That's the title of Marc Bookman's latest post at the Atlantic. It's subtitled, "Years ago, a burglar was party to a crime that ended in six murders but refused to kill anyone himself. Why was he put to death before the lead shooter?" Here's the beginning:
The capricious nature of the death penalty was on full display on August 5, 2013, when the state of Florida executed John Errol Ferguson. More than three decades had come and gone since he’d received a death sentence for his role in what came to be known as the Carol City killings. It was the longest time lapse between death sentence and execution in United States history, due largely to the extraordinary degree of mental illness Ferguson had exhibited since well before his arrest for the murders.
But in the hundreds of news stories about the Ferguson case, there was barely a word about Beauford White, one of the other men who had been with Ferguson during the murders. Perhaps it was because White had been executed 26 years earlier, and his name had faded from memory. Or perhaps the public had forgotten, or never known, that the jury convicting Beauford White didn’t want him to be executed.
Jury verdicts are considered sacrosanct in American jurisprudence, particularly where the death penalty is concerned.