We the people of the State of Michigan believe that any person who murders or causes the death of a child (aged 16 and under) during the commision of another felony should be eligible for the death penalty.
Between the years 2002 and 2010, more than 415 children were murdered in Michigan. (2011 data has not been released to the public yet.)
Below are some of those cases:
6/8/2012 – Antonio Bell, Jr, 14, of Flint was killed in a drive-by shooting.
6/7/2012 – Tamaris Steward, Jr, 12, of Saginaw was killed while sleeping in a recliner in his grandfather’s home when someone fired several shots into the home.
11/20/2010 – Lily Furneaux, 2 years old, was murdered by her stepmother, Renee King, while in her care. King was convicted of felony murder and a sexual assault charge.
11/2010 – Jamar Pinkney, 15, was forced to strip naked then, at gunpoint, forced outside. In an empty lot next to his home, his father shot him, execution-style.
10/9/2010 – Siblings Ella Stafford and Jonathan Sanderlin, 15 month and 13 months, respectively, were both scalded with burning water then drowned by their father at his apartment.
8/7/2010 – A 7 week old infant who had just been released from the hospital after having open heart surgery was at home recovering with her father. The father called the baby's mother and told her something was wrong with the baby. Hospital staff reported she had skull fractures and injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome. The baby died from her injuries.
04/12/2010 - Dominick Calhoun, 4 years old, was beaten to death over several days by his mother's boyfriend while his mother did nothing to protect him and left the family apartment for her own doctor's appointment. His murder lead to the passage of Dominick's Law which many lawmakers tout as the toughest child abuse laws in the nation. It makes each citizen in the State of Michigan responsible to report any known instances of child abuse. If a citizen is aware of any instance of child abuse and fails to report it, they could face charges of child abuse as well.
2/24/2009 – Asia Wyatt, 2 months, was beaten to death by her mother and her mother's boyfriend. The baby’s murder was hidden for over 24 hours.
8/16/2006 - Isaac Lethbridge, 2, was beaten and burned by his foster mother until he succumbed to the fatal injuries.
2005 – Ricky Holland, 7, was killed by his adoptive mother when she beat him in the head with a tack hammer. Her husband then called 911 and reported Ricky missing.
Tragically, the cases outlined above are far from isolated incidents. The Michigan State Police (MSP), in accordance with the Uniform Crime Report, released the following numbers for children aged 16 and under who were murdered between the years 2002 and 2010 (again, 2011 data has yet to be published):
2002 - 65
2003 - 51
2004 - 57
2005 - 91
2006 - 80
*2007 - 19+
*2008 - 31+
*2009 - 24+
*2010 - 16+
*(In reporting years 2007 - 2010, MPS changed the reporting table, eliminating the category that allowed for counting 16 year olds and replaced it with a category that included 16-19 year olds. Since the newer category does not distinguish 16 year olds and those 17 years old or older, the numbers reported for those years represent victims aged 15 and under; the "+" indicates that there were one or more victims in the 16-19 age category, which may include 16 year olds)
We believe that the cases outlined above and the many others of a similar nature over the past ten years support the need for the death penalty in Michigan when a child is murdered during the commission of a felony. Some of the felonies that should be looked at, but not limited to, when considering this legislation are:
Failure to stop at the signal of a police or conservation officer
Operating a motor vehicle while visibly impaired
Operation of a commercial vehicle by a person with a certain alcohol content
Enticing away a female under 16
Leaving a child unattended in a vehicle
Accosting, enticing or soliciting a child for immoral purposes
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the first degree
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the second degree
Criminal Sexual Conduct in the third degree
Assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct
Burning dwelling house
Assault with intent to commit murder
Assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder
Assault with intent to maim
Assault with intent to commit felony not otherwise punished
Assault with intent to rob and steal; unarmed
Assault with intent to rob and steal; armed
Manslaughter - Willful killing of an unborn child
Some might question why we are asking for such severe punishment for these crimes. First, is the obvious reason; the severity of the crime consitutes a severe punishment. Second, in arguing life without parole vs capital punishment for the murder or actions that cause the death of a child, I ask that you consider this: Laws change over time. While the following case didn't occur in Michigan, it could.
Pamela Moss was 14 years old when she was raped and murdered in Penfield, New York. Her parents agreed to the sentence of life without the possibility of parole for their daughter's rapist and murderer, James Moore. However, due to changes in state laws, Moore eventually was eliigible for parole, and was eligible every two years.
The people of the State of Michigan shouldn't have to worry if a situation such as this will occur in our own back yards. Also consider that parole boards can and do change. While one parole board may be adamant in keeping a child murderer behind bars, another may consider that same murderer rehabilitated and release them back into our society. I ask that you consider all of the above when making your decison to sign this petition but most of all, I ask that you consider our children, our most precious gifts, when you consider whether or not to sign.
Melissa Mingus started this petition with a single signature, and now has 323 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.