Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Instant justice - or crime in answer to crime?

I note that a rape suspect was shot dead moments after committing his crime in a North Carolina town.

A 16-year-old girl was raped Sunday night, and her attacker – whose criminal history spans more than 20 years – was shot to death as he walked down the road away from her Richburg home, Chester County authorities said.

Sometime between 9 and 10 p.m., deputies were called to the home to investigate a sexual assault.

A woman there told them that Michael Jermaine Terry, 39, of Lancaster had raped the girl and walked away, Sheriff Richard Smith said.

The girl called her mother, who was at work at the time, and told her about the assault, Smith said.

When deputies went down the road looking for Terry, they found him a half-mile away – lying in the road, covered in blood and not breathing.

. . .

Chester County Coroner Terry Tinker said Terry, who lived at 205 N. French St., died of a gunshot wound. Tinker would not say how many times or where on his body Terry had been shot.

In the 1990s, according to the State Law Enforcement Division, Terry was convicted of several assault and battery and disorderly conduct, drug and weapons possession, and copper theft charges. For his most recent conviction, a nonviolent burglary in 2007, he was sentenced to three years probation.

Sheriff’s investigators spent much of Monday following leads and searching for suspects, Smith said, but they had not developed anything “concrete” by the end of the day.

“This isn’t the average murder,” he said.

Deputies didn’t find any shell casings or a weapon at the scene, Smith said. They also didn’t find any witnesses to the shooting.

“If there are, they haven’t come forward,” he said.

There's more at the link.

Theoretically, at least, this is morally wrong.  The alleged rapist was just that - an alleged offender.  He'd left the scene of the alleged crime, so he no longer posed a danger to his alleged victim.

On the other hand, if his guilt was and is certain (and DNA evidence should easily prove that), and given his criminal record, I'm glad I didn't have to choose between holding him at gunpoint until arresting officers arrived, or letting them find him lying dead in the street.  It appears someone made exactly that choice last Sunday.  As someone who tries to live a moral and at least moderately upright life, it's not a comfortable thought . . . particularly because I doubt whether many parents would have any difficulty in understanding and/or condoning the shooter's choice!



Toejam said...

If it were my daughter who was brutally raped the police wouldn't have to look too far.

"Theoretically, at least, this is morally wrong. The alleged rapist was just that - an alleged offender. He'd left the scene of the alleged crime, so he no longer posed a danger to his alleged victim."

If he was not breathing he no longer posed a threat to ANYONE!

Shrimp said...

This is the kind of thing that happens when "justice" isn't swift, or sure, or just. The people involved (the victim, the victim's relatives) will take care of it.

Not passing judgement on it, just saying that's what happens (or will happen).

Anonymous said...

And what if it wasn't rape (leaving aside the legality of sexual relations with a 16 y.o.)?

The story certainly favors the girl's account, but there were no other witnesses.


Mark said...

Richburg is in South Carolina.

Just the same, one reaps what they sow. No witnesses? Who knows what happened at the shooting. I doubt this particular SC city, the county, or even the state has the CSI budget like we've all seen on the boob tube.

Another unsolved case.

Randy said...

It speaks well of our good nature when we are concerned that the alleged rapist may be falsely accused, while subconsciously assuming that his demise was revenge. I will agree that it seems the most likely chain of events, but we have no more evidence that he was killed because of the rape than we have that he committed the rape. Again, it certainly seems like that was the real story, and I’ll admit I won’t lose any sleep over his checking out, but I think you and most here are commendable for being concerned over the moral implications of vigilantism.

Chris said...

No problem with this at all....

Jason M. Rogers said...

Post hoc ergo propter hoc?