**Posted by Phineas
In 2009, the United States Supreme Court struck down the death penalty for anyone who committed a crime otherwise eligible for death prior to the age of 18.
This case shows why they were wrong:
De’Marquis Elkins now faces life in prison. At the time of the shooting, he was 17 – too young to face the death penalty under the state law.
Another youth, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, is to be tried later.
During the trial, prosecutors said Elkins shot Antonio Santiago in an attempted robbery. The killing sent shockwaves across America.
The jury in the town of Marietta, Georgia, found Elkins guilty of 11 counts, including two counts of felony murder and one count of malice murder on 21 March.
The shooting happened in the town of Brunswick, as Antonio Santiago was riding in a stroller pushed by his mother, Sherry West.
She told the court that her son was shot in the face and she was shot in the leg by Elkins after she refused to hand over her purse.
She said she told the assailants that she did not have any money and tried to shield her son, before shots rang out near her home.
“He asked me for money and I said I didn’t have it,” Ms West said, as she wept in an interview with the Associated Press earlier this year.
Someone kindly explain to me how Elkins committing this atrocity one day after his 18th birthday makes it okay to sentence him to death, but not if he was one day shy of it. Or even a week, a month, or a year.
The fact is we designate as “children” people who in other cultures and in earlier ages would have been old enough to fulfill the responsibilities of an adult: to own land, raise a family, participate in politics, fight as warriors, and to know right from wrong.
But, as we’ve “progressed,” we’ve lengthened the time of childhood and legal incompetency well past the point where it makes sense.
Somewhere around their 15th-16th year, “children” should know enough to know that killing a baby is wrong, among the most horrible things one can do. The killer should not be given special leniency because “he’s only a boy.” Not at that point. The law should be able to impose death for horrific crimes committed by those close to the age of majority, based on a jury’s weighing of the evidence.
Sherry West’s baby is dead, while Elkins is protected from paying the ultimate and just price for what he did. That’s not justice.
That’s just wrong.
via Tommy Hearn
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)