Condemned to die
Prosecutors called the slaughter of 168 people in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building “the crime the death penalty was designed for,” and, Friday afternoon, after only 11 hours of deliberation, a jury agreed, sentencing Timothy McVeigh to death.
McVeigh, convicted two weeks ago of the nation’s worst mass murder, continued to be an emotional cipher. He did not flinch, he did not even blink, but sat with his hands clasped against his left cheek as the verdict was read.
His father’s shoulders slumped. His mother sat silently. His sister broke into tears. McVeigh’s parents had earlier in the week pleaded with the jury to spare their son’s life.
As he was led out of the courtroom, McVeigh waved to his family and mouthed the words “It’s OK.” He made the same small, two-fingered wave to the jurors who had just condemned him, nodding his head up and down. They stared blankly.
Eye for an eye?
The week began with the nation’s Catholic bishops - including William Skylstad of Spokane - speaking out against capital punishment and urging McVeigh’s life be spared.
“Let’s look at this moment as a wonderful moment of opportunity,” said Skylstad, of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, on a Sunday national news show. “Compassion and mercy are a tremendously creative act.”
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput put out a statement on his Internet site condemning capital punishment. “Killing the guilty is still wrong. It does not honor the dead. It does not ennoble the living.”
But many lay Catholics, including Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, differed. Keating said he hoped that “I don’t get driven into the sea because I am a Catholic” for supporting the death sentence for McVeigh.
Spokane County prosecutors lost for a second time Friday when a jury in the Joseph Andrews double murder case was unable to agree on a verdict.
Andrews, 27, was arrested three years ago for the execution-style killings of Eloise Patrick and Larry Eaves, who were shot in the head at close range.
At first, prosecutors pursued the death penalty against Andrews but a jury also deadlocked in that trial four months ago.
Now, Prosecutor Jim Sweetser must decide on a third trial in what is already the longest and most-expensive prosecution in county history.
Long journey home
Hundreds of Nez Perce Indians and friends gathered in the Wallowa canyonlands of northeastern Oregon Thursday to dedicate 10,300 acres that, officially, the tribe will manage as wildlife habitat.
Unofficially, the occasion was more emotional. The day marked the first permanent return for the Nez Perce to their beloved Wallowa homeland since the flight of Chief Joseph in 1877.
“It’s taken almost 120 years to the day for the Nez Perce to return to this area, this time as landowners,” said tribal leader Sam Penney, who noted the irony that traditional Nez Perce did not believe land could be owned.
When guns are outlawed…
… no one will have guns. At least that’s the hope in Great Britain, where lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a total ban on handguns. The bill was drawn up after a lone gunman, armed with four pistols, massacred 16 schoolchildren and their teacher in the Scottish town of Dunblane last year.
Old, old friends
Long before humans learned to sow wheat or build cities, back when we were simple hunters struggling for existence in a dangerous world, we had a companion in adversity.
A new study, based on analysis of genetic material, suggests that man’s relationship with the dog may have begun far earlier than the generally accepted date of 14,000 years ago and that the animal may first have become domesticated as far back as 135,000 years ago.
Which raises the question: What did man and dog have in common (besides scratching and sniffing, that is)?
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