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December 19, 2007

Another death sentence for child rape in Louisiana

Though many are noting recent declines in the death penalty, there is one state experiencing capital growth in one notable context:  as detailed in this news report, Louisiana last week secured another death sentence for aggravted child rape.  Here are the particulars:

A man proscutors say used a 5-year-old girl as a sex toy for him and his girlfriend made history Wednesday by being sentenced to die.  Richard Davis, a 35-year-old Ohio native, listened but did not make eye contact as each Caddo juror verbally confirmed his sentence. It was only two days ago that the same group of nine women and three men spent 1½ hours deliberating before convicting Davis of aggravated rape for repeatedly sexually assaulting the child from October 2004 to January 2005....

During closing arguments, Davis cried as prosecutors asked jurors to give him the death penalty. "Execute this man," Caddo Assistant District Attorney Lea Hall said as he pointed to Davis. "Justice has a sword, and this sword needs to swing today." Defense attorney Kurt Goines made an impassioned plea for his client's life.... Goines says Davis is not insane but struggles with mental illness, including borderline personality disorder....

Davis' mother, Shelia Davis, said he was physically, mentally and verbally abused as a child and ran away from home at age 15. She begged jurors not to kill him. "Please, he never felt loved." But prosecutors say that's no excuse for the crimes Richard Davis committed. To strengthen their appeal for the death penalty, prosecutors touted criminal behavior that includes the molestation of his son as well as the molestation of at least four teenage girls.

Louisiana's ability to obtain another death sentence for child rape should increase the chances that the Supreme Court will take up the appeal of Patrick Kennedy, the only other person on death row for child rape.  Kennedy's petition for cert will be considered in a few weeks by the Justices and his constitutional attack on the death penalty for a non-homicide offense could be heard as early as this Spring.

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December 19, 2007 at 10:52 PM | Permalink


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I don't think it's unconstitutional, but it's just bad, bad, bad... and will come back to bite the death penalty supports in the rear.

Posted by: reasonsformoving | Dec 20, 2007 12:41:49 AM

It is definitely, not unconstitutional. However, this sex laws have already gone far enough. It wont be long before they start using the death penalty as leverage to get normal people to plea guilty to whatever crime they want.

Posted by: EJ | Dec 20, 2007 12:55:29 AM

Intellectually speaking, I don't support Louisiana's law, but if this turkey gets executed, I won't have a problem with it. Additionally, I would not support the Supreme Court striking down Louisiana's law--there is no doubt that executing these kind of sex offenders is constitutional.

Using a 5 year old as a "sex toy" is about as disgusting as one can be. Let's hope this child can get the help she needs as well.

I wonder if all of the abuse child sex offenders face in the joint is another contributing factor to the deaths of children. If life in jail is a living hell for these animals, they may be incentivized to take the extra risk involved in murdering the child. I don't know, but it is something to consider. Supposedly in some places the child molesters face some pretty brutal treatment.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 20, 2007 8:25:12 AM

The fact that he didn't kill the girl after raping her supports the theory that he was not thinking straight at the time of the rape. Why leave the victim alive if the penalty is the same? That's why the death penalty for anything less than murder is just bad policy.

Posted by: bruce | Dec 20, 2007 1:58:15 PM

Ahhh, federalist, always sharpening that sword of execution. My question, tho, is where do we draw the line? If death is an appropriate [and consitutional] punishment for "child" rape, what about raping a 10 year old? a 15 year old? a 25 year old? But, wait, what about assault? an assault that leaves a permanent disability? Such as a loss of a limb, or brain damage? I guess there is no end in sight. Perhaps, federalist would agree with that saying the grunts had in Nam: "Kill 'em all, Let God sort them out."

Posted by: bernie kleinman | Dec 21, 2007 4:09:12 PM

Federalist: Wich is worse, using a child as a sex toy, or using a child as a sex toy and then killing the child? A child used as a sex toy makes for a compelling state witness. If the penalty is death for both, it makes sense to kill the sex toy once one is done playing 'sex' with him/her.

