The Shadow of The Death Chamber

John Allen Williams served in the Louisiana National Guard for seven years before volunteering for active duty in the United States Army. He was discharged as a sergeant after his service in the first Gulf War, having attained the Expert Rifleman’s Badge, the highest non-sniper shooting rank in the Army. In 1987, while serving, he also joined the Nation of Islam.

Shortly after his discharge from the Army, Williams helped provide security for the so-called “Million Man March” in Washington, DC, which was spearheaded by the Nation of Islam. Directly after that he moved to Antigua, where he engaged in offshore fraud activity, returning to the United States sometime in 2000 or 2001.

In October of 2001, following the attacks on 9/11, Williams changed his name to John Allen Muhammad. He’d also brought someone back from Antigua with him–a young man named Lee Boyd Malvo.

On October 3, 2002, the Beltway Sniper began the infamous rampage that gripped the country for three weeks. By the time it ended on October 24, 10 innocent lives had been snuffed out and three had barely survived their wounds. After an exhaustive search that police remained very tight-lipped about, they found John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo sleeping in a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice–a former police vehicle–which had been outfitted specifically for the attacks. It had been modified so that a sniper could fire from inside the closed trunk.

Found on them was a Bushmaster XR15 .223 hunting rifle with a laser sight–which was linked to 11 of the 14 shootings as well as shootings in Louisiana and Alabama–and a laptop computer stolen from a shooting victim in Alabama named Paul LaRuffia (he survived his wounds) that had been previously unconnected to the Beltway Sniper attacks. The computer had detailed maps of all of the shootings they had committed and information from the news on their victims. Just a year after the crime, Malvo, who was a minor at the time of the shootings, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and Muhammad was sentenced to life by the state of Maryland–but sentenced to death by the state of Virginia.

His death warrant signed this week, John Allen Muhammad is scheduled to die by lethal injection on November 10. His lawyers are trying to use all of the last-ditch tools they have to stop his death. I do not believe they will succeed. Even Virginia governor Kaine, who says he is against the death penalty, refuses to grant him clemency.

I have to ask all of those out there who favor hate-crime legislation on the basis that stiffer penalties will reduce hate crimes, since the vast majority of you are also against the death penalty…what makes you think that more time in prison will make a man think twice about committing a hate crime, yet the shadow of the death chamber won’t? How can anyone claim that more time in the clink will make a person reconsider a crime of passion while at the same time claiming that requiring a man surrender the air in his lungs won’t make him think again?

John Allen Muhammad deserves to die. So does Lee Boyd Malvo, minor or not–that worthless flab of human debris knew perfectly well what he was doing. Were it up to me, the surviving victims (to include the families of those killed) would each be given the opportunity to put a bullet in his body at his execution. That would be the only thing that would come close to being fair.

God forbid we violate his rights. Never mind that his victims weren’t given their rights; we would be uncivil if we didn’t make sure his rights were upheld. Sometimes I feel absolutely filthy when I read these stories and hear about how states either can’t or won’t give the death penalty. I feel as though the bad guy always wins when some bleeding heart manages to make a judge or jury see things their way.

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30 thoughts on “The Shadow of The Death Chamber

  1. “I have to ask all of those out there who favor hate-crime legislation on the basis that stiffer penalties will reduce hate crimes, since the vast majority of you are also against the death penalty…what makes you think that more time in prison will make a man think twice about committing a hate crime, yet the shadow of the death chamber won’t?”

    It’s my opinion that stiff penalties for crimes are meant to deter others who may wish to commit similar crimes. Obviously, the act of imposing tough penalties will do little to deter the person who’s already sitting in a cell facing life. Likewise, the person facing the death penalty can’t really be deterred from doing anything in the future if he’s strapped to a chair in a gas chamber in San Quentin.

    My stance on the death penalty is very simple. I oppose it for several reasons. The first being that our correctional system was designed with rehabilitation in mind, not revenge. State sanctioned murder (the death penalty) is nothing more than revenge. I’m sure the families of victims feel a sense of entitlement to avenge their loss (and keep in mind that this is merely my personal point of view. I could very well feel differently about the subject if I were in the position that these families are in).

    Another reason I am opposed to the death penalty is because I personally think that spending the rest of your life without any freedom over yourself is a fate worse than death. I’m sure lots of people would choose death over being locked away in a cramped cell for the rest of their days.

