BOB MUIR: Criticism of Beatty outcome unfounded
Ronald Reagan was president the last time I wrote a letter to an editor. I guess it is time to start a new streak.
Last week a letter to the editor was published regarding the Lewis Beatty murders. The author was critical of District Attorney Patrick Dougherty and the Honorable Thomas M. Bianco for their roles in the case. The author was not pleased with three consecutive life sentences imposed upon Beatty by Judge Bianco for the killing of three individuals, two of whom were children. No, that author wanted justice for the killing of the pig, goat and pony, too. He also wanted more incarceration added on for the arson charges and he presumably wanted Mr. Dougherty to seek the death penalty.
I'm sure all of this could have been accomplished, but at what cost to Indiana County citizens and the surviving family? The last capital murder trial in Indiana County resulted in a murder conviction, but that jury did not impose the death penalty. Mr. Dougherty should be applauded for securing guilty pleas on the three most serious charges -- first degree murder. The taxpayers otherwise would have been compelled to pay for expert witnesses at trial on subjects including DNA, forensic and psychiatric analysis, among others.
By most estimates, Indiana County taxpayers would have paid between $200,000 and $300,000 for this murder trial. The victims' family would have been required to relive the horrific facts and circumstances of the murder details. The first responders, including members of the Pennsylvania State Police, would have been forced to recount their gruesome discoveries.
If all of this isn't enough, consider the appeal costs following a trial. Death penalty appeals typically run in excess of $1 million, and guess who picks up that tab? Once the appeals are concluded, and assuming the conviction is upheld, Mr. Beatty would join the long list of other Pennsylvania death row inmates who continue to eat three square meals a day because Pennsylvania hasn't executed inmates against their will since John F. Kennedy was president.
The criticism of Judge Bianco is unfounded, too. A life sentence for murder means life. There is not a judge in this commonwealth that could have or would have done any more.
Did our civic leaders do right by us? The answer is obvious -- yes, and thank you!