"There are only two ways of telling the complete truth—anonymously and posthumously."Thomas Sowell

Thursday, December 08, 2005

True Crime Is Stranger . . .

. . . than fictional ones. As AP informs us,

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - In an unusual case of mistaken identity, a woman who thought a block of white cheese was cocaine is charged with trying to hire a hit man to rob and kill four men. The woman also was mistaken about the hit man. He turned out to be an undercover police officer.

Sandy Booth, 18, was arrested over the weekend and remains in jail with bond set at $1 million on four charges of attempted murder and four counts of soliciting a murder.

According to police, Booth was in the Memphis home of the four intended victims last week when she mistook a block of queso fresco cheese for cocaine — inspiring the idea to hire someone to break into the home, take the drugs, and kill the men.

She told the undercover cop, whom she thought to be a hitman, that any children in the house old enough to testify would have to be killed.

To summarize: an eighteen-year-old girl decides to kill four men and their children, and presumably any spouses and girlfriends who chanced to be there, and any other innocent bystanders who might happen by, and take the men's imaginary cocaine money.

I hope she fries.

She won't, of course, but it would be the only reasonable response.


James Elliott said...

You would have her executed for intent and not an actual act of commission?

I can only hope you are being hyperbolic. She deserves punishment, yes. But death? For merely intending to commit something? That's rather over the falls in a barrel, isn't it?

S. T. Karnick said...

No, I mean it. Intent is what counts. She was actually on her way in to do the killings, thinking she was armed with real guns, when she was apprehended. The fact that her intended victims were spared by good police work cannot reduce the enormity of her crime in setting forth to do such a thing.

James Elliott said...

I'm sorry. Of all the contributors here, I have the most respect for you and your opinions, but I cannot agree on this one. Death is far too ultimate a punishment for mere intent.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Boy, this is a tough one ...

ST, you injected a time component into your argument, in that she was "on her way"; is that necessary for your argument?

What if she would have changed her mind at the last minute, say, before the cops ended the charade?

What if the cops had apprehended her seconds after she hired the bogus hitman?

Both scenarios have intent.

Kathy Hutchins said...

Since I oppose capital punishment I don't "hope she fries" but I do think there are reasonable arguments to be made for treating attempted murder with this sort of elaborate advance planning more seriously than, say, second-degree murder. The intent to commit a crime this heinous is itself a horrible attack on the fabric of society.

At law, attempt means "the act of taking a substantial step beyond mere preparation with specific intent to commit an act which is a crime at the time of the substantial step." The requisite guilty mind is present if a person intends to commit an act which would be a crime had the facts been as the person believed them to be. So in this case the criminality does depend on what she thought was going on, not on what was really going on.

Matt Huisman said...

I'm with James on this one. It's an incredibly heinous act, but the extreme response of execution should be held in reserve for the truly grotesque.

S. T. Karnick said...

CLA, if she had changed her mind, that would have made all the difference in the world. But she did not: she was about to go through with it. Which in my view makes it an attempted murder, which I believe should be punished by death. We don't get prizes for misspellings in spelling bees, and we shouldn't get a lesser sentence for failure to murder.

That interesting aspect is why I chose to mention this provocative case.

Tom Van Dyke said...

STK, both Shylock and Portia await the author's gentle hand. ;-)

Jay D. Homnick said...

I'm with James here, too. If the crime does not occur, capital punishment is not indicated.

That would be true even if the plan were masterful but luckily unsuccessful. Here the whole operation, from conception to attempted action, was drawn from the Theater of the Absurd.

Bubba said...

For the sake of discussion please let me submit the following two excerpts from “The Sermon on the Mount” plus one additional snippet from the Bible:

(The words of Jesus) Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV) "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' {22} But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

(The words of Jesus) Matthew 5:27-28 (NIV) "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' {28} But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

(The words of Jesus) Matthew 15:19-20 (NIV) For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. {20} These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean.'"

Whether you are a Christian or not, it is clear that Jesus teaches that thinking and plotting about an act is equivalent to committing the act itself. There is a quite a vast difference from having a random, bizarre thought cross your mind to coming up with a plan to accomplish that thought. And then, one crosses another large crevasse when one begins to enact that plan. So, this woman had multiple opportunities to come to her senses and stop the scheme to kill and steal; yet she proceeded. Had it not been for the police, she would have succeeded.

I realize that this seems to follow the plot of the Tom Cruise/Colin Ferrell movie of a few years ago (Sorry, I’m having a middle-age moment and cannot recall the title), however, this woman not only demonstrated the desire to rob and murder, but also began the enact her plan.

Therefore, I say, OFF WITH HER HEAD.