    I also have a financial reason for being opposed to capital punishment. I believe it costs far more to put a person to death than it is to keep them locked up forever. After exhausting numerous appeals (which I’m not sure of the specifics on, but I think appeals for the death penalty have a different process than a non death penalty; feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), and along withe cost of actually putting inmates to death, it is estimated that it costs an additional $60 million a year to execute people, and that’s just in California (according to a 2008 study by the state’s Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice).

    What I find interesting is most conservatives who often label themselves not only as Christian, but as pro life, support the death penalty. I’ve often had this compared with abortion (which I also don’t support), but as a stand alone issue, I’ve never received an actual answer as to how this paradoxical position seems to be a fluid one. A little insight on this from such conservatives would be appreciated.

  2. I can just sense poor Steve waiting to yell “HOW DARE YOU COMPARE INNOCENT BABIES TO CONVICTED MURDERERS!!!!” LOL

    Btw, the governor of Texas is so pro-life, he’s covering up the execution of an innocent man!

  3. It’s simply stupid to compare abortion to the death penalty, Tom. That’s what you always do, and it’s really the silliest argument around.

  4. Tom, cast your vote today:

    1.) Death Penalty for the man who shot and killed 12 people in Texas today.

    or

    2.) Innocent child praying he/she makes it past the first trimester.

  5. Robert writes: “State sanctioned murder (the death penalty) is nothing more than revenge.”

    This is objectively false, as the death penalty accomplishes at least one other thing besides vengeance: 100% effective prophylaxis against recidivism.

    That having been said, life-without-parole is almost as effective at preventing recidivism, but not 100%, because the asshole could do harm to other prisoners, or to corrections officers. On the plus side, however, LWPers may be less likely to attract radical defense attorneys looking for a high-profile client, not to mention celebrity activists (waving to Mike Farrell) eager to help publicize the killer’s sad, sad story. In other words, more life-without-parole sentences potentially translates to fewer FREE TOOKIE! bumperstickers, which is a minor blessing in itself. And of course, life-without-parole is at least partly reversible if exculpatory evidence should ever turn up.

    So there are clearly a number of logical reasons to generally favor life-without-parole over capital punishment. But that doesn’t mean the death penalty should be TOTALLY EXCLUDED as an option. Nor does it justify an indecent assault on the English language by prissily calling it “state-sanctioned murder” when Virginia humanely euthanizes John Allen Muhammad.

  6. “This is objectively false, as the death penalty accomplishes at least one other thing besides vengeance: 100% effective prophylaxis against recidivism.”

    But that’s not what our system was designed to do. If rehabilitation is the goal, how can that possibly be accomplished by killing prisoners?

    “Nor does it justify an indecent assault on the English language by prissily calling it “state-sanctioned murder” when Virginia humanely euthanizes John Allen Muhammad.”

    Am I the only one who sees the irony in accusing someone of indecently assaulting the English language and immediately following that up by using the word prissily? And the bottom line is that Muhammad is dead, as a result of (arguably his own actions) the state putting him to death. That seems pretty straightforward; a murder for a murder. This eye for an eye stuff is really archaic, and as Gandhi said, it leaves us all blind. Plus, who wouldn’t want to save $60 million per year by letting these scumbags rot forever?

  7. “Another reason I am opposed to the death penalty is because I personally think that spending the rest of your life without any freedom over yourself is a fate worse than death. ”

    I 100 percent agree with Robert. Being locked up for life and knowing under no circumstances that will never ever change is awful.

    I read plenty of true crime books and one thing I have learned is what you go to prison for sets the tone of how hard your time in will be. Victimize a child, you are scum inside of prison. The other inmates will get you as often as they can. Solitary confinement for your own protection is how you do your time.

    But beyond that, never being able to attend the funeral of a loved one. Never being able to watch your children grow up. Dying in prison around people who don’t give two cents about you. Never being able to ever live as a free person is a horrible way to live.

  8. @Robert: “But that’s not what our system was designed to do. If rehabilitation is the goal, how can that possibly be accomplished by killing prisoners?”

    Who said (besides you) that rehabilitation is THE goal for which our criminal justice system was designed? I’d say that the system’s primary goal is to reduce the harm done to society by criminals walking around free and uninhibited. Of course, rehabilitating prisoners so that (in theory) they will no longer be inclined to commit crimes upon release is a MEANS towards this end, but it’s not the only way to achieve the goal. Locking them up till they die, with no expectation of rehabilitation (nor any possibility of parole in the event that they find Jebus and “repent”), also keeps the worst muthafuckas off the streets — as does lethal injection.

