Sunday, October 08, 2017

Monday, October 02, 2017

Evil In Las Vegas: 58 Dead In Shooting Massacre, 500+ Wounded

Another monstrous psychopath has mass murdered a large number of people, this time in Las Vegas.  A man in the Mandalay Bay Hotel broke out two windows in his suite, stuck a rifle out the window and opened fire on a large crowd of people.  The people were attending a country music concert, and easy targets from the shooter's elevated perch.

ISIS, the Muslim terrorist group who specializes in murder of innocents, has stated that the shooter was a recent convert to Islam.  However, this has not been verified at this point.

The biggest question in my mind is this:  how long before the Democrats begin making political hay out of the tragedy?  I expect they will call for banning of guns, one of their favorite goals, and will find a way to blame the tragedy on Trump.

If it is found that Islam and Muslims were a factor, expect nothing to be done about it.  Guns may be banned, but Muslims will not be.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Caryl Chessman and Death Row

Caryl Chessman in the Gas Chamber
Back in 1960 I was very concerned with the fate of a convicted felon, one Caryl Chessman, who was awaiting execution in California's gas chamber at San Quentin Prison.  I was a freshman in high school, but I was hoping Chessman's sentence would be commuted to life imprisonment.  I had read his book, Cell 2455 Death Row, and was impressed with his writing and outlook.  The gritty details of life on death row were very compelling, the steady stream of prisoners walking past his cell on the way to the little green room, the gas chamber, while he waited his turn.

After numerous stays of execution, Chessman was finally executed on Monday, May 2, 1960.  Later that day, after school, my best friend Joe and I were shooting hoops at a nearby junior high school and expressing to each other our regrets over Chessman's death.

I recently reread parts of Cell 2455 Death Row, and am currently reading Chessman's second book, Trial by Ordeal.  These books have long been out of print, but the former is available for Kindle and the second can be obtained from second hand book dealers.  I received my copy of Trial by Ordeal, and its pages are browning with age and it has a slight musty smell.  Even though the book is 60 years plus of age, it is still a fascinating read.  Chessman was an intelligent and even sensitive man while on death row, but he hadn't always been that way.

Caryl Chessman had led a life as a petty criminal, stealing cars, robbing bordellos and gambling dens, and even assaulted a police officer.  However, he never killed anyone, or even seriously injured anyone.  He was accused of being "the Red Light Bandit" in 1948, a robber who would use a red spotlight (to simulate a police car) to pull cars over on the highway so he could rob the people inside.  The Red Light Bandit made two fatal mistakes, he robbed two cars in Lovers' Lane, then forced the female passengers out and into his own car a few yards away.  The female abductees were then forced at gunpoint to perform fellatio on the bandit.  He did not rape them, however, this was a disgusting and evil crime.

At that time, California had the "Little Lindbergh Law" in place, wherein a kidnapper could be given the death penalty.  The Red Light Bandit qualified, for moving his women victims a few yards away.  Chessman was arrested on suspicion of being the Red Light Bandit, and he probably was indeed that same criminal.  He was driving the same type of car when arrested, had a pen light in the glove compartment like ones used in the car robberies, and a knotted red handkerchief that could be fitted over the car's spotlight.  There was no gun present, but one was found near the car after the arrest, where it was probably thrown by Chessman.  The two women identified him at trial of being the perpetrator.

Chessman's attorney said he could make a deal with the courts, that Chessman would plead guilty in exchange for a life term with possible parole after seven years.  Chessman, however, swore he was innocent and was not the Red Light Bandit, and would settle for nothing less than a full acquittal.  So he took over his own case and acted as his own attorney, was found guilty and sentenced to death.  Chessman's life was a series of stupid errors, rotten judgment and thuggish behavior.  But did he deserve to die for it?  I think not.  The Little Lindbergh Law was revoked and every living prisoner convicted under it had their death sentences commuted.  Every prisoner, that is, except for Chessman.  He was executed for crimes that would not have carried the death penalty at the time of his execution.

Chessman has been dead now for 57 years, but his writing continues to impress.  I recommend his books.  After I finish Trial by Ordeal I will look for his last book,  The Face of Justice.