As usual, I was listening to NPR on the way home Tuesday night. Their Texas correspondent, Wade Goodwyn, was reporting about a Mexican National named Humberto Leal Garcia that had been sentenced to death in Texas for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 16 year old girl named Adria Sauceda in 1994.
The story is that Adria was massively wasted at a party and ended up getting gang raped in the back yard. Leal's testimony said that when he arrived at the party and heard about the rape, he became visibly upset (corroberated by witnesses), found the girl and offered her a ride home. At some point on the drive, Adria got out of the car and as he was trying to convince her to get back in, Leal says they struggled, he pushed her and she hit her head. No rape, no kidnapping.
The details of the case, as presented by Goodwyn, include the fact that Leal was never informed of his right to contact his embassy (which violates an international treaty); additionally, Goodwyn stated there was little to no evidence that he raped her or kidnapped her:
"There's little question Leal killed her, either intentionally or unintentionally. But there was no DNA evidence that he raped her, and the evidence that he kidnapped her appeared even thinner."
Without the kidnapping and rape charges, Leal’s case would not have been eligible for the death penalty. (Huh - "eligible", like it's a prize or something.....)
The Obama administration, the United Nations and Amnesty International, among others, petitioned the office of Texas Governor Rick Perry to postpone the execution and review the case, proposing that the lack of access to the Mexican consulate set a precedent risking the rights and possibly the lives of Americans abroad.
The Governor’s office declined to review the case, arguing that the states are not bound to comply with the Vienna convention, because there is no law defining enforcement. Yep, that’s right – laws are just words on paper unless you EXPLICITLY define who has to abide by it and the consequences of non-compliance. Good to know, right?
Although I don't argue with the importance of adhering to an international treaty, I was laser focused on the reporter's comment about the evidence (or lack thereof).
Of course I couldn't help mentally comparing this to Casey Anthony being (IMHO) stone.cold.guilty. and you could say I was pretty effing pissed when I heard that the execution of Humburto Leal Garcia was carried out Wednesday. How could Ms. Anthony do what she did, and be set free, while this guy – who, based on the NPR report was at least plausibly innocent - was sentenced to death?? I was outraged. Instantly I started writing blog posts in my head telling Rick Perry what I thought about his ego and his presidential ambitions.
Then I got home and decided to do some more research before posting something I might regret.
And you know what I found? NOTHING. Nothing, that is, supporting Mr. Goodwyn's statement about the details of the case - remember the no-DNA-evidence thing? Yeah, nothing about that. And you would think that if there was a chance that the guy didn't do the horrible stuff he is accused of, then it would be all over the place, right? Nada. All everyone wanted to talk about what the treaty violation. That's all well and good, and an important detail. Who hasn't gotten drunk and arrested in Tijuana and been glad to contact their consulate? Well, I haven't, but that's beside the point......Where were the righteously indignant, the heroes of the common man? From what I was reading, it appeared that everyone was ignoring the fact that Leal very likely just accidentally killed that poor girl.
Then I stumbled on to the two websites I found that actually talked details. I was suddenly very glad that I took the time to research my topic. And at the same time, I felt like blowing chunks. It was bad:
When Adria was found on the side of the road the next morning, it was obvious that she had been violated with a STICK - maybe the reason why there was no DNA evidence that Leal raped her? (Oh, and by the way - the gang rape from earlier in the evening? Yeah, NO ONE was ever prosecuted for that......)And there was a huge chunk of concrete found next to her head. And it had her blood under it. And there was a smaller rock at the scene that had her blood on it.....and one webpage said she was strangled. And and and and and........
So I went from what I was sure was the high ground of "don't execute an innocent man" to "why the HELL did NPR say what they did"? Then I started to wonder how many other people heard that story Tuesday night and felt the same way I did - but didn't take the time to research what they heard. Just took what the guy said and ran with it. Of course, that led to asking how much more innacurate information do I have rattling around in my head? I have always thought of NPR as unbiased and accurate. Does this mean they suck as much as FOX and their "newstainment"? How can I ever trust anyone again? Do I have enough time in the day to fact check everything I hear? No, I don't - you probably don't either.
I just wonder.......is that what they are counting on?