Like most in the Philly region, I’ve been thinking a lot about the recent murders of four young men by a crazed drug dealer (I’m not going to use his name, may he rot in Hell). I’m also not going into the details of this horrific crime, you can click the link to read all about this shocking crime. Safe to say it’s one of the worst crimes I’ve ever seen in my 50 years of living in Philly and that says a lot. Philly is a pretty violent big city sometimes. This drama played out over the course of the last week. All of us have been hanging on every detail, scouring social media, waiting for the next press conference and watching morbid footage via the internet of investigators digging up a local farm in search of the victims. It’s ghastly, haunting. At the height of the drama, something unusual happened: The prime suspect confessed because the District Attorney offered him a deal that took the death penalty off the table. And like that everything changed.
Up to that point, this case was following the script- the breathless media accounts from the crime scene, the stoic press conferences, the endless speculation on local talk radio, the internet gossip, the police activity at various locations around the region, it was all bizarrely routine for a high-profile murder case. And then it all changed with the confession. Suddenly all the facts came out. The motive, the time line, the accomplice, the play by play account of a pair of stone cold killers murdering four young men for essentially no reason. None of it made any sense and it never will. But the confession changed everything.
Suddenly the main suspect was nonchalantly led away in handcuffs and a red prison jumpsuit looking as if his day was going as planned. Not a whiff of suffering, no remorse, no apparent inconvenience. The guards even took their time escorting him seeing he was wearing leg shackles. He didn’t LOOK like someone who at twenty years old was going off to spend the rest of his life in prison. Utterly anti-climatic. For those of us who were really disturbed by this case, it doesn’t compute. It’s tough to wrap our heads around this scenario. We all want closure, but we just weren’t ready for this. That’s part of our problem- we’re so civilized.
Our system of justice demands impassionate adherence to the rules and processes that are in place to protect all our rights and that usually takes time, often years. That demands painstaking, methodical and determined perseverance. It means detailed evidence collection and detailed statements. It means precise forensics and it means all of that will be challenged by the defense. Yes, we are so civilized we allow the accused to defend themselves even in the face of overwhelming facts. Without this confession, we wouldn’t be looking at a trial date within the next year. They may not have found all of the victims. Sometimes being so damn civilized really sucks.
I’d like nothing more than to take these two animals to the town square, tie them to cars and publicly rip them to pieces. But the District Attorney had a tough call to make- the authorities knew the victims were dead. The time and toll the investigation takes on everyone (law enforcement, families, friends, and public) the uncertainty of not knowing the details and the potential for the trail of evidence to get cold, lost or compromised the longer the process drags out, means time is against you. You must build a case that will get a conviction.
It’s also critical to return the victims to their families ASAP, they need closure from this nightmare if that will ever be possible. Making a deal that will put the accused in jail for life (the accomplice may still be vulnerable to the death penalty) is really locking down what will most likely happen to them anyway since Pennsylvania is so opposed to carrying out death sentences even for depraved maniacs like the two accused here.
This deal also gains information, the weapons, the entire story, the accomplice and motive all necessary for a conviction. This is now an open and shut case, without putting everyone through a lengthy and painful trial and accompanying media circus with an outcome that would have been essentially the same. There’s a real possibility the defense may have invoked an insanity defense and there is a lot of credence to the theory that it may have worked. The accused main suspect, in my opinion, is clearly a psychopath with previously documented mental health issues. That may or may not have been enough to somehow defer or lessen his penalty. You never know what a jury will decide even in a case like this.
This plea essentially begins the end of the case. In little more than a week these young men had their lives snuffed out. Those responsible were apprehended, confessed to their crimes and their penalty decided with the stroke of a pen. It’s all too neat and bewildering. We are just so civilized.
After a lot of consideration though, I’m not sure the DA couldn’t have overcome most of this. I’m pretty sure that fat bastard would have cracked sooner or later. It may have taken some time but he would have talked, him or his punk accomplice. The facts are so shocking a jury would have most likely convicted these animals and been home for lunch. The real consideration is the amount of pain the families would have had to endure. Maureen Faulkner’s pain immediately comes to mind. Had this case gone to trial they would have been subjected to endless court proceedings, relentless media stories, anniversary special reports and in twenty years a bunch of liberals making these killers grotesque, faux celebrities claiming they were really framed.
It’s a sad, sick situation and I thank God, I’m not the guy who had to make that call. I won’t criticize this decision. Not today. Not from where I sit. So, justice will be swift in this case. The killers will remain in jail where they already are, removed from society. We will never see them free again. The young men will be buried by their families who will forever struggle with the senselessness of this nightmare, like some sort of bad dream they can’t wake up from.
And the next time I see an internet video of some third world village lynching a killer or child molester I’ll think twice before casting aspersions on them. I’ll just tell myself we are so damned civilized…