From today’s Star, Friday, November 4th, 2005
Refusal to seek death penalty becomes political issue
By STEVE KRASKE
The Kansas City Star
The decision not to seek the death penalty in the Ali Kemp murder case turned political Thursday, with a Republican questioning District Attorney Paul Morrison, a newly minted Democrat.
“If this isn’t clear, if a crime that is this heinous and this awful doesn’t fit the death penalty statute, then what does?” state Rep. Eric Carter, an Overland Park Republican, said outside the Johnson County Courthouse.
Morrison, who met with reporters a short time before, defended his decision as one that was relatively straightforward and generated little controversy within his staff.
He said staff members spent months considering whether there was a way to go for the death penalty, but in the end, “I don’t think it was a close call.”
I haven't followed the Ali Kemp murder case with enough zeal to understand all sides of the story. I understand the father's pain. I wrestle myself with my thoughts about what I'd want if my son or husband were murdered.
To tell you the truth, I'd want mercy. But that's the way I feel today. It hasn't happened to me. If it ever did, I might change my mind.
Enough of me. To recap: Paul Morrison, Johnson County DA just changed parties and is planning to challenge current Kansas Attorney General, Phill Kline. Kline's campaign will probably focus on Morrison being "soft on crime." (my quotation marks--it's just a common term). Nevertheless, Morrison is enough of a professional lawman that he understands you can't just seek the death penalty. And since the young man convicted in the Kemp case is pleading "Not Guilty," I wonder what other evidence there is. To read a bit more on the proceedings in the Ali Kemp case, here's a link to an article in the Star.
Ali's parents and friends, I believe, have set up a a website in her memory.
I don't know all the legal ins and outs. Maybe Morrison has really shortcircuited his campaign. I doubt it. He's doing his job and not seeking to score political points with this side or that. I don't know about you, but that's refreshing.
I do know enough though that for even the state to put someone to death,it's got to be really, truly well-deserved. How many of us can make that decision with equanimity?