After 40 years, is justice really possible

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Carey Dean Moore was 21 when he shot an Omaha cab driver while he and his 14-year-old brother were robbing him to buy drugs and pornography.

Five days later, he shot another, he said, just to prove he was capable of taking a man’s life on his own.

Arrested after a week, he was eventually convicted of first-degree murder and his younger brother of second-degree murder.

Thirty-nine years later, at 60, Carey Dean Moore, who had apologized for leading his brother down the wrong path, told his family he loved them and lay still while he was injected first with Valium, then the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, then a drug to induce paralysis and another to stop the heart.

Witnesses said his face turned red then purple, his eyes briefly opened, his chest heaved and he took his final breath.

It was the first execution carried out in Nebraska since 1997, when an electric chair was used.

Members of the Unicameral said enough was enough three years ago, abolishing the death penalty.

Nebraska voters, however, reinstated the practice, influenced in part by personal funding from wealthy Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.

There are legitimate arguments on both sides of the capital punishment issue.

Proponents say it costs less to execute a prisoner than keeping one jailed for life, although others say the cost of appeals through the legal system negate any savings.

Would-be criminals may change their minds if they think they could face execution, and the crime rate increases without capital punishment, according to some studies.

More humane forms of execution prevent violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, proponents say, and the death penalty is just punishment for someone who commits crimes against the rights to life, freedom and safety.

Opponents point to innocent people who were wrongly executed and criminals who suffer from mental illness or clouded judgment at the time of their crime.

The death penalty is simply a form of revenge or retribution which only add to violence in society, opponents say.

It is also a form of discrimination, more likely to be carried out on minorities or the poor who are unable to hire effective defense attorneys.

Granted, Carey Dean Moore’s case was special, spanning hears of challenges, repeal and reinstatement of the death penalty.

But of all the questions surrounding capital punishment, perhaps the one his case illustrates most effectively is the matter of time.

Is justice delivered after a 40-year delay really justice at all?

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