May 30, 2007
FEDERAL jurors recommend execution of George “Porgy” Lecco and Valerie Friend for the ruthless murder of 33-year-old Carla Collins. Lecco, 57, of Red Jacket, Mingo County, sold drugs out of his pizzeria. He promised dope to Friend, 44, of North Matewan, for killing Collins, a federal drug informant.
During the trial, jurors learned that Friend shot and beat Collins in an abandoned trailer near Newtown. Collins was 33 and had three children. Her children described visiting the shallow grave where her body was found months after she disappeared.
This murder was heinous and horrifying. Naturally, it stirs the normal human desire for revenge and retaliation. But we never think that government should stoop to the level of killing in return. Government is supposed to represent the finest ideals of intelligent citizens, not become a killer itself.
Almost every other civilized country — along with many American states, including West Virginia — has abandoned the practice of putting people to death.
There are logical arguments for ending executions. Killing criminals does not restore their victims. It does not reform anyone. Worse, courts and police sometimes make mistakes. Investigators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, doctors, judges can all make errors leading to conviction of an innocent person. Death is an irreversible judgment.
In addition to all those reasons, retaliatory killing seems nearly as reprehensible as the original crime.
Unfortunately, society includes monstrous villains who are not good candidates for rehabilitation. Society must protect itself from such people. Locking them in steel cages until they die both protects the public and punishes the killers, without staining the rest of society with more blood.