06 August 2008

Medellin Executed

In October of last year, I wrote about a man named Jose Medellin (though I misspelled his name previously). Mr. Medellin, a Mexican national, was convicted of taking part in the gang rape and murder of two teenagers in 1993. His conviction and death sentence was recently reviewed by the US Supreme Court on the grounds that Mr. Medellin was denied access to the Mexican consulate after his arrest. The Court refused to stay his sentence, despite President Bush’s request that the states review cases for 50 Mexicans on death row, including Mr. Medellin.

Yesterday, Mr. Medellin was executed, as well he should have been. He is not alone in deserving this fate. According to Fox News:

“One of Medellin's fellow gang members, Derrick O'Brien, was executed two years ago. Another, Peter Cantu, described as the ringleader of the group, is on death row. He does not have a death date.

“Two others, Efrain Perez and Raul Villarreal, had their death sentences commuted to life in prison when the Supreme Court barred executions for those who were 17 at the time of their crimes. The sixth person convicted, Medellin's brother, Vernancio, was 14 at the time and is serving a 40-year prison term.”

Yet some would have these men, theoretically, walking away from their actions. Lawyer Sandra Babcock is quoted as saying, “it's important to recall this is a case not just about one Mexican national on death row in Texas. It's also about ordinary Americans who count on the protection of the consulate when they travel abroad to strange lands. It's about the reputation of the United States as a nation that adheres to the rule of law.” I heartily disagree.

What consular protection should there be for gang rape and murder charges? If an American goes to, say, Singapore, should the US consulate protect him or her against charges of chewing gum, let alone against charges of gang rape and murder? Hardly. Those who claim that Americans abroad will be hurt by Medellin’s execution are living in a cloistered fantasy land. Indeed, strengthening American’s belief and trust in laws at home will arguably make them more mindful of local laws while abroad.

I have great contempt for all of this hand-wringing and legal gymnastics, all to “save” a convicted rapist and murderer. Surely our country would be in self-created jeopardy if we were to put Mr. Medellin’s civil liberties above those of the two girls whom he brutalized and murdered.

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