The Judge, the Jury, and the Executioner.

Let me begin by saying that I’m against the death penalty. I don’t believe that the state has the right to take someone’s life. It’s also not a foolproof method. Time and time again, we have executed innocent people. If you don’t believe me, try picking up a copy of Deadline some time. It’s frightening how many people have sat on death row and are completely innocent.

Last Sunday morning at around 4:30 AM 23-year-old man driving at 100 mph hit a woman crossing the street so hard she was dismembered. As her friend stood there in hysterics the driver then spun around, hit another car, and then left the scene of the accident by foot. The car was left running and a bottle of liquor laid on the floor. Yesterday, when I first heard about the accident, they were still in search of the other people in the car. They come forward as witnesses.

Immediately, I wanted to hate this guy. I hate him because I have seen hundreds of idiotic men drive their cars as if they’re on a racetrack with little to no care of anyone else around. I hate him because he should never have gotten into the car drunk. I hate him for leaving. I hate him for being a coward. I hate him for being a 23-year-old pussy. I hate him for being a liar. I hate him for killing the woman and not having the decency to stop.

Many, many years ago, I had read about a man who had been drinking and then hopped on his motorcycle. (Forgive me; the details are foggy as it’s been a long time since I read about it. But I still know exactly how it ended.) He hit a little boy. The man got off the bike, took the dead boy in his arms and began to sob. A moment later, the gun was out and a self-inflicted bullet was being pumped into the man’s head. The headline read:

JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER.

That story has haunted me for years. To think that someone is capable of making such a definitive decision in such a small amount of time, knowing that he or she could not live with the guilt that lies ahead of him or her, is astounding. I was never quite sure how to feel about it. The boy he had hit was dead and the man had made a horrible mistake. But whatever his reasoning may have been, in that little bit of time, he had decided that life compared to death for him seemed worse.

I found I identified with the man. I remember thinking that – had I been in his shoes and had I had the strength to do so – I probably would have made the same choice. No one would ever really forgive you for something like this, right? Even you can’t forgive yourself for something like that, right?

Even during acts of cowardice, we are able to decide something definitive and real. And while I don’t believe that suicide is the answer, he took any future role from criminal justice system, its lawyers and those who would have wished to see him dead. And I found it disconcerting that had the motorcycle man not killed himself, I probably would have judged him immediately for what he had done. (Just like the hit and run driver from this weekend) Instead, because he took his own life based on his mistake, I ended up feeling a bit of compassion for him. I’m assuming I’m not alone.

Marlen Mustasaev left. He didn’t even have the balls to stop and face up to what he had done. Instead, he went to the police and told them his car had been stolen. It’s really, really hard to feel even remotely sorry for this individual. I don’t care how drunk he may have been or how much he regrets it. He did solve one problem for himself; since so much time lapsed they are unable to charge him for manslaughter, as his blood alcohol level was unable to be tested.

While I do not think that the state should have a role in putting him to death (not that they could anyway in this case) I do feel he should be charged with a whole lot more than leaving the scene of an accident. And I do hope that he feels an equal amount of guilt and pain as the man from years before had right before he pulled the trigger. And should the victim’s uncles, brothers, grandfathers, friends, or sisters get a hold of him, and then so be it. Let nature take its course.

The whole ordeal, coupled with the lingering story of the man on the motorcycle, leaves me wondering: Do we deserve second chances? Beyond that of a judcial system but in the eyes of the public, is it possible to forgive someone for something like this? Had Marlen Mustasaev stopped, would people think differently of him now?

P.S. Also, please forgive me for linking to both trash rags in this post. What has become of me?

24 Comments

  1. Second chance? The guy hasn’t yet had his first chance. The legal system is what it is, and it has many flaw and limitations. We, the people, can change parts of it we dislike, with a great about of effort. On a case-by-case basis, though, you have to let the system be what it is at the time of an investigation, at the time of trial, and at the time of each and every appeal.

    Let the man have his first chance. Sure, he sounds like a real prick, but I wouldn’t, right now, walk into a room as a juror and convict.

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  2. He had his first chance the moment he started driving while drunk. And he had another chance the moment he decided to drive 100 mph. I think it’s pretty safe to say he gave up several “chances” before killing the girl.

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  3. Oh, and he had another chance (at decency, at least) right after he hit her (and the other car) at stopping. Gave that up too. And, wouldn’t you know, the way our system works, that choice helps him.