Any law which encourages the murder of a rape victim is a stupid law, and should be unconstitutional based on irrationality. Anyone who supports such a law has not fully thought through the consequences, and is only thinking about the criminal act itself.

Posted by: bruce | Dec 21, 2007 4:23:14 PM

Bruce: while I do agree with the general tenor of your comments, I do not think that in many cases murder will follow a perverse sexual act if the actor believes his/her punishment will be the same. I am no expert in this area, certainly, but I understand that murdering the victim in many sexual assault cases is as much a part of the perversity as the actual sex act. My recollection, for example, is that BTK killer was as much "aroused" by the final act of murder as he was by the rapes and abuse. And, I think the same was true of Dalmer, among others. To me it is more an issue of the death penalty just not being a deterrent, and it merely being society's inability to finally reject the biblical eye-for-an-eye philosophy, even tho we live in the 21st Cent.

Posted by: bernie kleinman | Dec 22, 2007 1:12:10 PM

bernie: I agree about the motives of the crimes, but don't presume just because people are crazy they are irrational. I think legal ignorance of the exact level and corresponding sentence of a given crime (or what the actual act amounts to under the penal code) is more of a reason why, on average, murder won't follow rape assuming the law says the punishment will be the same. The average rapist in Louisiana would likely be quite shocked to learn that he can get the death penalty for child rape just as easily as with murder.

But I of course agree the death penalty is not a deterrent. But if you can kill the primary witnesses against you and not be subject to a higher punishment, you might as well do it. If smoking pot and murder both were punishable by death, and a cop caught me smoking pot, I'd like to think I'd be rational enough to kill the cop. Not sure if I could really kill someone (I suppose anyone could be driven to murder). But if the choice is be arrested by the cop and get executed, or kill the cop and have a chance at not being executed (or at least postponing it), there is only one rational choice.

Posted by: bruce | Dec 23, 2007 3:13:09 AM

Bruce: do you know of any empirical data that provides a mathematical coefficient of correlation between a criminal's knowledge that his next act will result in a possible death sentence and his actually committing the act. This is perhaps the best method to evaluate this scenario. I know of none. Perhaps the Professor is aware of such study[ies].

Posted by: bernie kleinman | Dec 23, 2007 1:22:49 PM

"Intellectually speaking, I don't support Louisiana's law, but if this turkey gets executed, I won't have a problem with it. Additionally, I would not support the Supreme Court striking down Louisiana's law--there is no doubt that executing these kind of sex offenders is constitutional.

Using a 5 year old as a "sex toy" is about as disgusting as one can be. Let's hope this child can get the help she needs as well."

You prove a point I am about to make. Not so long ago 'child rape' was labeled child molestation. Then the media and politicians started throwing around 'child rape' in order to glorify a already bad situation and to justify in everyone's mind the need for tougher laws.

This prosecutor used the term 'sex toy' in order to glorify the situation in order to get the sentencing he wanted. Then using the word 'sex toy' seems to have justified the sentencing in your mind as well.

Nothing in this case seems to be any worse then the cases out there that get the offender 5 years or 10 years in prison in other states and/or the past.

I see a huge problem when sentencing from one court system to another can land one person in prison for 5 years then a similar situation in another state lands another offender with the death penalty.

Posted by: Mark | Dec 26, 2007 7:44:55 PM

I don't think the death penalty is in order here. However, I did a major research paper in college on castration. These kinds of offenders need to be physically castrated. In my research I found that the sex drive is greatly reduced by removing the testicals. In many cases the child molesters that I researched were relieved that they didn't have those continueous thoughts and desires anymore.
I think it's a win, win situation.

Posted by: Kelliedee | Jun 25, 2008 1:16:59 PM

I am the 5 year old girl's aunt, and I think he deserved everything he got, and more. Now the Supreme Court has decided that the death penalty he was sentenced to is unconstitutional. Where is the justice? My baby niece has been through so much, and yet here it is again where she has to go back to court, because the supreme court sent the case back to Louisiana courts for resentencing. What more does my baby have to go through before it is done? Extensive counseling, medication, and all the love in the world can't undo what those monsters did to her. Where is the justice in our country?

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