Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Impending Execution of Nicholas Tate

Nicholas Tate sits on death row awaiting execution by the people of Georgia on 31 January 2012. Though he pleaded guilty to murdering a mother and her child, he appealed the resulting death sentence on technical grounds. The appellate courts upheld the sentence. Though Tate has appeals still available to him, he now declines to pursue them.

From the appellate decision in Tate v. State of Georgia, I offer the following pieced-together summary of the crime.
Chrissie Williams and her three-year-old daughter, Katelyn Williams, were found dead in their home. Chrissie Williams was found bound to a bed with handcuffs and duct tape, and she had a bullet wound to her head. Katelyn Williams was found naked on the floor of another room, and her throat had been slit. Nicholas Cody Tate pleaded guilty to both murders and to related crimes, and he waived his right to a jury trial as to sentencing for the murders. At the conclusion of a bench trial on sentencing, the trial court found the existence of multiple statutory aggravating circumstances and sentenced Tate to death for each of the murders. ... 
Tate argues that his guilty pleas to the two counts of kidnapping and the one count of child molestation were not supported by a showing of a sufficient factual basis ... 
The factual basis shown to the trial court for Tate's guilty pleas, including Tate's videotaped interrogation, correlated sufficiently with the definition of kidnapping ... 
The strongest portion of the factual basis for Tate's guilty plea to child molestation was his own statement in the plea hearing that he himself had undressed Katelyn Williams for the purpose of his sexual arousal. ... 
The trial court denied Tate's pretrial motion to suppress his videotaped interrogation. Despite the fact that the videotape is marked in the record as an exhibit of the State, a review of the sentencing trial record reveals that the videotape was actually introduced by Tate during his cross-examination of a witness for the State. Accordingly, we conclude that Tate has waived the right to complain on appeal about the introduction of the videotape as evidence at his sentencing trial. 
The evidence showed that Nicholas Tate directed Chad Tate, his 15-year-old brother, to silence Katelyn Williams, who was only three years old. Chad Tate emerged from the room where he had strangled the child with a telephone cord, likely with his hands showing obvious signs of what he had done. When the child regained consciousness and began screaming again, Nicholas Tate, who had initially sent Chad to silence the child, allowed Chad Tate to take his knife and to return to the room where the child was. The evidence also showed that Nicholas Tate had been intent upon eliminating potential witnesses and that Katelyn Williams had recognized him and had called him by name. Both Chad and Nicholas Tate's pants were shown to have been stained with Katelyn Williams's blood. The trial court, acting as the finder of fact, was authorized to find that Nicholas Tate directed his young brother to murder the child. As we have held, one "who directs a follower or lackey to commit murder" is guilty of the statutory aggravating circumstance addressing persons who cause or direct another to commit murder as an agent or employee.
Note that the police in this case did indeed record their interview with Tate, and they did preserve Tate's confession with that recording. Kudos to them. Given the preserved, unchallenged confession, there is no doubt that Nicholas Tate is factually guilty of the crimes for which he is scheduled to die.

In cases where factual guilt is clear, I neither oppose nor support the death penalty. Instead I stand mute.

With respect to the impending execution of Nicholas Tate, I stand mute.

1 comment:

Pie CatLady said...

I oppose the death penalty. I encourage you to take a stand. By standing mute you avoid arguments from death penalty opponents and proponents. Maybe that is smart, but it is not moral. You choose to stand by while the state proceeds to take a human life in YOUR name.

Our Saviour stood mute when accused and crucified. His innocence spoke for Him and He chose to go to His death for our salvation, knowing He would triumph over the grave. No such wonderful outcome occurs when you or I stand mute in the face an execution. Some suggest the victims receive closure, but many victims say they did not get the relief they had hoped for. If they cannot let go of anger and hatred, they will find no peace. We find true closure, in any tragic loss, through acceptance and forgiveness. I don't know how anyone can find it without the help and comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Surely you can see that executions are an archaic and barbaric form of vengeance in the name of justice. No form of execution is truly humane. Yes, the killers on death row were inhumane and showed no mercy, but does that mean we must do the same? We disguise killing as a medical procedure and impose it in secrecy to distance ourselves from the event. Yet we are dehumanized and degraded through our complicity in the killing, always administered in the name of the people.

The death penalty is unfairly imposed mostly on the poor and minorities. It is inequitable across jurisdictions; the same type of crime may well get a lesser penalty in another location. In fact only certain states and counties apply the death penalty. It does not serve as a deterrent. Commuting death sentences to life without parole satisfies the need for punishment. It shows humanity and mercy. Life without parole separates the offender from society without taking a life. It is actually cheaper to feed and house inmates than to kill them because of the cost of appeals and the execution itself.

More than any other reason, I oppose executions because I believe in the Lord Jesus. Jesus tells us to forgive - specifically forgive our enemies. He says if you do not forgive, you will not be forgiven. If you do not show mercy, our Father in Heaven will not show mercy to you. Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty opposes all executions. We have sympathy for victims, including the families of the condemned. We hope that all will find closure. We don't approve of killers or want them released. We just want the state-sponsored killings to stop. Visit www.ncadp.org and www.gfadp.org for more information. I hope you will join us. Whether you do or not, it does nobody justice when you decline to take a stand.

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