As a matter of principle, I’m against the death penalty.
Whenever I get into an informal debate about the subject, I always say, “The Fifth Commandment doesn’t carry an asterisk.” Meaning “Thou shalt not kill” carries no exceptions.
I confess, however, that I’m a complete hypocrite. In my gut, sometimes, I can’t help rooting shamelessly for a guy to get the chair or the lethal injection.
Such is the case with Roderick Nunley, the lowlife, who along with his crack-cocaine-ingesting buddy Michael Taylor, killed 15-year-old Ann Harrison on March 22, 1989. After a night of consuming drugs, these two pieces of space junk were still out on the streets (despite the fact that Nunley had a young child of his own at home) while Ann was waiting for a school bus in eastern Kansas City.
In Sunday’s Star, crime and courts reporter Tony Rizzo wrote about Nunley’s scheduled execution Wednesday at the Potosi Correctional Center south of St. Louis.
A U.S. District Judge ruled today, Monday, that Missouri must hold off executing Nunley until sentencing issues are resolved.
In the story, Rizzo quoted Nunley as saying, “I truly regret what happened. I would do anything in the world to give that young lady her life back.”
Down deep in the story, though, two back-to-back paragraphs are very troubling. In the first paragraph, Rizzo said that Nunley has never tried to contact Ann’s parents, Bob and Janel Harrison “because it would only dredge up the painful memories.”
A stupider paragraph I have not seen in quite some time.
This guy has been in prison for 21 years. He’s been on death row for a long, long time. And he doesn’t think about what he did during the hour and a half that he and Taylor had Ann in their clutches that fateful spring morning?
Come on, Rizzo, this is too important a story to drop in a trite, completely disingenuous line.
Then, in the paragraph immediately following, Rizzo quotes Nunley’s elaboration on his reason for not attempting to contact the Harrisons.
“I know in my heart how I feel,” he said. “What could I say to them? I’m sorry?”
OK, Rizzo gets full blame for the first paragraph, but Nunley is fully responsible for the second.
He’s lying. There’s plenty he could say. “I am so, so sorry; I am sorry beyond any words,” would be a starting point. But we all know, don’t we, that not being able to come up with the right words isn’t the reason he hasn’t attempted to contact the Harrisons?
There are two reasons for that: He’s a coward, and he doesn’t care. He was an uncaring coward the day he participated in the rape and murder of Ann, and nothing has changed in 21 years. He just doesn’t want to die and is trying to put up a remorseful front, hoping that somehow it will help his case.
Nunley showed his true hand as recently as 2006, when he stabbed a Potosi manager in the head, collarbone and back with a 4- or 5-inch metal shard fashioned into a crude weapon. The manager survived.
That little episode didn’t make it into Rizzo’s story.
And so, whenever Roderick Nunley faces the executioner, we can bid him good riddance, and then I’ll go back to being against capital punishment…until it’s Taylor’s turn.