  9. “This eye for an eye stuff is really archaic, and as Gandhi said, it leaves us all blind.”

    Hmm, you know what else is really super-duper archaic? Using lungs to breathe air, instead of having gills — we terrestrial vertebrates have been doing it for, oh, about 370 million years or so. But even though breathing with lungs is kind of old-fashioned and maybe even a bit “square,” it still works really well, and there’s no particular reason we should give it up.

    As for Gandhi’s moral discernment… don’t get me started.

  10. Steve Steve Steve…..

    For some reason you, as well as all of your right wing friends, have never been able to understand a very simple point, even when I try to make it clearer for you through satire:

    Killing is not “pro-life”.

    No comparison being made between the death penalty and abortion. Or between abortion and hunting.

    What you are doing is frantically changing the subject. I’m not even arguing that you’re wrong in your POSITIONS Steve, just that your party’s “manly” death mongering to promote a “tough guy” makes it absolutely hilarious for them to blabber about life lol.

    You KNOW what “life” means, so why don’t you just be secure enough to admit you’re not “pro-life” and if anything, given your particular mongering for expanding the death penalty and even risking MORE innocent deaths by cutting appeals, that if anything you’re pro-death!

    It’s a matter of FACT Steve. Your party has a commitment to the English language, and yet it doesn’t seem to understand that “life” does not mean “life they believe should be spared”. It’s not fair to put people on the defensive for their opposition to the death penalty when YOU’RE the ones who said they were the party of “life”.

    You believe that your SUPPORT of the death penalty means that it “doesn’t count”. An equally childlike mind on the left could argue they were “pro-life” too with some argument such as “how dare you compare the rights of women to barbaric vengeance!” and it wouldn’t excuse the fact that they were LYING about their rhetoric.

    I never made any comparison Steve. You and your party are just obsessed. You have to accept what the Oxford-English dictionary’s definition of “life” is and just get over it! lol

    I hope THIS time you understand but knowing you, you probably didn’t… So hear it goes…

    KILLING IS NOT PRO-LIFE

    You can pout about it being “justified” all you want but just quit LYING about your STANCE on LIFE! lol 😉

  11. “Who said (besides you) that rehabilitation is THE goal for which our criminal justice system was designed? ”

    Where I grew up that was one of the mandates of the prison system. Inmates had opportunties to learn job skills, get educated, and put them on a track to stay out of prison.

    People go with what they know and if a drug dealer only knows drug dealing, then what will he do when he gets out? If he learns a new skill then maybe he will make better choices when he gets out.

  12. I used to be a corrections officer (prison guard for those who may not understand the lingo). I’ve worked with both juveniles and adults, males and females. There are a few myths that need to be laid to rest.

    First of all, there is no longer any such thing as true “solitary confinement.” There’s special housing, which basically means you’re in your cell for 23 hours a day, but it is by no means solitary. Why? Because an officer needs to be able to see you and talk to you at any time to make sure you’re not harming yourself. There are shatter-proof windows on the doors–some facilities use steel mesh instead–and officers walking the halls almost constantly. Inmates are able to speak to each other through the doors. Solitary confinement, as is characterized on TV and in movies, is a thing of the past. Rid your mind of the notion of solitary confinement and add “special housing unit” to your vocabulary.

    Second, inmates may say they hate prison, but most of them wouldn’t know what to do with their freedom–particularly those who have spent most of their lives behind bars. Of the 32 kids I had on my very first unit at Adobe Mountain School in Arizona, fully half ended up in the adult prison system in Arizona (of the rest, many moved out of state). Ten of them are still locked up for very serious felonies, not the least of which being Barry Rupp, who carjacked someone, led police on a chase, wrecked the car, injured someone, and tried to flee on foot. I could give a number of names, and all of them are uncomfortable “on the outs.”

    Aside from that, to a lot of people in prison, it’s not that bad, especially when you consider all the rights they get that we losers who are free don’t get. They get shelter, clothes, food, a job if they want it, and all the free time in the world for all manner of activities that are illegal in prison (tattooing, making intricate homemade weapons, gambling, etc.). Sure, it’s not fun, but every single inmate I ever met–including those who engaged in supposedly suicidal behavior–would rather have spent their lives in prison than faced the death penalty.

    They don’t want to die. They, like the vast majority of humans, naturally feel the strong pull of self-preservation. It’s practically a part of their DNA. What you need to understand is that criminals are ultimately the most selfish of society. They do the things they do because they want something that they’re not supposed to have, not because they have no other option. And, as selfish creatures normally do, they are only looking out for NUMBER ONE. It’s that simple.

