Home > Crime > Casey Anthony – Michael Jacques and Pondering the Death Penalty Aurguments

Casey Anthony – Michael Jacques and Pondering the Death Penalty Aurguments


12-year-old Brooke Bennett  disappeared June 25, 2008 – her remains were recovered July 2nd.

Caylee Anthony, 3, had been missing since June 16, 2008 – her remains were recovered six months later.

The headlines in the summer of 2008 were frightening and unthinkable yet grabbed my attention for whatever reasons.  Both children had been murdered and their bodies discarded as so much worthless trash.  I made a decision to follow the cases in hopes of seeing justice done for these two precious children.

Due to the liberal Sunshine laws in Florida, we pretty much know everything about the Caylee Anthony case, including when her accused killer, mom Casey Anthony, buys a bra in jail!

In Brooke’s case we know very little.  Federal law shields documents and court proceedings.  What meager information reaches the public is through accredited press attending hearings.

The cases are death penalty cases, one State, and one federal and that’s why we are here today.  Both cases are deemed homicides, but that’s where the similarities end.  So, I went on a death penalty research junket and found some pretty amazing stuff…let’s begin!

Casey Anthony

We already know the death penalty has been ruled allowable in the case.  I went and looked at some of Andrea Lyon’s – The Angel of Death Row – motion to disallow arguments and was quickly reminded how they didn’t ring true to me then and still don’t, rereading them today!  As a most reliable source, I turned to ritanita, the all things Casey, go-to gal!  Her flawless work and attention to detail made this part of the research a snap!

– Lyon stated that the reason State had asked for death penalty is that they want to get as biased, conviction-prone jury as possible. She said that the State’s case is based on the presumption that since Casey didn’t report daughter missing, she killed her. She indicated that a death-qualified jury is more conviction-prone.

– She indicated the prosecution gets to decide what to charge, the defense has no say. She cited that there is an impermissible motive: that a death penalty here is being used is to coerce a plea.

– …insufficient aggravating circumstances to bolster the charge. She listed all those that could not conceivably apply. Among them were that the murder was heinous, atrocious, or cruel.

– …there was no proof of cruelty or torture. The State could not say if the victim had knowledge of her impending death.

– She continued by stating that the prosecution cannot prove Ms. Anthony committed another felony in the process of the murder,  that of aggravated child abuse.

If you recall, Jeff Ashton’s rebuttal was both chilling and moving.  He pretty much made mincemeat out of all Lyon’s claims in her motion!

“If she was physically restrained, her killer would have had to restrain her arms by some means, applying tape while she was conscious. As the killer looked into her face, maybe her killer even saw her eyes as the tape was applied, first one piece, then two, then three, so that no breath was possible. Could Caylee have understood what was happening to her? Did she try to resist? Could her killer see the fear in her eyes as the tape was applied?”

Was there any truthful statement made by Lyon?

You can read the actual motion as well as ritanita’s incredible recap of the hearing at the following links!


Casey Anthony Hearing, December 11, 2009

Now on to…

Michael Jacques

As I commented earlier, the public isn’t privy to information in a Federal case so there isn’t a whole lot to work with here.

Lawyers for Jacques filed a 186-page motion asking a judge to block the use of the death penalty in his case, calling its application capricious and discriminatory.

David Ruhnke and Jean Barrett, New Jersey lawyers specializing in defending death penalty cases, and Michael Desautels said federal law is unevenly applied to minority suspects, and is vulnerable to allowing innocent people to be executed.

Prosecutors were quick to fire back: There’s only one problem with the recent effort from Michael Jacques’ defense team to have the federal death penalty declared unconstitutional, a complete misstatement of the law and the potential to destroy the foundation of American justice.

“Some of defendant’s claims represent such a marked break with established law that, if accepted, they would be the undoing of our criminal justice system, and, in particular, the trial by jury feature”



Burlington Free Press

I refer you to the above picture.  Does anyone believe Michael Jacques is a ‘minority suspect’ in any shape or form?

So this all rings pretty disingenuous to me!

