Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Accidental LWOP

What do you say to a man who died in prison?  

Sometimes it's LWOP when the don't mean it to be.

The latest example? This guy.
He's Donald Craig.  Sentenced in separate trials in 2004 and 2006 to be murdered after DNA tied him to the 1996 rape and murder of 12-year-old Roseanna Davenport and to the 1995 rape and murder of 13-year-old Malissa Thomas.  He died of natural causes Friday in the Corrections Medical Center in Columbus.  His appeal from the Thomas case death sentence was scheduled for oral argument in the Ohio Supreme Court on January 22.  He was 52.

So the hangman was cheated.  Two sentences of death.  Kill him! Kill him again!

But no.  Death in prison.  LWOP by chance.  He's just as dead, of course.  But we didn't get to kill him.  

Not in our name.

His death made the news around Ohio today.  Reporters spoke with Jerry Davenport, Roseanna's father. Phil Trexler for the Akron Beacon Journal.
“Hearing that he died, well that just made my day,” Davenport, of Barberton, said. “It lifts a big load off my shoulders. . I’m just glad the guy’s gone and out of the picture.”
I understand the sentiment. Not closure, but finality.  

For Jerry Davenport, it's finally over. Had Craig not died, had he survived to fight his death sentence for years to come, there'd be none of that.  So now it's done and Jerry Davenport doesn't have to hear any more about the man who destroyed his little girl.

But how horribly sad that Craig's death "just made my day." To hear of death and kick up one's heels.  To take joy in pain and sorrow.

I never represented Donald Craig.  I don't know his family or his friends.  I don't know who will mourn or how much sorrow his death will bring.

I don't know what his medical condition was, whether he was in pain, whether he had control of his faculties, whether he wanted (or would have wanted) to die.

And, as I say, I understand Jerry Davenport's sentiment, even if I can't share it.

Because a man is dead. The sentence was murder, but he cheated the hangman and got it commuted to LWOP, to death in prison.

Which is what he got. Albeit by accident.

In my business, we call that a win.  Which tells you something else about this whole damn thing.

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