Here are snippits from an upstate South Carolina Letter to the Editor reacting to an article written by a local reporter about the parents of the two young men who were fatally gunned down after being suspected of preparing to break into an apartment. I’ve written 4 previous stories on the incident, this will be my 5th.
The writer made himself clear up front. “I was completely unable to muster any pity for the poor families of these criminals who were killed in the act of a violent crime.” He lumped an individual who did brandish a weapon in a restaurant robbery and was shot to death by a customer in with the two young men I’ve been writing about who were no threat to anyone. They were standing by an apartment window, probably preparing to break in when a resident of the apartment drove up, alighted from his car and shot them both in the head. But in hang ‘em high South Carolina, no distinctions are drawn.
“In order to allow my children to continue sleeping, or eating their food, this individual must die or be forcibly put down. The article seemed to me to portray the act of defending yourself with deadly force as an act that creates more victims. I beg to differ. The original crime creates all the victims.” There are a few more lines essentially of the same tenor.
The earth is intellectually flat in South Carolina. There are no objective curvatures of introspection, inquiry, sypmpathy or alternatives. It’s purely black and white when it comes to gunning down ‘bad’ guys. There are no goober epiphanies – ever!
But the dear parents of the two victims that I’ve been describing in my writings soldier on. And they’re making progress in trudging this symbolic 80-degree grade of hate, ignorance, political propaganda and a sheriff whose life’s goal is to excuse every shooting of a ‘criminal’ no matter how trivial or non-threatening the crime. He’s been pretty successful thanks to an adoring, gun-nut pubic and generous state statutes. In less than 4 months, there have been 9 homicides in the county, 4 ruled justified. A lawyer’s wife unnecessarily shot another guy in the face for squatting in their empty house. He somehow survived or more than half of the shooting deaths would have been ‘justified’. There were but 11 homicides in all of 2011.
Since my last submission, the mother of one of the dead subjects has been on a wonderful radio show, Countdown with Dwayne and Sly on 103.3 ‘Spin’ FM, WOLT. I also appeared with her on the Mother’s Day show hosted by Dwayne and Sly, who are two highly gifted and insightful broadcasters. Dwayne was the lone host for this day and his questions were sensitive and relevant. All in all a wonderful success as Dwayne has pledged both host’s ongoing support and help.
There were also 2 lengthy local newspaper articles. One was headlined, Waffle House shooter (meaning the citizen who killed the would-be armed robber) speaks out. That was a Mother’s Day feature. Monday, a second piece appeared entitled “Officials differ on self-defense law.” The mom and dad featured in my series were prominently displayed in a large front-page picture with smaller pics of their son and cousin. The articles were by and large sympathetic to the parents painting their son as a positive and thoughtful young man.
That brings me to the astonishing denouement for this series of submissions. I have in my possession a copy of the autopsy reports for both young men. Monday, May 15, the families of the two victims met with the County Coroner. The families invited me along so I and went to the coroner’s office as well. I was quickly (and politely) told that I would not be allowed to sit in on the conversation. The excuse was that there might be grizzly pictures. As an orderly years ago, I’d seen many bodies in battered states from accidents, fires, car crashes – you name it. Besides, I could have easily excused myself and left the office during those periods that the families were viewing the photos. As it turned out they declined to look at them anyway. No, the coroner didn’t want an outsider asking embarrassing questions.
I was immediately sent a copy of the reports. They make law enforcement look for all the world like they’re trying to hide something. The sheriff has been trying to sell the snake oil of some kind of imminent fear of death. The solicitor said the very fact the 2 young men separated and wore gloves and one had a crumpled up ski mask on top of his head and they separated seeking protection behind two outdoor A/C units proved that the other guy was in deadly peril. Authorities said one of the young men had a gun ‘near’ him. It was in his pocket, never to exit that pocket.
But this is what should blow this case wide open. Here are some revealing sentences in the dry language of the Forensic Pathologist who performed the autopsy. Under ‘Description of Gunshot Wound:’ A single gunshot wound appears in the right anterior forehead 1.0 inch from the top of the head and 1.0 inch to the right of the midline just superior to the hairline on this side. The path of this gunshot wound appears to be downward at approximately 35 degrees, to the left at approximately 30 degrees, and front to back. Author’s note: the shooter would have to be standing above the victim, execution-style, for such an angle to be possible.
Finally, Microscopic examination of the hemorrhagic tissue at the calvarial entrance would revealed relatively large amounts of non-polarizable foreign material consistent with powder and soot residues which are indicative of a LOOSE CONTACT gunshot would. Author’s note: simply defined that’s when the muzzle is held lightly against the skin. That’s how close the shooter was to one of the victims. A sheriff’s investigators looked me in the eye and said they had no idea how close that shooter was.
Under ‘Description of Gunshot Wound’ for the younger victim, the autopsy report reads as follows: A gunshot wound appears in the right frontal area of the scalp near the anterior hairline 2.0 inches from the top of the head and 1.5 inches to the right of midline. The path of this gunshot would appear to be downward at approximately 60 degrees, right to left at approximately 20 degrees, and back to front. Imminent fear of death? (see below).
In my opinion that’s another stone-cold execution. There is no other explanation. And if I read ‘back to front’ correctly, there is no way on earth that the shooter could have felt threatened. Interesting development as I do a bit of editing before you see this. As of 4:45, Tuesday, May 15th, the mother I’ve been supporting all this time called to tell me that there was a mistake on the coroner’s report. The coroner called her and said ‘back to front’ should have read ‘front to back’. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but that’s a damn serious mistake should this case be reopened.
Stand your ground and the Castle Doctrine have to be modified or eliminated all together. Nobody has a right to sentence petty criminals to death just so the gun nuts can get their rush from killing somebody.
As they say in today’s kill-shot society…“You talkin’ to me?”