Susan Smith dead satisfies the book deals, politicians

July 28, 1995|By ROGER SIMON

Will any of us be able to feel safe if Susan Smith is allowed to live?

Won't we always have the fear that if she someday gets out of prison, she might strap two more people into baby seats in her Mazda Protege and drown them in a lake?

I certainly could not sleep well at night knowing I shared the same planet as her.

Besides, killing her would be an act of feminism. Yes!

Currently, there are few things more unequal in American life than how our government kills people. Consider:

Murders committed by women in America: About 11 percent.

Women on Death Row: About 1.6 percent.

Since 1976, when the moratorium on the death penalty was lifted, 289 men have been executed in America.

Since 1976, only one woman has been executed.

Is this equal opportunity? I don't think so.

Nor is it fair how they hand out the death penalty in South Carolina, where Susan Smith lives.

While all 12 jurors had to agree to convict Smith (which they did Saturday) just one juror has to hold out against the death penalty and she gets life in prison.

Which is exactly what Smith was willing to accept in January.

She offered to plead guilty, avoid a trial, and accept life in prison.

The prosecutor said no. And I don't blame him.

Prosecutors in America are professional politicians. And how can a prosecutor be expected to build a political career without the dramatics of a trial?

And don't forget that Susan Smith's husband urged the prosecution to go for the death penalty.

He had a book to finish. So he needed a trial.

And so a trial was held even though the facts in the case were never in dispute:

On Oct. 25, Susan Smith drove to a boat ramp on a lake near Union, S.C., and sent the car down the ramp and beneath the waters with her two small sons strapped inside.

It took the jury only 2 1/2 hours to convict Smith of murder after only five days of testimony. (Clearly, Union, S.C., is not Los Angeles, Calif.)

As I write this, the jury is now trying to decide whether to execute Smith or let her live.

Toward that end, the judge allowed the prosecution to not only show the jurors a videotape of what it is like to drown in a car, but also actual pictures of the two children's bloated bodies after they had been underwater for nine days.

Why was such gruesomeness necessary?

Because American juries have turned into a bunch of weak-kneed little sissies, that's why.

Two separate juries heard the Menendez brothers admit to shotgunning their parents, yet two separate juries were unable to reach a verdict.

Lorena Bobbitt admitted to cutting off her husband's equipment while he was asleep, yet a jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity.

You think it is easy to get a conviction these days? It is not.

And Susan Smith's lawyer tried every cheap trick in the book:

He pointed out how her father killed himself when she was 7. How she attempted suicide at age 13. How her stepfather sexually assaulted her when she was 16 and how she attempted suicide again. How her marriage had broken up. And how her lover had jilted her because of her children.

In attempting an insanity defense, Smith's lawyer even dragged out a professor from the University of South Carolina to testify that Susan Smith suffers from "depression."

But who isn't depressed these days? Baltimore still doesn't have an NFL franchise. You think that doesn't make me depressed? But I don't go around drowning children.

No, don't tell me a mother has to be crazy to kill the two children whom everyone agrees she once loved dearly.

As the prosecution argued, she doesn't have to be crazy, she just has to be mean.

So let's be mean back.

"In a way, death would be a relief," Smith's lawyer told the jury.

And in America how do you spell relief?

T-H-E-C-H-A-I-R

Actually, according to a new South Carolina law, Susan Smith would get a choice between the electric chair and lethal injection.

I say: Give her both.

Only then can we call this a civilized country.

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