Saturday, November 29, 2014

Killing Scott Panetti is Nuts - Just Ask the Victims' Daughter

          Sonja Alvarado watched Scott Panetti brutally kill her parents. After the killing, Panetti  abducted Sonja and her daughter at gun point before finally releasing them. Panetti is currently scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on December 3, 2014. 

          Panetti is nuts, and has been for a very long time. His Keystone Kops of a trial has been extensively documented and detailed by traditional media. However, as his appointment with death approaches, I wonder about Sonja Alvarado, the victim who has lost so much. She is hardly mentioned in the tales of Panetti’s cowboy suits and his attempt to subpoenas Jesus Christ to trial. How does Sonja she feel about all this? Does she feel retributive justice will be serviced by the death of the man who killed her parents? Does she feel anything will be accomplished by the State killing the man?  I found the following while searching for an answer. In an August 1999 affidavit filed during Panetti's federal habeas claim, Sonja was straightforward in what she believed should happen to the man who killed her mother and father:

I do not hate Scott. I hate what Scott did. Scott was a good person except when he changed...  I know now that Scott is mentally ill and should not be put to death.

           Victims of unspeakable crimes are rightfully compelling figures. The vicissitudes of time and circumstance lead many to a differing measure of forgiveness. This willingness to sheath the sword of retribution is beyond conventional understanding - at least mine. I wonder about the grace necessary to forgive, in any measure, the killer of a loved one.

            The death penalty in Texas is many things. But Panetti's execution is not about retribution, unless it is believed the body politic of Texas has the right of to take such vengeance. Sonja Alvarado, if her 1999 affidavit still reflects her feelings, does not want Panetti killed. Sonja sees no useful purpose, resource or end served by killing the killer of her parents. Panetti’s appointment with death is about the pridefulness of bureaucracies refusing to acknowledge a systems breakdown. Panetti is nuts. He was nuts at his trial. He was nuts before his trial. He was probably nuts when he brutally took the lives of others. And yes, he is nuts now. Sonja Alaravado knows this. The people in authority who can still stop the killing of this severely mentally ill man - and I am looking at you Governor Perry -  know it too.

           Panetti has become a martyr, while one of his victims, Sonja Alvarado, has been kicked to the curb. That is truly nuts. 

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