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