I didn't get around to reading the Chronicle until well after dark this evening, and I'm glad for that. The reason being that if I had read Rick Casey's latest holier-than-thou tripe in the paper, I probably would have just been irritated all day.
Casey has stepped to the defense of the Baytown juvenile who was charged with capital murder this week for murdering her newborn son. I don't know any more details than anyone else who has been reading the paper and/or watching the news, but my understanding is that the baby was found strangled, drowned, and had toilet paper crammed down his throat by his 14-year-old mother.
Gee, who wouldn't have sympathy for that?!
And, of course, Rick Casey is quick to assess who the real villain is in the scenario: Bill Hawkins, the Juvenile Division Chief of the District Attorney's Office.
Yes, let's quickly skip over the fact that apparently we, as a Society, are now quite comfortable with 14-year-olds having babies, and the fact that the 14-year-old should have had some parents to guide her in what to do regarding the child. Let's not blame the 14-year-old herself, either. Let's act as if a 14-year-old has the moral equivalency and intelligence level of a three-year-old, and excuse her right off the bat.
The real villains in this scenario are the prosecutors, yet again, because dammit, those kill-joys down at 1201 Franklin are just totally acting like they've got a stick up their butts when it comes to infanticide.
They dared to charge a 14-year-old with Capital Murder.
Well, guess what, Rick -- from everything I've read in the paper, it sure as hell seems to me that there's a lot of evidence to indicate that she did commit Capital Murder.
Casey's over-arching theme is more about the fact that the D.A.'s Office has a policy of charging the highest crime possible, and gosh-darnit, that's just freaking mean! What a stupid policy! The Office really should look long and hard at how they are filing charges. They really should be filing these charges as lesser offenses.
The guy who sexually assaults a six-year-old shouldn't be charged with Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, when a Class C Assault with "offensive touching" would work.
The guy who burns down his neighbor's house shouldn't be charged with Arson, when a simple misdemeanor of Criminal Mischief will do.
And the guy who goes and shoots a gas station attendant while he's stealing $20 shouldn't be charged with Capital Murder. Hell no, let's charge him with Class C Theft.
Casey surmises all kinds of facts that may or may not be in play, such as the 14-year-old just being confused or stressed out. I'm sure that's true, but it doesn't somehow make the charges of Capital Murder less appropriate.
Bill Hawkins cited a Chuck Rosenthal-era policy of always charging the highest crime possible. Although I wasn't familiar that this was an actual "policy", I fail to see the problem with charging a person appropriately for their actions, especially when it comes to a fatality crime. There are plenty of charges where filing the lesser offense may be appropriate (say for instance, a Class C paraphernalia case on a crack pipe rather than a felony Possession of a Controlled Substance).
But on a Capital Murder? Give me a break, Rick.
Casey talked to both Clarence Bradford and Pat Lykos about their views on the filing "policy", and both danced around the issue, saying that they would have to look at the facts. Although Lykos and I aren't exactly fans of each other, I can say that I found more assurance in her statements than in Bradford's. Her response was to look more at a totality of the circumstances, while Bradford's was more of a vow to stay away from a maximum punishment.
Casey's indignation continues on with the D.A.'s Office. Even after they dared to charge her with Capital Murder, they then dared to keep her detained! And Rick goes ahead and pontificates that the 14-year-old won't flee or commit any more crimes while awaiting trial. Man, it must be nice to be so omniscient.
God forbid that we treat this 14-year-old like a juvenile who has been charged with the most serious crime on the Texas books.
My favorite part of the article comes at the end, after arguing that we should be trying to help this 14-year-old child.
Here, Casey preaches: "That's what a civilized society does with 14-year-olds."
Are you freaking kidding me, Casey? What part of any of this is civilized? The part where a 14-year-old is having a baby? The part where that baby is choked to death on wet toilet paper? The part where a 14-year-old doesn't have any appreciation for human life or empathy for what she is doing to the most defenseless of all living creatures?
Are you really preaching that the only thing that isn't "civil" is the prosecution of this?
Rick, you really need to shake your moral compass a few times. I think that damn thing is broken.
I believe I will be siding with the baby that died in the toilet on this one.