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The plan Wednesday night was to have Aruba reporter Giovanni Lane in our last segment — F Block — talk about his recent interview with Joran van der Sloot. Right before the F Block was to begin, my line producer got in my ear and said, "We don't have Giovanni so we are going to do the G Block now" instead.
Needless to say, it was a surprise but something easily done by those of us who have been hosting shows for years. The only thing that did concern me as we did the fast change was whether or not we would get Giovanni for the G Block — the last segment of the show. If we did not, I would have to do something — alone — for the last few minutes in the G Block. This is not a pretty thought. At best, I could recite the linking verbs memorized in the 7th grade but that would only take 45 seconds. Our legal panel had left the studio so there was no option to put them back on the set and talk. So during the entire F Block I was wondering what I would be doing in the G Block... and worse, if I would be doing it alone.
During the break before the G Block, I was told they had reached Giovanni, so all was well... or so I thought. Before I was to interview Giovanni, I was to update you on another topic we had followed a few weeks ago and "toss" to a soundbite from a press conference. That's easy. I have done it a million times. I did the update... and then waited (tossed) for the tape to play, but no press conference. I thus sat there for a few seconds looking stupidly into the camera. You know that look: deer in the headlights. After what seemed like hours, I gave up... kept going and went to Gionvanni. It's never dull....
Since I have promised the behind the scenes of our show: Do you ever wonder what we do right before the show when the show seems "under control?" Well, last night we did something very unusual: We pored over Bernie Grimm's high school yearbook. We had been begging him to bring it in since he had described to us how he looked in the picture. And the picture? The picture of Bernie is beyond your wildest imagination! You would not believe it. Everyone who saw it loved it. We passed it around the D.C. bureau and also held it up to the camera before the show began so everyone in New York bureau who works on the show could see it. I am trying to figure out how to scan it into the blog — or perhaps I will display on our show. I have to figure out a way to show you. You won't believe it. It is very funny. (Incidentally, after heavy prodding by us, he pointed out his very cute high school girlfriend.)
Now for some e-mails:
E-mail No. 1
I am reminded every time I look at one of my boats of the youngster that was ordered murdered by Allen. I used to shop at Fran's Market when I lived in Fresno and the boat was owned by Ray and Fran. I lost a brother in law to the same kind of useless murder. I only wish that his killers could have gotten the death penalty like Allen.
E-mail No. 2
I am against the death penalty but not for any particularly high-minded reasons. I confess that I do believe executing people flies in the face of Christian principals but my reasons for opposing the death penalty are more pragmatic. The long legal maneuvering which goes on in these cases takes a very long time. By the time an execution is carried out, frankly, no one remembers the victims. Instead, we are forced to listen to twits like Mike Farrell and Jesse Jackson tell us what great guys these condemned murderers really are. I don't want to give the likes to Tookie Williams any additional face time. Life in prison should mean just that: until they are dead. We, as a society, can lock them away and try to forget they ever existed — nor more shots at another 15 minutes of fame for them and no listening to anyone sing their praises. Secondly, abolition of the death penalty would free up our judicial system allowing for a smoother progression through other cases — both criminal and civil. I know that survivors of victims often wish to extract the ultimate punishment for the people who murdered their loved ones but that is why we are judged by a jury of our "peers," not a jury of our victims.
E-mail No. 3
I am a retired police officer from California. In my 25 plus years as a law enforcement officer I have seen many escape the death penalty that earned it. It is called capital punishment, not capital deterrent. The death penalty is a punishment for the crime of taking another's life. We don't care if it deters someone from killing another. It deters that person convicted and sentenced from killing again.
Grand Terrace, CA
E-mail No. 4
What does the wheelchair have to do with his crimes? The guy got old — on my tax money. I could have used that money myself. I didn't commit a crime. Nobody has supported me for 10 minutes, much less 20 years. Political correctness is a sickness. I don't have it. I've paid my dues and paid my own way. I'm 63. I did my time in Vietnam. Got slapped in the face when returned. I never got an apology. Never expected one. I know right from wrong. Right doesn't have a reward, but wrong has a penalty. I am taxed to death. There is even tax on food in my state. That means that if I want to stay alive, I have to pay the state. The blind wheelchair guy killed some people he didn't want to live. That's wrong and he has to pay a penalty. His health has nothing to do with "anything." FOX speaks of his health but not his crimes. FOX has political correctness sickness.
Get over it. FOX is part of the problem. This sickness is killing this country. FOX should be expounding on his crimes and how much he has cost the taxpayers.
How much are these murderers costing Americans? It's expensive to support these kinds of people. How many people have been assigned to him: Medical people, legal people, security guards, dieticians, psychologists, prison administrators, media people? How many American have a free staff like that?! Just retired politicians... nobody else!
This political sickness is killing the spirit of America.
