Lingzi Lu and MIT Officer Sean Collier “weren’t always just the victims of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,” a prosecutor told teary-eyed jurors yesterday as the stories of those murdered in the marathon bombings continue to dominate the death penalty sentencing trial.
“She was a beautiful nerd,” Lu’s Rhode Island aunt Jinyan “Helen” Zhao testified about the Boston University graduate student.
Lu, 23, who’d been in the Hub only eight months when she was killed by the bomb blast in front of the Forum restaurant, “loved everything good in life,” Zhao said. “She told me, ‘I can’t wait to see how pretty Boston will be in the spring.’?”
Zhao said her niece, a product of the Chinese government’s one-family, one-child population-control policy, had an insatiable appetite for love stories and desserts — even devouring an entire pumpkin pie during her first Thanksgiving in the States.
Her parents, still too stricken to travel here for the trial, made the gut-wrenching decision to bury their only child in the city she’d come to love, laying her to rest in a tiara and pink bridal gown with a music box and her favorite books. “I think they just felt she was part of Boston, part of the city, so the thing is she should be here,” Zhao said.
Jurors also heard yesterday from Joseph Rogers and Andrew Collier, the stepfather and younger brother, respectively, of Sean Collier, 27, who Tsarnaev and his older brother shot to death three days after the terror attack.
“I miss Sean. I miss everything about him,” said Andrew Collier, 27, a NASCAR machinist living in North Carolina. Sean, he said, was “a moral compass … right down to, ‘You can’t kill a bug, you have to put it outside.’ He was an amazing person.”
I suppose there’s some irony in that story being shared at a death penalty hearing. [Bleep] irony.
I opposed the death penalty as a liberal because, well, I was a liberal. I still oppose the death penalty as a conservative because, well, I was a liberal.
I suppose my best argument is also my weakest one: checking the power of the state. Once the criminal has been tried fairly and convicted, the state has already won. The murderer (or guilty party in some other capital crime) is already at the mercy of the state, never to see freedom again if the state so declares. State executions make me queasy. They are the default punishment of barbarian states like our friends, the Saudis, or Iran. That’s not my style.
But I have “evolved” on the issue, as Obama would say, to make exceptions. Does the convicted criminal still pose a threat? Has he killed or tried to kill while in prison? Will he? Even another murderer unfortunate to be locked up with our hypothetical sociopath does not deserve himself to be murdered just because we lacked the stomach to do what decency demanded of us.
And what about crimes so horrific that it is indecent to imagine the perpetrator alive? Timothy McVeigh of recent memory; Adolf Eichmann to name just one of the past. Not every murderer is a Mengele, but Mengele was. To argue for his life out of “justice” is perverse. (Mengele never met “justice” at all, having escaped to South America and having lived to age 67.)
Tsarnaev’s crimes, it seems to me, have to be judged in that light. Even though big brother, Speed Bump, was the ring-leader (if two sick brothers can form a ring), and he was the one who assassinated MIT police officer Sean Collier, it was only junior’s pressure cooker that actually took lives. He was the one standing so casually behind the Richard family before leaving his weapon of mass destruction to kill 8-year-old Martin and two others.
Is that a smile on his face? He should die just for that. Even if the Richard family disagrees. (As coaxed to by the Boston Globe, front page, above the fold, in large font.)
Much of my reconsideration of previously held beliefs has been tutored by writers I have come to admire—in this case, my rebbe Dennis Prager. His defense of the death penalty shows none of the tortured anguish I still betray. The issue is morally crystal clear in his mind. As I say, there’s much about Prager I admire.
I still oppose the death penalty, but with exceptions. I still support abortion, but with exceptions. My prejudice is toward life. That gets me through my qualms. Tsarnaev should die.