Another Tragic Death Row Tale

Jeffrey Havard, sentenced to death for sexually abusing a baby and killing her.

He had always maintained that he accidentally dropped the little girl after bathing her.  She hit her head on the toilet and suffered a brain hemorrhage, resulting in death.

Now, in the so often meaningless post-conviction proceedings, a respected expert says that all the evidence is consistent with Havard’s story and there’s no evidence of sexual abuse or “shaken baby syndrome” in the record.

Two interesting quotes from the linked article.  First the guy who prosecuted the case:

District Attorney Ronnie Harper remains convinced Havard is guilty, saying proof of sexual assault was overwhelming. “I had doctors crying on the witness stand,” he said.He said he’s “never seen a guy look more guilty” than Havard did in his videotaped statement.

He “looked guilty” and the doctors cried.  The idea that someone of the mental acumen of Ronnie Harper is entrusted with the power to prosecute people for crimes, including death eligible crimes, is a searing indictment of the legal profession, the judiciary and the system as a whole.  People that stupid are supposed to be weeded out by law schools and bar exams, and it’s past time to figure out why that doesn’t work. More excellent graduates of law schools and criminal justice colleges are needed.

The other thing that kind of jumps out is a quote from Havard’s sister, in his “defense”:

She believes he is innocent of any sexual abuse and shudders to think he is still behind bars. “We know he dropped the baby,” she said. “We’re not saying he is totally innocent, but he’s been in there for 10 years. It’s very heartbreaking.”

Strange, isn’t it?  If he just dropped the baby by accident, he certainly is “totally innocent” from a criminal standpoint,and has no business being in prison at all, to say nothing of being on death row and slated for execution.

But victim blaming is very common, even among people who are close relatives with natural bonds of affection.  Group think wears everyone down.

(H/T Radley Balko)


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