E-mail No. 5
I wanted to comment on the upcoming execution of the 75-year-old man on death row. I am a former California resident but this state needs to get with the program. This criminal along with the recent execution of Tookie Williams have taken up to 25 years in the appeals process to get them to their execution dates. This is ridiculous that the citizens of California continue to pay to house, feed, and medicate these criminals for up to 25 years when other states can go through the appeals process in half the time. The victims of these criminals have not been around for the past 25 years and deserve justice. Just because someone is now in serious medical condition or written a children's book doesn't erase their criminal actions. The victims need to be heard and not the criminals! Thank you and keep up the excellent reporting on cases that matter.
Frank Drake Jr.
E-mail No. 6
You must have fun reading all our e-mails and seeing the diversities in each and every one of us. One observation I made in today's e-mails is that of E-mail Nos. 3, 5 and 7: All three appear to be from self-pronounced Christians yet they have different interpretations of what God, or Jesus, believes we should do with the death penalty.
One says that we need to send the offender to God, kind of a "shoot them all and let the Lord sort it out" mentality. Another was pro-death penalty but now "practices" Christianity and is against it. Never have understood the use of the word "practice"... like "she's 'practicing' law" or "he's in medical "practice." I used to "practice" flying but I don't think you would trust me as your pilot in command if I were to announce that over the PA system. Anyway, the third e-mailer appears to simply have a problem with someone using the word "God."
I know religion can be a good thing, but I'll bet if you got just these three together you'd have one hell of an argument on your hands... uh-oh, didn't mean to use the word "hell."
Have a great New Year's and let's hope we can all do it again next year.
E-mail No. 7
It may take twenty or more years, he may be an invalid, but its good riddance to bad rubbish. It is a wonderful day on earth for the human race getting rid of this sub-human trash. God Bless the executioner!
E-mail No. 8
I am responding to an e-mail that was sent by another viewer. She stated that it costs more to execute an inmate than it does to keep them in prison for life. I would like to know where this data is found. Also why should this be about a financial burden, instead of justice. I have yet to see anyone talk about the victims of Tookie Williams or the wheelchair-bound inmate. It is a hard fact to face but some people deserve to die for their crimes, I know because we wouldn't have the death penalty it that wasn't the case. Recently a childhood friend was murdered and my best friends brother was stabbed in the same incident, if I could stick the needle in the individual who did, I would. Let make these stories about the victims and less about the killers.
E-mail No. 9
Yes, this old man deserves to be executed for his crime. He had his days in courts, and numerous appeals that have all resulted in his being scheduled for death. The major crime in this California sentence is that it has taken so long for the sentence to be carried out.
Do me a big favor will you? Please kindly advise your viewers that “life in prison without the possibility of parole” in California does not mean that society is guaranteed that person will die in prison. All it means is that if and when that person is released he or she will not have to report to a parole officer.
Probation officer emeritus from California.
E-mail No. 10
Age and physical condition should not be a mitigating factor in any execution. Suppose Hitler had escaped and 50 years after WWII was found living next door to you bound to his wheelchair? Personally I would like to see the man on death row live for the next 300 years in his condition. I am reasonably sure he would view his execution as a blessing given his present condition.
E-mail No. 11
I know that by now you've probably gotten thousands of e-mails concerning Clarence Ray Allen. Even so, here is another one...
I assume from I have read that he did not have the same health problems when he committed his crimes as he has now, however, what does his health have to do with anything? Did he take the health of his victims into consideration? Doubtful. Also, ask anyone who knows much about people like him and you'll hear that many a people have committed crimes while in a wheelchair, blind, with heart problems, missing a limb, etc. Bad health does not a lawful person make.
Now, responding to an e-mailer, I am a Christian and in a lot of instances I do believe in the death penalty. In some of those cases I believe I could even be person that executes the prisoner. Not all, but some.
I pray the souls of those people, I really do. I even pray for their families as they did not ask for this person to almost destroy their lives. But do I pray for the lives of those on death row? Nope, never.
In short? Someone commits a heinous crime and gets sentenced to death for it, they death is what they should get for it. Now I know that sometimes an innocent person is given the death penalty, so, I do believe that when DNA is there it should be retested just in case, once and only once. Where there is no DNA, then maybe a couple of appeals, then that should be it. But in no case should the heath of the prisoner be used to get them out of the sentence they received.
The people who perform the executions, it must take an extremely strong person to do this job and stay okay. I for one, applaud them.
E-mail No. 12
How do I become a California executioner? The "supply" of death row inmates is inexhaustible at the rate they execute. What does it pay for only working about a dozen days a year? Could I supplement my income by selling videos?
E-mail No. 13
Thank you for offering up your four attorneys commenting on the shooting of a fellow lawyer. They showed their utter hypocrisy when it was a lawyer whom was shot, rather than a mere "peasant" amongst the "ordinary" people. Not once did any of the four mention the word "alleged" referring to the individual going to trial. Thousands of feet of similar footage illustrating similar actions by others, but the lawyers on both sides continued to use the word "alleged;" a different story when a lawyer is shot.
ANSWER: Ah, I think no one used the word "alleged" not because the victim was a lawyer, but because we WATCHED the shooting — five shots — on videotape. It would have been stupid to say "alleged" — you could SEE it for yourself. Even more importantly, the accused is not saying he did not do it. He said he did it but that he had a legal excuse — that some medication making him essentially insane.
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