Various death penalty stats from several sources:

The following table presents the racial demographics of murder in the United States for 2008 (with ‘other’ including Asian American, Native American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander American)

Offenders Victims White victims Black victims Other victims Unknown
White 32.8% 48.2% 83.3% 7.6% 30.0% 37.0%
Black 36.5% 47.8% 13.8% 90.0% 16.7% 29.0%
Other 1.7% 2.3% 1.2% 0.3% 52.0% 3.0%
Unknown 29.0% 1.7% 1.6% 2.1% 1.2% 31.0%

Murder in White American and African American populations were overwhelmingly intraracial, with 83% of all White victims and 90% of all Black victims having been murdered by individuals of the same race.


Current Death Row Populations by Race as of January 1, 2010

State Total Black White Latino Asian Native Amer.
Alabama 201 97 100 3 1 0
Arizona 135 16 92 23 0 4
Arkansas 42 25 17 0 0 0
California 697 251 253 159 22 12
Colorado 3 2 0 1 0 0
Connecticut 10 6 3 1 0 0
Delaware 19 9 7 3 0 0
Florida 398 137 223 35 2 1
Georgia 106 52 50 3 1 0
Idaho 17 0 17 0 0 0
Illinois 15 5 8 2 0 0
Indiana 15 4 11 0 0 0
Kansas 10 4 6 0 0 0
Kentucky 35 6 28 1 0 0
Louisiana 85 55 26 3 1 0
Maryland 5 4 1 0 0 0
Mississippi 61 32 28 0 1 0
Missouri 53 22 31 0 0 0
Montana 2 0 2 0 0 0
Nebraska 11 2 5 4 0 0
Nevada 77 31 37 8 1 0
New Hampshire 1 1 0 0 0 0
New Mexico 2 0 2 0 0 0
North Carolina 167 87 66 4 1 9
Ohio 168 85 76 3 2 2
Oklahoma 84 32 44 3 0 5
Oregon* 32 3 25 2 0 1
Pennsylvania 222 133 69 18 2 0
South Carolina 63 33 29 1 0 0
South Dakota 3 0 3 0 0 0
Tennessee 90 39 46 1 2 2
Texas 337 130 104 99 4 0
Utah 10 1 6 2 0 1
Virginia 15 6 8 1 0 0
Washington 9 4 5 0 0 0
Wyoming 1 0 1 0 0 0
US Gov’t 59 31 23 4 0 1
US Military 8 6 1 0 1 0
  • One member of Death Row’s race is not currently identified

(Some inmates were sentenced to death in more than one state, resulting in a total slightly higher than 3,261 when the individual states are combined.)

Death Penalty Information Center

Federal Death Penalty

The federal death penalty can be enacted in any state or territory of the United States, even in states that do not have the death penalty. Three federal executions have taken place since 2001. There are currently 60 prisoners on Federal death row.

* In 1988, a federal death penalty statute was enacted for murders committed in the course of drug trafficking activities.

* In 1994, the federal death penalty was again expanded to include some 60 different offenses. These included: murder of certain government officials; kidnapping resulting in death; murder for hire; fatal drive-by shootings; sexual abuse crimes resulting in death; carjacking resulting in death; as well as certain crimes not resulting in death, including the running of large-scale drug enterprises.

  • From 1963 to 2001, no federal executions took place. Since 2001, three prisoners have been executed; there have been 37 federal executions since 1927.

The Federal Death Penalty and Race

  • According to the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project, since 1988 US Attorneys General have authorized the death penalty in 435 cases. Of these, 115 of the defendants (26%) were white. Over half of those currently on Federal death row are non-white.
  • An American Civil Liberties Union report in 2007 revealed that the chance of a case being authorized for the death penalty is 84% higher in cases where the victim is white, regardless of the race of the defendant.

The Federal Death Penalty and Geography

  • According to 2007 Justice Department statistics about 40% of death penalty cases since 2001 have come from six jurisdictions: the Central District of California, the Eastern District of New York, the District of Maryland, the District of Washington, D.C., and the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia.
  • Of the 60 prisoners on federal death row under active death sentences over half came from Southern states, including twelve from Texas. Six came from states that do not have the death penalty.

Federal Laws Providing for the Death Penalty

I totally get that defense attorneys are only doing their job for their clients, but distorting facts and published facts and figures, one has to pause and wonder if they, themselves are doing more damage in death penalty cases.

I ask you pay particular attention to the Current Death Row Populations by Race 
as of January 1, 2010, above!

I guess it bears repeating…this all rings pretty disingenuous to me!

Is it valid argument against the death penalty or is it defense smoke and mirrors?

What do you think?

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