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I wrote about the James Cooke rape/murder trial a couple of weeks ago. Cooke broke into University of Delaware student Lindsay Bonistall’s apartment to rob her. He did that, but he also raped and murdered her. Afterward, he placed her body, clothes, and other personal items into the bathtub and set it on fire to destroy evidence. It didn’t work out the way he planned. DNA evidence, by an ever so slim margin of 671 quintillion to 1, concluded that he had raped her. Additional circumstantial evidence took care of the rest. The jury convicted Cooke on all counts.
The same jury must now recommend to the judge whether Cooke should be executed or be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. Afterward, the judge will set a sentencing date. While the judge is not obligated to follow the jury’s recommendation, he must give it “great weight.” I’m sure judges know what “great weight” means,” but lots of people are confused as hell about it.
What? Do capital murder judges use some sort of judicial curve when figuring in “great weight?” Is it a mathematical thing? Is it like the ones college professors use? I mean, like, suppose a professor tells you that he’s going to calculate your final grade using your tests’ average. BUT, and here’s the interesting part, he’ll be assigning “great weight” to your classroom participation. However, he’ll not be obligated to adhere to it. Does this mean that if your tests average to a “C,” you could end up with an “A” after the “great weight” thing? Or, if your tests average is “B+,” might you end up with a final grade of “D-,” once the old prof does the “great weight” routine?
So, would someone, ANYONE, please explain what “great weight” means in the judicial sense? A lot of people are just flat out confused over this!
I’ve seen juries recommend life without parole by a vote of 11 to 1. The judge, after doing the “great weight” magic, handed down a death sentence. Other juries have recommended the death penalty by a vote of 7 to 5, while applying the same “great weight” routine, the judge agreed with the vote. A couple of years ago, a jury voted 10 to 2 for the death sentence, but, after the judge did the “great weight” routine, he handed down a life with no parole sentence. Seems confusing, wouldn’t you say?
In the meantime, Cooke has devastated the Bonistalls on a personal level that is beyond anyone’s comprehension at the clinical level. Multitudes of illiterate legal neophytes have posted numerous vicious malignments about Cooke’s court-assigned lawyers. They’ve also accused the trial judge of everything from being a liberal pansy to conducting a circus act, “great weight” notwithstanding, of course.
I take no moral stand on the death penalty. If society wants to impose it, go for it, as long as it passes Constitutional muster. But, I’d be just as comfortable with a life without parole sentence. I consider Cooke to be nothing more than a rogue, killer-mutation that society needs to deal with. Either execute him and be done with it, or put him in a maximum-security prison for the rest of his useless, miserable life. With any luck at all, Bubba will take a special liking to Mr. Cooke, if you get my drift. And, I’ve given the matter “great weight.”
It’s a given that the “God” people are going to be very upset with my attitude. They think we humans are special. I don’t, but I guess it all depends on this “great weight” business. As I said, lots of people are confused. I think I know what this “great weight” thing is about, but I’m going to wait until the judge sentences Cooke to tell you what I think.
I’ll be back next week. I hope your St. Patrick’s Day was happy and free from any DUI checkpoints. They were out in force in this neck of the woods. Here’s a joke sent to me by one of my readers. Enjoy!
Gallagher opened the morning newspaper and was dumbfounded to read in the obituary column that he had died. He quickly phoned his best friend, Finney. “They say I died!!” “Yes, I saw it!” replied Finney. Where are ye callin’ from?”
Joseph Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. Copyright laws apply to all material on this site. Send your comments. Just click here.