Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Impending Execution of Andrew Grant DeYoung

Andrew Grant DeYoung sits on death row awaiting execution on 20 July by the people of Georgia. He was convicted of murdering his family. I offer the following case summary from the 11th Circuit Court decsion in DeYoung v. Schofield.
On June 14, 1993, DeYoung murdered his parents, Kathryn and Gary DeYoung, and his fourteen-year-old sister Sarah DeYoung. DeYoung planned the murders with David Hagerty. DeYoung told Hagerty he wanted to kill his family to get money to start a business. 
DeYoung and Hagerty planned to kill DeYoung’s parents, his sister Sarah, and his sixteen-year-old brother Nathan by slashing their throats and then to set fire to the family’s home to cover up the evidence. On the night of the murders, DeYoung went upstairs, where his parents and sister were sleeping, and sent Hagerty to Nathan’s downstairs bedroom. 
DeYoung stabbed his mother repeatedly while she was sleeping in her bedroom upstairs; her screams awakened his father. As DeYoung struggled with his father, DeYoung’s sister Sarah came to the doorway of their parents’ bedroom. DeYoung slashed his father to death, and then stabbed and killed Sarah in the hallway. Hagerty heard a commotion upstairs, and changed his mind about killing Nathan. 
Nathan heard stomping and banging noises coming from upstairs, and he heard his sister cry out and call his name. Upon finding that the phone was dead, Nathan escaped through his bedroom window ... 
Instead of setting the house on fire, DeYoung and Hagerty searched for Nathan. Meanwhile, Nathan fled to his neighbor Keith Harmon’s home. Nathan returned minutes later to the DeYoung house with Harmon, who brought a gun. Harmon saw DeYoung in the driveway and called out to him, but DeYoung fled. Harmon had been the DeYoungs’ neighbor for about five years at the time of the murders. Harmon knew DeYoung and his siblings, and Nathan was a close friend of Harmon’s stepson. 
Police arrived and found Gary, Kathryn, and Sarah DeYoung’s bodies. Sarah had scores of stab, cutting, and slash wounds on her neck, back, chest, arms, and hands. The wounds to the back of Sarah’s neck overlapped so much it was impossible to count them. There were at least seventeen wounds on Sarah’s back, several of which had prominent hilt marks. The blood spatter patterns indicated Sarah was on the ground while most injuries were inflicted. 
Kathryn DeYoung, like Sarah, had many stab wounds and cuts on her neck, back, and torso. Among them were a seven-inch-long cutting wound on her thigh and a five-inch-deep stab wound on her back that penetrated into her chest and completely severed her aorta. One wound in her neck cut all the way through her trachea and also severed her left carotid artery and left external jugular vein. Kathryn had wounds going across her chest and wrapping around her right side, consistent with being attacked while lying down and rolling away from her attacker. 
Gary DeYoung suffered numerous wounds to his face and upper torso. He had a cut over his right eyebrow ridge, a deep stab wound in front of his right ear that fractured his jaw, stab wounds in his upper arm and neck, and numerous stab wounds to his chest. Gary also had two wounds on his right thigh, a six-inch-deep wound on his back, and a large chopping-type wound on his right biceps. 
Several hours after the murders, DeYoung returned home. Police noticed “scratches and abrasions present on his face, neck, hands and right arm.” At the police station, DeYoung gave a statement, later played at his trial, in which he told police he had spent the night at Hagerty’s house and denied involvement in the murders. Id. DeYoung said he went for a two-hour walk in the middle of the night and got the injuries when he fell down. 
The police interviewed Hagerty, who admitted participating in the crimes. Hagerty led police to evidence, including a footlocker and box he had helped DeYoung hide three days earlier, a knife consistent with the victims’ wounds, and a hand-drawn map showing the route to the DeYoungs’ home. The footlocker contained, among other things, personal notebooks written in DeYoung’s handwriting, articles or books with DeYoung’s name on them, and the hand-drawn map. The box contained materials for making pipe bombs. 
DeYoung and Hagerty were arrested and charged with the three murders. Hagerty pled guilty and received three concurrent life sentences. DeYoung pled not guilty.
DeYoung's defense seemed to be based on diminished capacity rather than actual innocence. I find no evidence that Andrew Grant DeYoung did not commit the crimes for which he is scheduled to die. I find no interest group arguing that DeYoung may be factually innocent. I find no report that even Andrew Grant DeYoung himself claims not to have killed his family.

I oppose the execution of people who might be factually guilty of the crime for which they are to die. If it is absolutely clear the person is factually guilty, I neither support nor oppose the death sentence. In those cases, I stand mute.

In the case of Andrew Grant DeYoung of Georgia, I stand mute.

ADDENDUM: The court has postponed DeYoung's execution by one day, until 21 July.

ERRATUM: As per the comment to this post, I have corrected DeYoung's name from Grant DeYoung in my last three paragraphs to Andrew Grant DeYoung.