edwards, 65, died of natural causes Saturday at San Quentin State Prison's medical facility, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported Monday.
Edwards was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1981 shooting of Vanessa Iberri in Cleveland National Forest, where the girl and a friend, Kelly Cartier, were on a camping trip with Iberri's mother. Cartier also was shot but survived.
It's not possible to read this story and not feel compassion for the father of the victim. I was struck once again by the way he seemed to become obsessed with the murderer, following the trials and appeals, waiting for "justice." I suppose that's a common way of dealing with the unimaginable grief that must be involved in something like this.
A fascinating aspect is the failure to find a motive. In the lengthier article that Carol J. Williams published last November, there are more details, including the fact that Edwards had "spent 14 years as an adolescent and young adult at a Maryland correctional facility for sociopaths."
The Times article describes the controversy surrounding California's Death Row at San Quentin. It is the largest in the country housing 677 inmates and is badly in need of an overhaul. All executions were halted because of a problem that isn't limited to them.
The state had called off the execution of San Quentin inmate Michael Morales 10 months earlier after questions were raised about whether some of those executed by the three-drug formula had been fully anesthetized by the first injection before receiving a paralyzing agent and finally a dose of potassium chloride that stops the heart.
What's your opinion? I know we discussed it before, but I still find it weird that they keep talking about these chemicals. Do these people not know what every junkie knows? If you shoot up a little too much heroin that is a little too pure, you die. What is the big deal with this three-chemical cocktail?
What's your opinion on the death penalty? In a case like this, a man who probably suffers from some form of mental illness, is execution our best option? What do you think?
What about the father of the victim? What do you think about his way of dealing with the grief? He was quoted as having mentioned "justice" several times. Did it sound like justice to you or more like vengeance? It said he "cheered that his only child's killer was now burning in hell with Satan." Is all of this consistent with the Christian philosophy? Where does forgiveness come into it? Isn't that the true message of the Bible?
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