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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Raul Garcia-Gomez: No Death Penalty, No Life in Prison

Raul Garcia-Gomez killed an off-duty officer in Denver about a month ago. After being denied entry into a party where the officer, Donnie Young, was working, Garcia-Gomez got a gun, came back to the venue, and shot the Officer Young and Officer Bishop. After running from Colorado to California, and then back to his native Mexico, Garcia-Gomez was captured and will face extradition to face charges here in Colorado.

Good news, no? Not as much as I had originally thought, it turns out.

Tonight, I’m seeing news that Garcia-Gomez’s extradition is contingent on our DA signing away both the death penalty and life imprisonment for Garcia-Gomez. While the family of the murdered officer are happy that it looks like Garcia-Gomez will be coming back to Denver to face justice, and I bow to their judgment and will on the subject, I find myself unhappy about the deal. While a no death penalty deal wouldn’t have bothered me in the least (at least partially since I’m opposed to capital punishment), the idea that Garcia-Gomez, if prosecuted successfully, couldn’t face life imprisonment seems purely wrong.

His was no accidental murder; it was the intentional, petty, premeditated killing of a police officer. While no punishment can be meted out that makes the murder go away--Donnie Young, sadly, will never come back to his wife and family--this seems to be a clear situation where life imprisonment would be warranted. I’m disappointed that our friends to the south are willing to go this far in dictating punishment due a murderer who, in so many ways, abused the hospitality of America.

I’m hoping that the story that I’m hearing on FoxNews tonight is wrong.

For background.

Update: While Andy isn’t talking about the extradition deal, he does seem to have the same low opinion of Garcia-Gomez that I have.

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Ira Einhorn anyone?

on Jun 05 2005 @ 09:23 PM

Do you think there’s any way to get around the deal? Perhaps our DA could agree to it and then the Feds could prosecute for a life sentence.

That would probably just make things worse for the future, though. The Mexicans would never extradite anyone ever again, and I suppose we should just be happy we can give the guy 40 years.

on Jun 05 2005 @ 11:34 PM

I think that DA needs to get his priorities straight.

Although, in his defense, I can see making a deal so that we could at least keep track of Garcia-Gomez for the next twenty-five years or so. . .if he’s left in Mexico, he’ll be crawling across the border quicker than you can SAY extradition.

A tragedy all the way around.

on Jun 05 2005 @ 11:55 PM

Should have just plugged him in the head while he was hiding, claim he had a gun and fired on the officers.  You know, he’s clearly not scared of gunning down cops.

OK, fine, yes yes “rule of law” and I’m all for it, but it’s nice to think about huh?

on Jun 06 2005 @ 06:59 AM

Andy, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’d had the same thought.

on Jun 06 2005 @ 08:39 AM

This has to be one of the most complicated cases that I have ever seen. *grins* By the way, I do agree that it’s nice to think about having killed him before it turned into this huge mess. Basically, as far as I’ve gathered, if he’s extradited(and this is a HUGE if because the US government has ignored international pressure not to execute other Mexican nationals), then we obviously can’t give him either a death sentence or, thanks to a recent Mexican Supreme Court decision, life sentence without possibility of parole. And then, to add to that, there was another decision that said that the Mexican government can’t take the word of a prosecuter because they can’t promise anything and the judge can’t say, no we won’t put them to death because that would be deciding the sentence before the trial.
So, if Garcia-Gomez isn’t extradited, he’ll have to be tried in Mexico under this Article IV prosecution that allows Mexico to try him for crimes committed in the US. Unfortunately, the Mexican legal system is based off of Napoleonic Code, has presumption of innocence, no jury trial and traditional common law and statutory rules of evidence don’t apply. Witnesses rarely, if ever, testify in open court and the sentencing is controlled by the Mexican Federal Penal Code. The Mexican maximum sentence for murder is 60 years but this is often reduced in the Amparo, or appellate proceedings. Thus, he may never really be adequately punished for the cold-blooded gunning down of a police officer, which to my mind is beyond wrong. The only way I can really see this being fixed is with the intervention of someone like Condoleeza Rice who can try to negotiate with the Mexican government to give him at least as close to life in prison as we possibly can, even if we can’t have life. Or waiting and watching until he gets back over the border.

on Jun 08 2005 @ 09:10 AM

Thanks for that information--I feel both enlightened and depressed. I was actually wondering if our governor would try to get President Bush’s White House to pressure the Mexican government to turn over Garcia-Gomez; I also wondered if it would be much help.

on Jun 08 2005 @ 09:23 AM

As to that, I might be able to help a little. The governor could try, but because of the treaty and the Mexican Supreme Court decisions, pressuring the Mexican government probably wouldn’t do much good. They’re still angry with us over immigration issues and the execution of Mexican nationals and they have the right to not extradite Garcia-Gomez, there’s this whole revision of a law that says they can only extradite nationals under “exceptional” circumstances. I would consider these to be exceptional circumstances, but Mexico’s pretty proud about not having put anyone to death since 1937, so unless we can absolutely promise that he won’t get a death sentence or life without parole, there’s not much chance of getting him back. And personally, I don’t consider 60 years (at most) in prison, even if it is a Mexican prison) to be an adequate sentence for cold-blooded murder, particularly of a cop. *shrugs* And if you bring in all the immigration issues tied into the whole business, it’s a wonder we can function at all. And it’s incredibly depressing because it means that justice is, at best, a long wait away.

on Jun 08 2005 @ 11:08 AM
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