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LETTERS: Victims deserve swift justice in Tucson shooting

The spectacle billed as a memorial service for those killed and wounded in the Arizona shooting rampage seemed more like one would expect at a sporting event or a political rally. The yelling, whistling and clapping are not what one might expect on such a solemn occasion. Recognizing the event was held on a college campus where many students are still in their formative years does not excuse ill-mannered, undignified behavior.

Everyone should closely follow what happens to the shooter who is charged with committing this dastardly act. Due to the snail's pace of our justice system, some of the victims will likely not live long enough to see this case brought to a close. What will be the years and cost to taxpayers of prosecuting this case in court? There appears to be good reason to question the efficiency and effectiveness of our courts. Defense attorneys will no doubt request a change in venue, which will likely be granted, even though the Sixth Amendment to our Constitution specifies "criminal prosecutions shall be tried in the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed." Defense attorneys will no doubt claim the shooter was not capable of knowing what he was doing. With a change in venue, they might even convince a juror or two. Who of sound mind can believe anyone could plan such an act, and carry it out, as reported by media, and not know what he or she was doing? Psychiatric tests will further delay the process. One might be led to think of it as job security for trial lawyers and the courts. Courts will soon be so expensive we won't be able to afford them. Has the wording in the Sixth Amendment, "the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial," become outdated? What ever happened to the premise that justice delayed is justice denied?

Contrast the foregoing scenario with the attempted assassination of President Franklin Roosevelt. He had just finished a speech in Florida on Feb. 15, 1933, when an Italian immigrant emptied a .32 caliber pistol at the president but missed and fatally hit the mayor of Chicago. Some others received lesser wounds. The mayor died from his wounds 19 days later on March 6, 1933. There being numerous witnesses, the shooter was charged with first-degree murder, pleaded guilty, and 14 days later, on March 20, 1933, was electrocuted.

A speedy trial? Being an eyewitness to a crime is powerful testimony. All those wounded would certainly be eyewitnesses, and would also qualify as "peers." When a sufficient number has recovered, empanel them as jurors to determine guilt. According to media reports, this crime would seem to fit both aggravated and premeditated murder. If found guilty, the death penalty should be imposed with the time for execution set, not to exceed 30 days. This would allow time for the defense to prepare an appeal, under the option that loser pays.

-- Grady Mullins

Conyers