Frances Newton and Tookie Williams When one death is not enough for the state

On September 14th,2005 Texas executed Frances Newton as punishment for the death of her husband and children. They alleged that she murdered her family for $100,000 in life insurance. But what they didn’t do is give her justice. Instead they protected their choices, decisions, and efforts with a stoic and consistent ignorance of the facts.

The lawyer appointed to Frances Newton was the now infamous Ron Mock who has since been suspended for a variety of offenses. He holds the distinction of having sent the most defendant clients to Death Row. It is clear that when it came to Frances Newton and Gary Graham (Shaka Sankofa) Ron Mock was incompetent council. But that did not disuade the state from execution.

The state used the fact that Frances purchased life insurance around a month before the murders. What the state didn’t disclose was that family members stated they encouraged Frances to do so after an uncle died with no insurance for the funeral. This is evidence that can be manipulated. But they also failed to disclose that her insurance agent also stated she pressured Frances to get life insurance…as she was only there to renew her auto insurance.

Then as the case had gone through appeal after appeal, the defense had found that there was now theory of a ‘second gun’. This theory was that the gun that was found and listed as evidence would be “Gun One” but the investigators also found a gun belonging to Adrian Newton, Frances’ husband. That gun was dismissed as never been fired and belonging to Adrian Netwon. How did they do this if there was never a ballistics test or serial matching? If they did match this gun, why wasn’t it introduced to the jury?

The bottom line for Frances Newton’s case is that the State of Texas did not even try to uphold a standard that the death penalty should require. Frances was murdered by the State of Texas on September 14, 2005.

But the question lingers, why does our government execute people?

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If the basic premise is that these people pose an ongoing risk to society, how is it that Frances Newton would be an on going risk to society? She was interviewed in an opportunist setting for the 700 Club who came to praise her for becoming a Christian but did nothing to save her life.

If the basic premise is that this is punishment then we have simply become a killing society and not interested in redemption and should end all guises related to reformation of people in prison, and end the ‘corrections’ program.

Then we can look at the case of Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams who was executed in California on December 13, 2005. The State of California refused to acknowledge the change that Tookie Williams showed in his life and the work he had done to help restore the damage to the community that he admitted to participating in. Though he denied the murders he was accused of, he has admitted that his life was filled with violence that had to end in the community that birthed him. He spent his time in prison writing books to encourage the youth from getting involved with crime and gangs.

Supporters argue that Williams was a reformed man who would do more good to turn youth around than would be gained by executing him. This seems to be a position that society should look at and take much more serious. If a man or woman who has been convicted can work the rest of their lives sharing their story to help prevent future loss of life, then isn’t this the goal we strive for with our ‘system’?

The Death Penalty has been a violent answer to crime for longer than history documents, and it seems to show that we are not able to reform our thinking as a society towards understanding the roots of crime, violence, and social responsibility. The encouragement of retribution in the victims lives has seen a spike in recent years with the advent of “victim’s rights” groups. While it is true that some guilty go free and justice for a victim is often not substantial, we cannot continue to encourage revenge in the hearts of the families affected. We should uphold the highest moral standards towards justice.

More coming soon….

My prayers go out to Jewel, I know we tried, but its not enough. This isn’t over.

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