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Md. judge advocates for death penalty, says convict may be greeted by devil

Sentencing hearings are often run-of-the-mill affairs. A defense attorney points out good things a convict has done outside of the matter at hand; prosecutors urge the judge to keep to the matter at hand; the judge hands down a sentence.

But a hearing Monday in Montgomery County Circuit Court sure broke that mold.

Judge Michael Algeo, who in another hearing got choked up while discussing Renee Bowman's horrific freezer murders, told a man named Jose Vasquez that he likely would be greeted by Satan upon his passing.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, played profanity-laced recorded phone calls placed by Vasquez from jail, where he gave a brother the following advice: Tell a potential snitch that if he ended up behind bars, he could order him raped.

By the end of the hearing, Algeo was so disgusted by what he said was Vasquez's complete lack of remorse that he said the case spoke to the need for capital punishment in Maryland.

"Anybody who wants to talk about the death penalty, and the need for the death penalty. Just look at this case, and look at your [Vasquez's] comments, post-trial. A human being that doesn't give a damn about life, about the sanctity of life, about anybody else's life. To me that simply argues that there is a place for the death penalty in this state."

Vasquez's crime wasn't eligible for the death penalty in Maryland, Algeo said.

Here is a recent story on death penalty discussions in the state. My colleague in Annapolis, John Wagner, tells me there was a bill introduced recently that would have expanded the types of evidence allowing for capital cases under last year's law, but that bill did not pass.

There's hardly enough space here to debate the death penalty, but we should give an opposing view. Longtime defense attorney Stephen Mercer -- who recently was named Chief of the Forensics Division for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender -- can to that as well as anyone.

This morning he called "state-sanctioned murder" wrong and said it doesn't act as a deterrence.

As for Vasquez, he suggested, perhaps his fate -- spending the rest of his life behind bars -- is worse.

"Make the man live with himself for the rest of his life," Mercer said.

The Post's DataPost page includes links to databases of Maryland and Virginia executions.

-- Dan Morse


By Dan Morse  |  April 20, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Dan Morse , Death Penalty , From the Courthouse , Maryland , Montgomery  
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Comments

"Anybody who wants to talk about the death penalty, and the need for the death penalty. Just look at this case, and look at your [Vasquez's] comments, post-trial. A human being that doesn't give a damn about life, about the sanctity of life, about anybody else's life. To me that simply argues that there is a place for the death penalty in this state."

*sigh*

This only proves that Judge Algeo doesn't give a damn about the sanctity of life.

The death penalty is something the government and the people of a state do, not something criminals do. Do we care about life or are we just the same as Jose Vasquez?

Judge Algeo has made it clear he is ok with being a murderer, but luckily, he isn't the one who gets to decide.

Abolish the dealth penatly, everywhere, now. It has no place in a just society.

Posted by: cassander | April 20, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

the death penalty is simply cruel and also torture.
it does not prevent crime. it does not save money.
it can also lead to innocent people being put to death.
the desire to kill someone and see them suffer is the same desire that is in the hearts of both murderers and those calling for the death penalty.
the government should not satisfy those desires for anyone.

Posted by: MarilynManson | April 20, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

People who advocate the death penalty don't necessarily want to see a criminal suffer. The idea behind capital punishment is that just as a murderer took a life, so should the murderer's life be taken. Anyway, it always amazes me that most people would recognize the right of a person to defend themselves---Vazquez's victim could have shot, stabbed, beaten Vazquez in self-defense and no one would blame him---but in some people's eyes, the state has no right to defend Vazquez's victim and the laws of the state in the same way: by taking Vazquez's life. Murder is an attack on an individual and an attack on the structure of society. I would have no problem with the state of Maryland killing this thug, just as I would have no problem with his victim killing him in self defense.

Posted by: mercredi | April 20, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

How can this judge be on the bench with these types of feelings? It wouldn't seem fair if you came before him on a serious case.

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | April 20, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

People who advocate the death penalty don't necessarily want to see a criminal suffer. The idea behind capital punishment is that just as a murderer took a life, so should the murderer's life be taken. Anyway, it always amazes me that most people would recognize the right of a person to defend themselves---Vazquez's victim could have shot, stabbed, beaten Vazquez in self-defense and no one would blame him---but in some people's eyes, the state has no right to defend Vazquez's victim and the laws of the state in the same way: by taking Vazquez's life. Murder is an attack on an individual and an attack on the structure of society. I would have no problem with the state of Maryland killing this thug, just as I would have no problem with his victim killing him in self defense.

Posted by: mercredi | April 20, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

-----------------

Possibly the worst reasoned defense of the death penalty I have ever read.

You don't get the difference between self defense and murder? Really?

Also, I love this sentence "The idea behind capital punishment is that just as a murderer took a life, so should the murderer's life be taken."

So you're saying that because it is wrong for someone to take a life, it's OK for others to take that person's life? Does this make any sense?

Death penalty supporters are going to need to come to grips with the fact that the same evil that lies in men like Vasquez, lies in them also.

Posted by: ghokee | April 20, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I used to be an opponent of the death penalty, but these punks today are so evil they deserve to die.

I suugest we shoot them in the head right after the guilty verdict or handcuff them to a bus bench with a sign that anyone can do anything they want to them.

Posted by: jhayne5 | April 20, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

After enforcement of immigration laws by neighbouring virginia counties, many Vasquez are roaming montgomery county committing crime. You can covict them all you want but without death penalty there is no valid deterrant. Giving them sentences which are cut in half or even less due to appeals and good behavior is really mocking of the justice system. The brother who killed three Washington state police officers while they drank coffee at starbucks was sentenced to a lengthy sentence but was pardoned by then Governor Huckabe in Arkansa. That rehabiliated brother went out and killed innocent people.

Posted by: Jim110 | April 20, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

The death penalty isn't a deterrent is because it takes forever to administer. While I, and anyone with any sense, would want to make sure that the right person is fried the administration of justice needs to be swift. I bet that as soon as some of these idiots start seeing their brethren toasted on live TV, yes - televise it, I can assure you that a lot of the lunacy will cease.

Posted by: tradervic1313 | April 20, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Ok, so then if someone is convicted of robbery, we should--as a state--rob them? If someone is convicted of rape, we rape them? If assault--we assault them? If we use the logic that a murderer took a life so we should take his, then that would be only fair.

The thing is, these things are CRIMES, and you don't punish a crime by perpetuating MORE crime.

Posted by: zenith1 | April 21, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

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