Apr 242003

Sent to The New York Times today. OK, it’s barrel-fishing. I had some free time.

To the Editors:

Bob Herbert’s mendacious column of April 24th on the near-execution of Delma Banks Jr. in Texas omits every piece of evidence that convicted him. Banks was the last man seen with the murder victim, Wayne Whitehead. He unwittingly led the police to the home of Charles Cook, where a gun was found that was matched to the murder on unrebutted ballistics evidence. Cook testified that Banks showed up at his house the morning after the murder with the gun and Whitehead’s car. None of this was disputed at the time or to this day. It is true that the prosecution witnesses perjured themselves and later recanted on minor matters, that the prosecution committed various acts of misconduct, and that on this basis Banks probably deserves another trial. But “a complete reading of the record, including facts uncovered during his appeals, shows that he is most likely innocent”? Come on. If Banks didn’t commit the murder himself, he must know a good deal about who did. So why isn’t he talking?

Herbert is no better with logic. He hauls out the tired argument that the death penalty should be abolished because executions occur far more frequently when whites are the murder victims than when blacks are. Assume this is true. How does it prove that the executions that do take place are unjust? Justice is an individual, not a social matter. One could as easily conclude that more murderers of blacks should be executed.

Sincerely yours,