Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Two roads diverged in a courtroom

One down, one out. One did it, one didn't, at least not according to a preponderance of the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Scott Peterson was sentenced to death today
. The family of his late wife had some bitter and angry things to say, and I don't suppose I blame them. If a man killed my daughter, I'd utter a few choice words myself. That doesn't make the words right. But I understand why they were said. Laci and Conner Peterson didn't deserve to be turned into human bait. Almost no one does.

I don't understand the Robert Blake verdict. I wasn't in the courtroom every day, and the evidence I did see and hear was a mere fraction of everything that was presented during Blake's lengthy trial, but I thought I saw and heard enough to convict the man of murdering his wife. Unlike Laci Peterson, Bonny Lee Bakley was apparently no one's angel. But she was a human being, and the mother of a child. Whatever indiscretions she'd committed or confidence schemes she'd pulled, Bonny Lee Bakley didn't deserve to be gunned down in an alley. Almost no one does.

Tonight, Scott Peterson heads for San Quentin's Death Row, where he'll spend at least the next decade while an interminable series of appeals plays out. Robert Blake is probably headed for the nearest Italian restaurant, where this time perhaps he'll be smart enough not to leave his gun on the table.

Back in the days when he played detective Tony Baretta on television, Blake frequently uttered the line, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time." Scott Peterson did the crime and will do the time, and quite possibly more than just the time. Robert Blake won't have to.

And that's the name of that tune.

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