    Oh, and prison was not meant to be a source of rehabilitation. It is punitive. There are programs geared toward rehabilitation, but only because being nothing but punitive proved problematic when the short-termers ended up being released. Rehab programs were developed for the ones who would one day be freed, not for the long-term guys.

    “KILLING IS NOT PRO-LIFE”

    Since we only use that term when discussing abortion, please, come off it. If it makes you feel any better then refer to us as anti-abortion. You’re making absolutely silly arguments.

  13. Tom, I’ve knocked you out fifty times on the definition of the polticial movement of those persuaded to be called pro-life.

    For you, this is less about responsible sex and saving innocent-unborn as it is purposely trying to get a rise out of decent people by defending the evil.

    We’ll have a great discussion about this the same day this piece-of-shit from yesterday is dealt with Texas style.

    I’m not entertaining this ongoing teenage rant you’re having over protecting criminals.

  14. One more thing–yes, the process for appealing a death sentence is slightly different. But in any criminal case ending in a long-term conviction, the accused has no fewer than six chances to appeal. To me, this is ridiculous. Claims of mental instability are a part of every single criminal trial, so much so that I am actually surprised when I DON’T see a defense attorney claiming their client to be retarded.

    Our justice system is a wreck thanks in part to the Miranda decision and to the Warren Court. We’re more interested in preserving the rights of the accused than we are in taking care of their victims. There is something very seriously wrong with that.

  15. “I hope THIS time you understand but knowing you, you probably didn’t… ”

    Isn’t it amazing how much of a psychic I am?

    I’ve been trying to over and over again to find an innovative way of explaining this so you can FINALLY understand….

    Killing is NOT pro-life….

    I never even mentioned my stance on the death penalty. I may support it for all you know but I would not blabber about saying I’m something I’m not, that something of which being “pro-life”!

    Just like how I don’t say I’m “pro-life” because I know that my abortion stance contradicts it. I don’t twist the English language by making exceptions to definitions Steve. Just be enough of an adult to accept the definition of a word.

  16. Tom, the anti-abortion crowd supports the quality of life. Pro means “progress”. Ending life of the innocent for no reason is not “pro.”

    Ending life of someone guilty only saves other lives. So, it is a “pro” position. Moreover; with unemployment at over 10% now and the economy continuing to tank, how can you justify paying to house someone for their entire life?

    It’s amazing how you embrace complexity when explaining the southern strategy and painting conservatives as “racists” from the south, but how you embrace simplicity over two different sets of ideologies (pro-life vs. pro-choice) which are indeed very complexed on many levels.

    Anybody reading it can tell it’s intentional and it goes well beyond a mere opinion. It’s a bad attempt at deflecting from discussions and something you always try and do.

  17. You should do some research before you make your points Steve.

    The death penalty is costlier than life in prison.

    Your solution would be to cut down appeals, but given that 50 exonerated death row inmates spend over a decade in prison, that would lead to a holocaust of innocent people! Is that “pro-life” for you Steve?

    Not to mention the confirmed cases of innocents being executed, such as the poor guy whose innocence is being covered up by the “pro-life” TX governor.

  18. “You should do some research before you make your points Steve.”

    I have. I know many pro-lifers.

    “The death penalty is costlier than life in prison.”

    Get rid of the bureacratic process leading up to it, and it will be much cheaper. I still don’t believe that though.

    “Not to mention the confirmed cases of innocents being executed, such as the poor guy whose innocence is being covered up by the “pro-life” TX governor.”

    A conspiracy? LOL. Tom, you’ve lost it.

  19. No Steve, fact.

    Have you even been following the news or do you just hear what you want to hear?

    The TX gov has been constantly shuffling an independent panel of investigators who were on the verge of officially presenting a report concluding an executed man was innocent.

    And don’t even act as if your whining over Franken’s victory wasn’t conspiracy talk lol.

    Once again, you are really bad at this!

    I’ll have to start making those pancakes again…

  20. “Get rid of the bureacratic process leading up to it, and it will be much cheaper. I still don’t believe that though.”

    Like I said, you’d be killing even MORE innocent people. But then again, you are prolife..

  21. “The TX gov has been constantly shuffling an independent panel of investigators who were on the verge of officially presenting a report concluding an executed man was innocent.”