    Completely crazy.

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  4. Wouldn’t he be charged with vehicular manslaughter, even though they can’t prove he wasn’t drunk? Especially since there are witnesses that were in the car that can place him behind the wheel?

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  5. That’s “prove he WAS drunk”. God, where is my brain today?

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  6. maddie, I said the same thing, but apparently it has to be a legitimate test. No speculation or witness can prove he was atually drunk. :/

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  7. So, you can’t be charged with vehicular manslaughter if you are sober and just driving extremely fast?

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  8. Oh, I don’t know. Good point. I wonder if it’s because she crossed outside of the crosswalk? Or against the light maybe? Good point. Why are they only charging him with that?

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  9. Ah, you bring up a good point too. Was she breaking the law (by jaywalking) as well? Although, regardless of what she did, it seems horrible that jaywalking be the reason he doesn’t get more of a punishment.

    I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the case plays out.

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  10. yeah, I’m sorry this is all based on speculation. I feel badly for it. I should just let the media do what they do and the legal system do what they do. Sometimes, I can’t help but get involved for some reason. :/

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  11. FWIW, drunk or not, if i hit someone in a car accident and dismembered their body, I’m pretty sure my second reaction would be to run. I think that would come very soon after my frist reaction, which would be to shit my pants in disbelief.

    I dislike it when people , especially the media, say that someone wasn’t strong enough to face what they had done. Few people are. Whats the real difference between someone fleeing an accident and someone staying there , only to hire a high priced lawyer and claim innocence by some weird technicality? Everyone tries to ‘get away’ with something. Its human nature – its our instict for survival.

    In any event, the recent verhicular killer ( what is the right term for his role as a criminal ?) has really proven himself as an awful human being. Drunk or not (maybe it was the passenger’s alcohol?) , accident or not – 100mph is just so egregiously disrepsectful of other lives in general. The facts that he did kill someone and was likely drunk when he did it – just put him over the top. I hate saying this, but I’m quite surprised he only killed 1 person that night.

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  12. Jonathan, I feel absolutely POSITIVE I would face what I had done. I really mean that. I think many other people feel that way as well.

    I don’t agree or buy that. Yet I can’t prove to you otherwise.

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  13. If you’re driving in a legal fashion and someone runs out in front of you and is hit, you’re not going to be charged for VM. If you in any way break the law, you will be.

    Proving the speed and the BAC of this guy is really impossible at this point. Witnesses are effectively unqualified to testify to either, as they’re easily discredited.

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  14. Also, Jon, even after witnesses have come forward and singled him out, he’s still claiming the vehicle wasn’t with him and instead stolen.

    He’s a chump. He’s a liar and a chump. Reacting right after something like that is one thing, keeping with a lie takes cowardice to an entirely different level.

    I’m emotional today. FYI.

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  15. Do we deserve second chances? Beyond that of a judcial system but in the eyes of the public, …….the public forgets

    is it possible to forgive someone for something like this?

    if they killed my sister? no, i would never forgive or forget….but i wouldn’t dwell on it either. life is too short to run around hating people for their screw ups, or our own. our lives would be full of hate and misery if we didn’t allow ourselves to move on. i would avoid contact with this person if and when i could because who needs that kind of reminder. there’s lots of people in the world and they all don’t have to be my friend.

    if the killer was part of my family, say it was my sister, i would forgive but not forget and once again i would not dwell on it. there are mistakes that just can’t be fixed and it is her job to deal with it and i would do what family does, be there in case.

    Had Marlen Mustasaev stopped, would people think differently of him now?

    had he stopped, i would have never heard his name and i’d be in the same place i am now…..wondering why more people don’t do what the guy on the motorcycle did.

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  16. WWMFD?

    What Would Missile Fart Do?

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  17. The thing is, I know myself and I know that I never would be able to really forgive myself had I done what he had done. Well, maybe I’d forgive myself, but I couldn’t forget and that’s the worst part, in my opinion. I guess I would have a hard time living after taking someone else’s life so carelessly.

    P.S. Missile Fart has her eye on Tobyjoe.

