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September 19, 2007

A better poster child for the death penalty for child rape

This local South Carolina story and this AP coverage provides the sentencing outcome in a particularly horrible child rape case:

Vinson Filyaw was sentenced to the maximum sentence of 421 years, served consecutively, for kidnapping a 14-year-old girl a year ago and sexually assaulting her in a dirt bunker for 10 days near Elgin. Filyaw pleaded guilty Tuesday to kidnapping, 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual assault, impersonating a police officer, possessing explosives and attempted armed robbery.

Filyaw, 37, posed as a police officer and handcuffed the girl last September as she walked toward her home from a school bus stop. He took her into the woods and kept her captive in a bunker booby-trapped with homemade explosives.  The girl escaped after using Filyaw’s phone to send her mother a text message, helping authorities find the bunker’s location.... Filyaw said the rape and kidnapping spurred from a grievance with the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Department over a separate charge of sexual assault on a 12-year-old girl from 2005.

In this post about the Kennedy capital child rape being appealed to the Supreme Court, I explained why Patrick Kennedy does not fit the image of a monstrous predator sex offender perhaps deserving of a death sentence.  I would not make the same assertion about Vinson Filyaw. 

Notably, South Carolina is one on the five states that have made certain child rapes death eligible, but apparently capital punishment is available only when the victim is under 11 and the defendant previously has been convicted of sexual battery of a child.  See S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-655(c)(I).

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September 19, 2007 at 03:21 PM | Permalink


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While I'm against the death penalty for child rape in all cases, I agree with Professor Berman that the Kennedy case is a particularly poor choice of a defendant to execute. In the alternative, Berman suggests a case in South [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 20, 2007 10:23:51 PM


Filyaw is a better poster child, but the idea that a person who rapes an 8 year old child is not a monster is itself monstrous. That more monstrous acts happen does not make a monstrous act less monstrous.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 20, 2007 12:07:10 PM

Even being against the death penalty in general, it would be difficult to argue against it here; well, except for even if the death penalty were on the table for drunk drivers who kill, they should not get the death penalty if they do not kill, even if their drunk driving accident causes mayhem/paralysis. The word "accident" may throw the analogy off some, but the point is the person, man, woman or child, is still alive.

In relation to the DP as a means to encourage a guilty plea, what of

Most potentially far reaching was a holding that invalidated the penalty structure of a statute under which defendants could escape a possible death sentence by entering a guilty plea; the statute ``needlessly encourage[d]'' waivers of defendant's Fifth Amendment right to plead not guilty and his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. Jackson v. United States, 390 U.S. 570, 583 (1968).


Posted by: George | Sep 20, 2007 4:32:44 PM

Student of Criminal Law, Forensics, and Crime Scene Investigation, as well as Psychology and Moral Ethics.

I am in agreement that the death penalty should be enforced for all Child Rapists as well as sexual predators.

Posted by: Mr.Robinson | Mar 7, 2008 10:23:41 PM

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