Callaway County serves as the starting point for a bizarro world twilight zone story from the P-D about the application of the death penalty in the Show-Me.
So, let’s get the scuba gear on and get this deep dive started.
In mid-Missouri’s Callaway County, there were 22 homicides from 1984 to 2012. Five were punished by execution, or about 23 percent.
If the same rate applied over that time to 4,462 homicides in St. Louis — a caseload of overwhelmingly black victims — the state would have executed 1,014 people from city cases. But there were just eight.
There hasn’t been a successful death penalty case out of the City of St. Louis since 1994, and that was a white perpetrator.
Why so few capital cases out of St. Louis? Because the perpetrators are also black. That, and the death penalty is almost always reserved for heinous murder causes; most black on black murders aren’t particularly heinous as far as murders go, just plain TNB.
Remember, Joe Mokwa told us back in 2001 that three-fourths of city homicides involve both a suspect and a victim that have similar life and criminal histories, racial code and dog whistling for black thugs as both perp and vic, which was in turn more dog whistling to white people that they shouldn’t worry about being murder victims in the city, which of course was belied by simple multiplication. But his fundamental point is right — The typical St. Louis City homicide is your typical TNB-ookfest Jamal-Shitavious showdown. It’s not worth all the time, work and effort to try to get the death penalty against whichever one wins the duel.
That disparity shows that Missouri’s application of the death penalty is arbitrary and so unfairly administered that it could be unconstitutional, according to a study released Thursday by University of North Carolina professor Frank Baumgartner.
It’s proof that black lives don’t matter as much as white lives, when it comes to applying the harshest penalty available, he said in an interview.
No, what it proves is that black murderers matter more than white murderers.
Baumgartner’s study said 80 people were executed in Missouri between 1976 and 2014, during a time when there were more than 11,000 homicides. The percentage of homicides that resulted in executions was very low: 0.7 percent. That increases to 2.1 percent when the victim is white but decreases to 0.3 percent when the victim is black.
That’s because a white murder victim is way more often the result of a heinous homicide, done mostly at the hands of another white person, but way too often, at the hands of a black person. Meanwhile, if a black is a murder victim, it’s usually TNB.
The Rev. Elston McCowan, the Missouri NAACP prison and criminal justice committee chairman, said the study represented what his organization has known “for a long time.”
“African-Americans and poor people receive disparate treatment in the criminal justice system,” he said. As for the death penalty, he said, “one way to equalize it is not to have it anymore.”
Okay, so does he want more black murderers to be executed for the sake of deterring future murders of potential black victims?
McCulloch noted the vast majority of homicides in St. Louis and St. Louis County are prosecuted as second-degree murder cases, which do not even qualify for the death penalty, because an essential element for first-degree murder — cool reflection — can’t be proven.
That’s one thing that the above numbers being thrown around miss. Not every homicide is a murder, not every murder is a first-degree murder, and not every first-degree murder has a heinous circumstance to justify the death penalty.
Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, in Sacramento, Calif., said the study was meaningless.
“Unfortunately there is an awful lot of violence in the inner-city areas, and a lot of that is gang-related and those tend not to be prosecuted as death penalty cases,” he said. “Another factor is the local jurisdiction. Black victim homicides tend to be in jurisdictions that have a high proportion of black population, and support for the death penalty is lower in that population (and) those jurisdictions tend to elect (prosecutors) who seek the death penalty less often and form juries who seek the death penalty less often.
And yet another factor is that so many black on black murders are TNB; even if premeditation can be proven, the circumstance isn’t really heinous. And also, in our day and age, trying to execute a black murderer is very politically problematic.
For some, the disparity may be hard to see. Missouri has executed five men this year, a time period that was not part of the study. Three were white; two were black.
It’s been the same trend for decades. Of the 80 men who have been executed between 1976 and 2014, 48 were white, 31 were black and one was American Indian.
Nationally, a white person who is convicted of first degree murder is twice as likely actually to be executed than a black convicted of first degree murder.
But discrepancies are stark when one considers the race and gender of the victim. Homicides involving white victims are seven times more likely to result in executions than those involving black victims. Homicides of women or girls are 2½ times more likely to result in executions than those of men or boys. Homicides involving white female victims are 14 times more likely to result in executions than those involving black male victims.
And while black males make up 52 percent of all homicide victims, people who kill black males are the least likely by far to be executed.
Homicides of white or female victims tend to be the heinous circumstance variety if first degree murder caliber premeditation can be proven. Homicides of black men tend to be TNB/impulse-driven by other black men that doesn’t often rise to the level of first degree murder.
Just one white person has been put to death in Missouri for killing a black person: a member of a white supremacist prison gang who murdered a 78-year-old black man during a robbery.
White on black murders in this state are pretty rare. Now, I bet if you take this same set of circumstances but make the perpetrator black and the scene of the crime St. Louis City, the murderer will probably only get convicted of second degree murder, because the robbery circumstance will make everyone think that the murder wasn’t premeditated.
Usually, the racial bitching when it comes to the death penalty is that blacks are executed too often. Now, the gripe is that blacks aren’t executed enough.
That is a very easy problem to remedy.