I’ve been doing some thinking about the death penalty in Pennsylvania. Why have the death penalty if it is no longer carried out?
The last person PA executed by injection was in 1999. Gary Michael Heidnik was found guilty of kidnapping, imprisoning, torturing and murdering women in Philadelphia. Two women, Deborah Dudley and Sandra Lindsay, were raped, tortured, their eardrums were punctured and eventually murdered by electrocution while chained in the basement of Heidnik’s home. His home at 3520 North Marshall Street was only a few blocks from my mother’s family. My mother moved away in 1970 but her family remained there in 1986 when Heidnik began collecting women in the name of God to impregnate them and bear his children. Heidnik had established his own church and invested $1,500 in Playboy stock turning a huge profit of over half a million dollars.
Heidnik was caught on March 24, 1987 when one of his prisoners escaped and went to the police (who initially didn’t believe her) and they found the bodies of Dudley and Lindsay inside the house. They also found a rib cage in the refrigerator. Three women were still alive in the pit he dug in his basement. Heidnik freely admitted to murdering several other women. When found guilty he requested immediate sentencing. He was ordered to pay the victims family’s $34,000 each and $30,000 to his son from a previous marriage. His son stated, “I hope he gets the chair, I’ll even pull the switch.” The electric chair was no longer in use as it is considered unconstitutional to use to enforce the death penalty. Thirteen years after committing such heinous crimes, Heidnik was injected with a lethal cocktail. Had he not requested immediate sentencing, he may still be alive today.
In 1993 Hubert Lester Michael murdered the daughter of a close family friend. Michael admitted guilt in the murder of Trista Eng yet twenty years later he is still alive on death row. He also stated he wished to be sentenced immediately. Regardless of his request, his stay of execution has been held over and over. The most recent stay was in November of 2012. I’ve been following this case because I can’t wrap my head around why strangers would support saving Michael’s life. Trista’s life was cut short at sixteen at the hands of a man who left her body near Ski Round Top. What would be the purpose to keep this heartless killer alive? The Eng family deserves justice and closure yet it is denied over and over.
If an adult (I stress adult because I don’t believe in death or life sentences for minors) pleads guilty and is sentenced to death then the sentence should be carried out in 90 days or less. Not only would this save Pennsylvania a fortune in housing killers, it would no longer fund all the appeals the killer’s are “entitled to.” This could also make criminals think twice about murdering someone.
I know this type of super-quick sentencing and enacting the death sentence will never happen. The justice system is too soft. The good old USA is out of control. Don’t believe me? Watch the movie “Bowling for Columbine” and by the end of the movie you too will realize what a mess our country is.