Jan. 7, 2014 was an oddly chilling Florida day in the history of a frequently demented U.S. criminal justice system, coincidentally related to the plastics industry.
In this case, the injustices began in the entrepreneurial paper and plastics packaging manufacturing industry with a company named Sydney Bag, 39 years, 5 months and 24 days earlier.
Thomas Knight, who had been employed by the company for 10 days, kidnapped his employer, Sydney Gans and Lillian Gans, coerced them under gunpoint to drive to the family and business bank, withdraw $50,000, and then took them to a field where he shot and killed both.
For decades, the Miami Herald has tracked the irrational decision-making by trial, appellate and Florida Supreme Court justices whose sense of "justice" comes obviously from creative fiction writing courses.
According to the newspaper, a jury convicted Knight in 1975 and judge sent him to death row and while there, he killed a corrections officer. While his execution was scheduled in 1981, Knight objected, saying he hadn't had his trial for the correction officer's murder.
After being convicted of that crime too, a federal appeals court threw out the Gans death sentence, ruling Knight should have been allowed to present character and background witnesses during a penalty hearing, the newspaper reported
Character and background witnesses? Really? We're to take these "justices" seriously?
To get a sense of how senseless it became with stay after stay after stay — for 39 years, 5 months and 24 days — get your Google on. The Jan. 7 ABC News report after Knight was finally executed reported this: "The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his final appeals, but Justice Stephen Breyer said in a dissent he would have granted a stay to hear [Knight's] claims that it may be unconstitutional to execute an inmate after such a long time on death row."
How to describe that? Not demented; not irrational; not stupid. Got it: moronic. Yup, in the context of what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Gans, the extended Gans family, the prison guards, their family members and the other victims of Thomas Knight, to even say in jest one is willing to consider "granting a stay to hear claims that it may be unconstitutional to execute an inmate after such a long time on death row," can be nothing more credible than moronic. That's fit for a "Saturday Night Live" skit, nothing more.
The Villages, Florida