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  18. I think that, like most things, that question is subjective to the situation. Do everyday, normal people screw up and sometimes hurt/maim/kill innocent others in the process? Absolutely. Do sometimes these people do this because they are acting like douchebags? Absolutely. You can’t get through college without having to sit through a speaker who was once a fun-loving college kid out with his friends, drinking and driving 120 mph on their way to Ocean City when he flipped it killing three of his best friends. Now he spends his life trying to stop it from happening to some other fun-loving college kid. I think that the proof of the person lies in what comes next. Unfortunately for most of these people, it takes a tragedy like that to bring them down to earth, and in most cases they are filled with guilt and remorse. Do people deserve second chances? I think its all up to them. You would hope, in the situation you wrote about, that this kid would not have gone to the police and tried to weasel his way out of killing someone. You would have hoped that the sight of a woman being dismembered in front of his eyes as a result of his actions would have horrified him. If it didn’t, they should be asking some questions as to his emotional/mental state. As for the death penalty, until January 1st, I felt alot differently about it. I hate that I hate someone that much, but it happened and I can’t help the way that I feel. Maybe that’ll change, but I doubt it.

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  19. Didn’t the passengers come forward and say he was driving it at the time? You can’t really discredit that, unless he comes up with 4 other people who say they were in the car at the time.

    He’s obviously going to be convicted for quite some time – he’ll get the vehicular manslaugter , he’ll get fleeing the scene of a crime – it would be great if he could be prosecuted on the alcohol, but its not going to happen. Considering what he did and the context, when the prosecution wins on what it can prove, I’m sure the judge/jury will take into consideration for sentencing the likelyhood of alcohol and speed – which couldn’t be proven. I don’t think he’s going to effectively get away with anything.

    Michele – I don’t necessarily believe you would do that, but I am glad that you feel that way.

    Not to avoid and argument, but lets just hope that this is one argument that neither of us will ever get to win and say ‘I told you so’.

    Aimee – I’d say that seeing someone dismembered in front of his eyes completely horrified him, and thats why he ran. Its a fight or flight reaction.

    Going on and doing ‘what you’re supposed to do’ in the face of death is something that soldiers and doctors train to do. They generally have issues seeing people die right before their eyes (at least the first time).

    Honestly, I would have been deeply distrubted if he just stood there calm and ready to ‘own up’. I think someone would have either been exposed to far too much actual violence in their lives, or be completely deranged, to have that ‘ideal’ reaction.

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  20. Jon, you’re absolutely not alone with your thoughts, so I thank you for speaking up. I welcome the discussion that’s why I wrote this.

    Someone here, at work, said the same thing that he absolutely understands running from something that horrific.

    Another person mentioned the insanity defense….

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  21. There’s two types of horrified though. I’m not pretending to be inside his head, don’t get me wrong, but there are people who fear more for what will happen to them than they feel for the person they’ve just killed. Its the same as being remorseful because you’ve got to go to jail as opposed to being remorseful that you’ve killed someone. I don’t know for a fact which he is, and to speculate would be very judgemental, but his actions (trying to call the car in stolen) indicate that he may be more concerned for what will happen to him… i.e. jail.

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  22. aimee, yes. I absolutely agree. His actions lead me to believe he cared mainly about himself.

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  23. i think in that instant everyone would care about themself. its shock.

    i can imagine what someone could think:
    0-5 seconds – omg , i hit someone. i fing hit someone. are they ok? f blood. they’re dead. f* . f
    5-10 seconds – wtf am i going to to? f* f f. maybe they’re still alive. are they still alive? f f
    10-15 seconds – i need to get the f
    * out of here. fast. f*

    as time progresses, i’d imagine the ‘what will happen to ME?’ overshadows anything else. again, its a shock reaction. if he didn’t have it, he’d probably be a serial killer or something. i think the test of character comes once he’s settled down and removed himself from the situation – he has to deal with what happened too. if its been a few days / weeks / and he shows no remorse—then i think its safe to consider making a judgement on his values.

    but i don’t think calling a car in as stolen and trying to not be arrested contradict the concept of remorse. he might feel awful about everything. maybe he was crying over what happened? maybe he hadn’t eaten in a few days and was constantly vomited from the thought of killing that woman and devestating her family.

    just because someone hasn’t expressed remorse in the manne you want them to doesn’t mean that they don’t feel it at all.

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  24. by default, in any awful situation, I assume that something isn’t right about whomever it is that has done whatever it is that’s so awful… that if things were well with him/her, they wouldn’t have done what they did… There are many different reasons for what people do – why people make the choices they do. They’re responsible for every choice they do or don’t make, but sometimes people just “don’t know any better.” Doesn’t exactly excuse anyone, but it does help when considering the concept of forgiveness.

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