    No, Tom, facts please. The “fact” is that if it were a “fact” that any sitting governor was purposely “shuffling” to avoid anything, we wouldn’t be talking about it.

    There is a reason the impeachment process was invented.

    “And don’t even act as if your whining over Franken’s victory wasn’t conspiracy talk lol.”

    Is that all you have? Care to compare the magnitude of conservtive concerns versus liberal concern for Bush/Gore 2000? I forgot, you did condede that one, didn’t you.

    “Once again, you are really bad at this!”

    Bad at what? Accepting your radical perceptions as facts? Tom – you are supposed to be growing up now. These are things most people do not debate about…..and by the way, the last “debate” we had turned out to prove your dizzy views from your constant spinning on these issues. If I cared to go on long enough tonight – which I do not – Iguarantee you’d trip yourself up again.

    “Like I said, you’d be killing even MORE innocent people. But then again, you are prolife..”

    Notice how you pick and choose the word “innocent.” Criminals = yes! Babies = not so much. Again, you should use true facts Tom and not your spinned theories.

  22. Since he wasn’t impeached it means the governor’s innocent? Wow…. I think in tryiing to avoid the embarrassment of defeat you’ve found a whole new kind! lol

    I’d assume your reading comprehension skills would be good enough to understand that by “innocent” I was referring to those who were falsely convicted and found later to be innocent. So yes Steve, “innocent” “criminals”.

    Just like the innocent “criminal” whom Gov Perry murdered and whose innocence he’s covering up. Do some research on this Steve. The fact that there are some people who, despite this, STILL support the death penalty while calling themselves “pro-life” is beyond me.

  23. “Hmm, you know what else is really super-duper archaic? Using lungs to breathe air, instead of having gills”

    Oh, well pardon me all over the place. I didn’t realize that you were blessed with the anatomical ruggedness of consuming oxygen while underwater. You must be one of those human-animal hybrids that Bush was so afraid of. The rest of us don’t really have that luxury. But thanks for making a jackass of yourself by implying that executing someone is as involuntary as breathing.

    Dynamite debating skills…

  24. What’s becoming archaic is the American left debating fellow Americans about the evil ones. They serve society no good whatsoever. I am not interested in paying to house them until they die of natural causes.

    But, I do support the really sad Humane Society commercials that show beaten and starving animals. I’d rather send my money off to keep them breathing than someone who raped, murdered, or tortured.

  25. Wow Steve. You really can’t understand ANYTHING can you?

    The death penalty is costlier, mainly because of appeals which, given the horrific abusive of death sentences coming from botched trials as well as confirmed accounts of innocents being executed, would make your “pro-life” blabbering even more ridiculous and comical because it would lead to a holocaust of innocent people.

    Just to be clear, “innocent” meaning FALSELY convicted people…

  26. “According to an August 2009 investigative report by an expert hired by the Texas Forensic Science Commission, the original claims of arson were not sustainable; the Corsicana Fire Department disputes the findings, stating that the expert’s report overlooked several key points in the record. The case has been further complicated by allegations that Governor of Texas Rick Perry has impeded the investigation by replacing four of the nine Commission members in an attempt to change the Commission’s findings; Perry denies the charges stating that no less than nine appellate courts ruled against Willingham in his efforts to have his conviction overturned.”

    “Willingham was charged with murder on January 8, 1992. During his trial in August 1992, he was offered a life term in exchange for a guilty plea, which he turned down insisting he was innocent”

    “At trial, the fire investigator Vasquez testified that there were three points of origin for the fire, which indicated that the fire was “intentionally set by human hands”. A sample of burned material near the doorway of the house tested positive for mineral spirits, indicating the presence of lighter fluid. Willingham had escaped the fire with bare feet and no burn marks. This was taken as evidence that accelerant was poured by Willingham as he left the house. Several witnesses testified for the prosecution”

    The evidence here is overwhelming, Tom.

    You deny the fact that there were NINE appeals processes and nine different courts based on that evidence, upheld the conviction.

    You play judge and jury by proclaiming “innocent.”

    No. There is no factual findings that the Governor has blocked investigations as noted above. There is not factual findings that the investigation was accurate seeings as the Corsicana Fire Department disputes the findings.

    You’re picking a side here because you think it supports your arguments.

    This is not a fact.

    Sorry, bud.

  27. If you were right then the governor wouldn’t need to muzzle the commission Steve.

    The original investigation was found to have used qualities of “mystics” and “psychics” and was completely unprofessional.

    Sorry, bud.

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