Ron Jackson: Death of child demands justice
Illinois no longer has the death penalty.
That is too bad.
The state of Texas does. That is the one thing I like about Texas.
Texas put a man to death this past week. Humanely, of course, and 20 years too late. However, it was the state’s third execution this year.
John William King was executed Wednesday by lethal injection for a murder he committed more than two decades ago.
King was convicted of killing James Byrd Jr., a 49-year-old Jasper, Texas, man in June 1998. It was the gruesomeness of the murder that makes the crime unforgettable.
King was the second person put to death for Byrd’s murder. One of his accomplices, Lawrence Brewer was put to death eight years ago.
A third crime mate is serving a life sentence.
All three were convicted for the chaining of Byrd, to the back of a truck and slowly dragging him three miles. Byrd was dead after the second mile.
Use your imagination to comprehend what a mangled body would look like after being dragged like a log for three miles. Justice is slow, but, it was finally served for James Byrd.
Meanwhile this week, in Illinois, the parents of a 5-year-old boy were arrested for the murder of their child.
They have both been charged with multiple counts of first degree murder.
The body of A.J. Fruend was found wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave a few miles from his home. The child had been reported missing for a week before his body was discovered.
It was good, quick, police work that led to the discovery and the arrests of both parents.
Subsequent reporting suggests the child’s death was just the culmination of a short, miserable life.
The parents also are alleged to have earlier this month beaten the child and forced him to sit in cold water for a long time.
If you have ever had the childhood experience of the sting of cold water on fresh open wounds caused by an extension cord, you might understand how death would seem less harsh.
During his brief stay on Earth, A.J. had been under the radar and protection of state child protective services. Somehow, he slipped through the cracks.
It is useless to point fingers at an already overburdened child protective services agency. This act was committed by the two people who were solely expected to care for this child.
No agency, no community, no village can be expected to protect every child from every harm.
We cannot build a wall around every child to protect them from harm or death — especially, harm from their parents. This case should not be about the failure of anyone or anything other than the mother and father of this child.
They abused, neglected and murdered their child. They deserve to be put to death. Their good fortune is geography. They live in Illinois. If they lived in Texas, we could look forward to one day witnessing their just due.
A.J. is gone.
Twenty years from now, Illinois residents will recall this case. If still alive, his parents will hopefully still be in custody. If so, they won’t be rotting. They will have their basic needs met. They will still be able to breathe, eat, communicate, exercise, get medical attention when needed and, of course, deny they ever hurt their child.
If natural death or jail justice doesn’t take them out, they still will be alive because that is the difference between Illinois and Texas.
In Texas, justice might come slowly like the announcement of the end of slavery, but it comes.
In Illinois we just put people away and hope they rot — which they don’t because we take care of them and protect them.
There are a few evil, death-deserving individuals who come to mind who are right now enjoying the fruits of our state’s leniency. I don’t have to name them.