Are death penalty opponents willing to sacrifice more innocent victims in order to protect killers?
Commentary (originally posted to PG-Politics on March 1, 2009):
Death penalty opponents often claim that the death penalty does not deter crime. Let’s look at the case of Benjamin Lester Perry. If Mr. Perry had been executed for his first murder, DeWayne Dunmore, 37, would probably still be alive.
Benjamin Lester Perry shot and killed Darryl Martin Spencer on December 6, 1987, in the parking lot of the former International House of Pancakes on Branch Avenue in Hillcrest Heights, MD. He was arrested on December 14, 1987 (Post, page D5, December 15, 1987).
Perry was convicted of murder on April 25, 1988 (Post, page D6, April 28, 1988). The original conviction was overturned, Perry was tried again, and convicted again in 1990. It appears that Judge Graydon McKee sentenced him to a total of 40 years in prison with 15 suspended, sentence to commence Mar 16, 1988 (MD CaseSearch, not reported in the local press).
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If Perry had been executed for that murder, or if he had been required to serve the entire sentence, DeWayne Dunmore would probably still be alive.
On Jun 16, 2000, Judge McKee reconsidered and reduced Perry’s sentence, making it run 20 years of March 16, 1988. If he had served that reduced sentence, he would would have been in jail on January 25, 2008, instead of out on the street killing DeWayne Dunmore (MD CaseSearch, not reported in the local press).
Sometime before August 15, 2007, Perry was released from prison (he was ticketed for littering that date, MD CaseSearch).
DeWayne Dunmore was shot and killed in Forestville, MD, on January 25, 2008 (Police, 25 Jan 2008). He identified Benjamin Perry as his killer (see trial report below). Perry was arrested fleeing the scene (Police, 25 Jan 2008, Post, 26 Jan 2006).
Perry was convicted of the murder of Dumnore on September 5, 2008. The Post reported on September 6, 2008:
On a bitterly cold night in January, DeWayne Dunmore lay facedown in the desolate parking lot of a Forestville office park, bleeding from four bullet wounds.
Dunmore, 37, called 911 on his cellphone. “I’ve been shot,” he reports in the taped phone call. After he responds to a dispatcher’s request for a street address, Dunmore says, “Yeah, I’m dying.” His voice becomes weak. “I’m dying, I’m dying.”
“Do you know who did it?” the dispatcher asked.
His voice clear, Dunmore responded, ” Benjamin Perry .”
On October 23, 2008, Circuit Judge Crystal D. Mittelstaedt sentenced Perry to 55 years in state prison, ordering that only 15 of those years be mandatory, meaning that Perry must serve at least that time before he would be eligible for a parole hearing (Post, page B2, October 23, 2008). So, in theory, Benjamin Lester Perry can be out and able to kill again in just 15 years.
Most of the press coverage of the drive to repeal the death penalty addresses the killers. Nobody covered anything beyond the bare facts surrounding Benjamin Perry’s murder of DeWayne Dunmore. The Post had the barest mention of Perry’s previous murder conviction, but with no details. Nobody reported on the reduction of his sentence. Nobody reported that he was out loose before the end of his sentence. Nobody warned the public that there was a killer on the loose. There is no indication that any of our elected officials who oppose the death penalty were concerned that a was killer loose.
We know that most of our elected officials are on the side of the killers when it comes to the death penalty. Who was on the side of DeWayne Dunmore? Or the wife, three children, parents, brothers and sisters he left behind? Apparently nobody, certainly not our elected officials, and not Judge McKee.
How many more DeWayne Dunmores will die in order to save killers?
DEWAYNE ROBERT DUNMORE, SR. Suddenly on Friday, January 25, 2008. The beloved husband of Germaine; Also survived by three sons, Dewayne Jr., Wayne and Shayne; parents Franklin and Della Dunmore; sister Casie; brothers Franklin Jr. and Raymond; a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and friends. Visitation Friday, February 1, from 9 a.m. until hour of service 11 a.m. at A.P. Shaw United Methodist Church, 2525 12th Pl, S.E. Interment Harmony Memorial Cemetery. Arrangements by POPE FUNERAL HOMES.
Washington Post, The (DC)
Date: January 30, 2008
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