Saturday, October 28, 2006

Death penalty double clutch

Here's food for thought concerning when the death penalty is appropriate. What exactly justifies seeking imposition of the death penalty? Whatever standards there might be, are they consistently applied?

No death penalty sought in double slaying


Yakima County Prosecutor Ron Zirkle announced Friday he won't seek the death penalty in the execution-style slaying of a reputed drug dealer and his 3-year-old daughter.

Given pretrial costs of nearly $1.25 million, Zirkle's decision not to seek the death penalty against Junior Sanchez is sure to be seen as controversial. He earlier made the same decision with regard to Sanchez's co-defendant, Mario "Gato" Mendez. The prosecutor said ethics guidelines prevent him from discussing his rationale until the case goes to trial, and he predicted his decision will become more obvious at that stage.

He did say, however, that his decision was not based on any potential concerns prosecutors might have about the strength of the case. Nonetheless, Zirkle acknowledged the case has become controversial because of the enormous costs involved, which might have been avoided with a quicker decision.

"For months I've been trying to think of ways I could end this sooner because of the money that's being spent on this case, but I wasn't able to conclude the process sooner," he said. "These decisions are too important to be made quickly."

Sanchez, 24, and Mendez, 26, both face charges of aggravated first-degree murder in the February 2005 shooting deaths of 21-year-old Ricky Causor and his 3-year-old daughter, Mya. Causor's girlfriend, Michelle Kublic, was wounded in the attack. She was shot four times while shielding the couple's other daughter, 2-year-old Angelica, from the gunfire.


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