Not in our name

by YES! Staff

By all accounts, Scott Robert Speakman is not a good guy. In 1995, at 15, he was convicted in Baltimore of raping an 18-month-old child. Yes, you read that right — 18 months.

After being tried as an adult for that one, he served seven years in the Maryland Correctional Training Center. Upon his release in June 2006, he failed to register as a sex offender, essentially falling off the Hartford County, Md. Sheriff’s Department’s radar, at which point he became Forsyth County’s problem.

Less than six months later, Speakman was accused of strangling his landlord, 63-year-old Loyola Strader in her home, putting her body in a car, driving to Clemmons and then setting the car on fire with her body inside.

Though he has yet to be convicted of murder, prosecutor David Hall says he has surveillance video showing Speakman setting the car aflame.

We can all agree that Speakman has done detestable, things, and that he should answer for the death of Loyola Strader should he be convicted of the crime.

What do we do with a guy like this? Some see Speakman as the poster child for the death penalty, which is what happens in North Carolina when you commit a murder like this. And though we have long stood against the barbaric practice of capital punishment, even we are tempted to give in to our basest instincts and sing a little song as he is ushered to his date with the needle.

Speakman is a special case, not just because of the natures of his crimes, but because his attorneys, Vince Rabil and Clark Fischer, say that Speakman has demonstrable brain damage and attendant mental disability. It’s possible that Speakman does not understand the depths of his own depravity, the enormity of his actions. They filed a motion last month saying that executing Speakman would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

A judge will decide on Jan. 15 whether the state will go after the death penalty in Speakman’s case. We urge him to choose life imprisonment instead.

Our principles remain intact, even for Speakman, who is as loathsome as they come. Though admittedly this is a supreme test of our stance.

We take this position not because there is a chance that Speakman did not commit the crime. We think he probably did. Nor do we think he is particularly deserving of mercy. We don’t even think his mental state should come in to play, though that is the legal means necessary to save him from execution.

Because in the end, no matter what crimes a person is convicted of, we do not have the right to murder him in retaliation.

And when we kill in the name of justice, it says more about us than it does the convicted. YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration