We asked members of The News Tribune’s News Network whether prosecutors should use the death penalty as a bargaining chip with a murder defendant. Here are some of their comments:
If there is a chance to save a life, I agree a deal should be struck to do so.
Make provisions for life in prison without the possibility of parole in exchange for getting to a little girl who may still be alive, or refuse to consider the deal and allow the child to die because you did nothing. Mr. Horne was absolutely correct in this decision.
Larry J. Couture
It depends on the case and the suspect involved. It certainly cannot be a standard for all cases, and any prosecutor who has a history of offering deals should be watched.
If no death penalty for Terapon because of Zina, then how about the others?
If we push our anger aside and let the offender live, we have the chance of him giving up information related to other missing children. It is worth it if it helps families obtain vital information on the status and location of missing loved ones.
Yes, the prosecutor should bargain so that the family can have closure.
It is wrong for them to bargain.
Prosecutors should have whatever tools they need to solve crime and get the maximum conviction. Where multiple crimes are involved with a single suspect, a resolution of the crime is often more important than the getting the maximum sentence.
This type of deal, being made when there’s still hope the child/victim is still alive, is a devil’s bargain but useful.
Absolutely not! The decision should have been conditioned on the condition of the little girl.
Pierce County Prosecutor Gerry Horne made the right call, as usual. Finding the young victim should be of paramount concern. Mr. Horne and police investigators had their priorities sorted out exactly as they should be.
If the girl is alive, fine. If that was a ploy to take the death penalty off the table, the deal should be canceled.
Blaine C. Garver
Is there really a significant difference between the death penalty and a life sentence without possibility of parole? With appeals, it could be a decade or longer before a death sentence is carried out. This should be left to the judgment of the authorities, in consultation with the family.
As a service member who has faithfully served his country so people have rights offered nowhere else on this earth, I am appalled at this decision. You cannot convince me that the stellar police forces today along with the FBI would not have found her body. This is not justice.
Sgt. Maj. Dan Vessels
In this case, it was believed that Zina could be found alive, and time was of the essence. The authorities did the right thing in using any means possible to find her immediately. The death penalty is more often that not, a waste of time and money as appeal after appeal goes on and on, torturing the family even further as there is no closure.
Absolutely. One, in some cases it could help find someone alive. Two, it cost too much money to put someone on death row.
Under these circumstances it was the right thing to do. Zina’s family has her back and she is properly buried in a place where they can leave flowers and remember her. How much worse would it be to not know where your child’s body was and have no place to visit?