Liberal Justice Means More Murders

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When
the sniper's bullets started to fly inside the beltway, none of
us knew who — or where — was next. For the past three weeks, everyone
has been on edge, anxiously watching our fuel supply inch towards
empty, and planning our next visit to the gas station with the same
care that we might plan a wedding. At one point, police suggested
we “zig and zag” if we had to go out in public, but that's hard
to while you're pumping gas. So all of us have been more or less
nervous.

Now
that the accused killers have been apprehended, it's possible that
the next installment will be even more unnerving.

The
sniper killed victims in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of
Columbia. The “authorities” are now arguing over who will try the
accused killers first.

A
liberal prosecutor in Montgomery County, Maryland, wants to use
the case as the basis for a run for state attorney general. Of course,
most of us in the region would prefer a prosecutor who kept his
eye on the case, and not his political fortunes. Perhaps the “authorities”
will agree, and allow the case to be tried elsewhere. But don't
hold your breath.

As
far as justice is concerned, Montgomery County is a black hole.
I leave to others to flog the notorious disdain for whites of Police
Chief Charles Moose, as well as reports that he was so opposed to
racial profiling that police discovered and released the sleeping
killers ten times in the two weeks before their final capture, because
Moose insisted they were looking for a white man. Flog away.

There
are more fundamental arguments against trying the case in that venue,
and they are best understood in the light of other brutal murders
tried in that jurisdiction.

For
the record, allow me to recall, with pain and sadness, one such
travesty, eight years ago. The facts are pretty straightforward.
You can draw your own conclusions.

One
night back in 1994, Dan Huston, a young lawyer from a big Catholic
family in Iowa, parked his SUV near the Metro in Wheaton (Montgomery
County), Maryland, just outside of the District of Columbia line;
he and his date then headed to a nearby bistro.

When
they returned to the parking lot, they were attacked by four thugs
intent on stealing the vehicle. The thugs shot Huston, killing him.
The young lady, although shot multiple times at close range, miraculously
survived.

Just
another brutal killing in the murder capital of the world, right?

Wrong.
And brace yourself, gentle reader, because the truth is not pretty.
In fact, it stinks.

For
you see, the thugs in the parking lot had been under surveillance
for twenty minutes by the Montgomery County police (now headed by
Chief Moose) from the top floor of a parking garage across the street.
A policewoman and her companion had watched the thugs going from
car to car, trying the door handles; she watched as Mr. Huston and
his date, returning from the restaurant, approached his car. She
watched as the thugs hid until they could attack the pair. Then
she watched as the thugs shot them again and again.

As
the Washington Post put it at the time, she “witnessed the crime
through binoculars from atop a nearby parking garage.”

Dan
Huston was killed. Then, and only then, did Montgomery County's
finest spring into action. The brave policewoman observer actually
called for backup! Then she tore down three levels of the parking
garage in her police cruiser, undoubtedly at great risk to life
and limb. Later, several police canine units apprehended the suspects.

When
I saw news accounts of this travesty a day later, I called the Wheaton
substation of the Montgomery County Police Department — the one
from which the valiant woman in blue served. I asked the officer
who answered the phone, “how could this be allowed to happen?” I
was amazed. Her answer was candid — and chilling.

“You
don't understand,” she exploded. “If we stop those people, question
them, harass them in any way, we could be sued. We could lose our
car, we could lose our house — the county won't back us, the union
won't back us. We'd be on our own.”

“Why
in the world,” I asked, “would she be sued?

“Well,
the murderers were black.”

Ah.
Since the murderers were black, the policewoman could lose her house
if she intervened before the murder was actually committed. Dan
Huston lost his life; the valiant but calculating woman in blue
kept her house. A small price to pay: houses are very expensive
in Montgomery County.

The
thugs were eventually tried. Montgomery County prosecutors made
major errors in prosecuting the case, but the defense was even worse,
so the killers went to jail. (The
whole stomach-turning story is available in the appellate court's
decision confirming one of the convictions.
None of the killers
got the death penalty.)

It
appears that the Keystone Cops in Montgomery County haven't learned
anything since 1994. I can’t help but wonder, was that same fear
on the mind of the police who stopped the snipers ten different
times during their killing spree, and let them go ten times? One
look in the trunk, and it would be all over. But hey, they might
have lost their house, their car. And the county wouldn’t back them.

As
if this sordid legacy weren’t bad enough, now we have a trial to
deal with. A sniper trial in Maryland would be a joke. Montgomery
County houses one of the greatest concentrations of liberal federal
bureaucrats (read: jury pools) in the world. Juries in the sniper
trials, if they are held there, will be made up primarily of government
workers, because no one else can afford to take so much time off
(federal workers are paid full salary, at taxpayer expense, when
on jury duty. That's why so many juries wait until morning to finalize
their verdicts: bureaucrat jurors get the rest of the day off).

If
Maryland gets to try the snipers first, mark my words, it will be
a classic farce. You will long for Marcia Clark. You will long for
Johnnie Cochrane. You may even long for Cato Kaelin.

But,
most of all, you will long for justice. And, in Maryland, it's unlikely
you'll get it. But be patient, and be brave: eventually they'll
be tried in Virginia.

October
28, 2002

Christopher
Manion [send him mail] writes
from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. He avoids Marlyland whenever
possible.

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