Thursday, December 02, 2004

He was a quiet man, good neighbor, kept to himself, killed his wife and son

The Scott Peterson trial has officially entered its "Hitler painted posters and loved dogs" phase, wherein everyone who ever brushed up against Scott without his cutting his or her head off will be called to the witness stand by the defense to tell the court what a decent guy Scott is.

For example, the old high school buddy who recalled Scott as "truly sincere, very, very gracious, and very, very thoughtful." (Yes, and now we know exactly what he was thinking.)

Or the story Scott's dad told about the time his son rescued a baby rabbit that had fallen into the family's swimming pool, and carefully nursed the little lagomorph back to health over a period of several days. (The PETA folks would be proud. Kill the wife and child; save the bunny. I get the unshakeable image of Nicolas Cage in Con Air, intoning, "Put...the the box.")

Or the report by Scott's sister that her 14-year-old daughter corresponds frequently with Scott in jail, and that he writes back to offer his niece advice about her problems. ("Dear Jenny: If Teddy won't let you date other boys, have the chainsaw handy." Keep that girl away from sharp objects and fishing boats.)

Look, I'm the next-to-last person to trumpet the death penalty. I believe that irrevocable action should be taken — if indeed it's taken at all, given that I'm not entirely certain our often wobbly justice system can be trusted to exercise such power appropriately — to execute those unrepentant serial murderers who have represented a clear and present danger to the general public, whose crimes are not the least bit in question (as in: witnessed by dozens, or caught on videotape), and who are likely to kill others even while incarcerated. Were I on the Peterson jury, I'd vote against death in Scott's case, because he doesn't appear to meet any of these three criteria.

But let's not forget that this guy has been convicted — by a jury of his peers — of dismembering his pregnant wife, pitching her and their unborn child into San Francisco Bay, and preparing to take a powder to Tijuana with a suicide blond 'do and $10K in cash American. Let's not pretend he's Gandhi.

We don't have to slip him the permanent Mickey. But we ought not nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize, either.

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