Yesterday a Federal Judge deemed the death penalty ‘unconstitutional’. While many will see this as a victory for preserving the the sacred holiness that is human life, I want to remind you that some of those people deserve to die.
In an age where one can commit first degree murder and serve (decades) less than the man who falls under California’s ‘three strikes’ law selling crack cocaine… there is a problem. Yes there are people who sit on death row who plead not guilty. Yes there are innocent men and women on death row. Yes there should be more done to re-open these cases and free the wrongfully accused. I am not fighting you on that. But the issue is not black and white. We can climb towards a greater good in the justice system… But there are some, sitting on death row, who need to die.
A little over a year ago my Aunt posted on Facebook that it would have been my cousin Molly’s birthday. I paused realizing the age in which she died and thinking about how much I still had in front of me being just shy of the age she left us. A simple Google search led me to an article that quite frankly made me want to get on a plane to New Orleans to punch the self righteous ‘attorney’ highlighted in the article in the face.’
“These words are a far cry from the controversial and well-publicized 1998 trial in which Alford defended Jesse Hoffman, a current Angola death row inmate. Hoffman was convicted of first-degree murder in the Thanksgiving 1996 death of Mary “Molly” Elliot, a 28-year-old advertising executive abducted in her car from a CBD parking lot and killed in St. Tammany Parish. Alford lobbied unsuccessfully to have the trial moved to Orleans Parish, stating that most of the crimes were committed in New Orleans and that it was an ‘inner-city crime.‘
‘Another problem I have with the death penalty is that there’s no way to make it uniform and not subject to society’s prejudice or pre-conceived notions’ Alford says. ‘You can not devise a system that will fairly do it. Our current system is fair for a white middle-class male or female. Those people don’t get the death penalty. That offends me. In the case of Jesse Hoffman, it was a no-win situation. We had 15 mitigating witnesses, all African-American, on the stand for Hoffman’s defense. The jury’s eyes glazed over during the testimony of each one. An all-white jury? In Republican St. Tammany Parish? What chance does a black boy have against that?”
Molly Murphy Elliot was my cousin. I was a flower girl in her wedding when I was 6 years old. Two years later we had to bury her.
On Thanksgiving morning in 1996 I returned from a paddle boat ride on the lake to find my Father sitting on a bench with his older brother and their 80 year old Mother in-between them. They were all asking “why?” They were all weeping. My two sisters and I stared in disbelief. My Mother ushered us into a bedroom. There on a bed with my family my father told us that our cousin Molly had been killed. I was 8. My little sister was 3. My older sister was 13. Our cousin was 28. That is one of my first memories.
The ache in my chest seemed to fill up the entire room. I remember watching my parents collapse into our pain. 8 years old thinking of the pink dress with the pink rosebud that Molly had sent to our home just months before. The one she picked out for me. How beautiful she looked on her Wedding Day, her red lipstick, how her blonde hair framed her face. How my older sister looked at her. How she draped her hands over me and all of our cousins taking the photos. Her Christmas card that had been sent out with her husband and her two dogs staring happily into the frame near their fireplace. Admiring her. Our cool, eldest, beautiful cousin who was the first to get married and begin a new life for herself.
Our Aunt, My father’s sister, Molly’s mother, was in the airport when she found out. She was in a fucking airport on a layover rushing to New Orleans to try and find her missing child when she was told that her only daughter had been found dead of a single gunshot wound. It was Thanksgiving Day. She was surrounded by families. She would never see her child again.
My cousin was abducted from her place of work. My cousin was robbed at gunpoint. My cousin was taken to a dump. My cousin was raped. Court records show that Jesse testified that My cousin begged for her life. My cousin was ordered to march down to the end of the dock. My cousin was shot in the head. My cousin didn’t die instantly, records show she was likely alive for up to 10 minutes after the wound was inflicted. My cousin laid there and bled to death alone at the end of a dock at the age of 28 because of Jesse Hoffman.
Jesse Hoffman confessed. He was convicted for his crime. He then appealed his death penalty sentence stating LETHAL INJECTION was CRUEL AND UNUSAL PUNISHMENT. After all he had done, he has still learned nothing from his heinous act of evil.
Cruel and unusual. I think of that day. I think of that dock. I think of my beautiful cousin and what she must have thought as her life was turning into vapor. As she lost consciousness. As she died.
Some people deserve to die. For the 17 years that have passed since we lost Molly, I have been routinely vilified in ‘discussions’ for knowing that to be true. People look at me as if I am the monster as they vehemently defend the rights of ones who have stolen so much from so many.
As my home state takes away that right from the grieving victims of families and further ignores the truly unconstitutional elements of our ‘justice’ system; I stand up for my cousin and the other people who believe some people should answer a stolen life with their own. Some people deserve to die. Molly Murphy Elliot deserved to live.
“Today would have been her 45th birthday. Did you know that? Do you think Jesse knows that? We do. We miss her. Every single day.” – October 2013