The New York Post - EDITORIAL -July 3, 2010
Eight people were shot -- two fatally -- in four separate incidents in Brooklyn Wednesday night. Last month, 26 people were shot, three fatally, over the course of one weekend in Chicago -- grisly, but a marked improvement over the Windy City's previous weekend, when more than 50 were shot, with eight dying. An argument for tougher gun control? But New York City and Chicago already have some of the most stringent gun-control laws in America -- to no apparent good effect. So perhaps the real issue is a fundamental cultural disrepect for the value of human life -- and not just on the street. Especially not just on the street. Take Wednesday's absurd decision by a three-judge federal panel that rescued a notorious Staten Island cop-killer from an exceedingly rare -- but well-deserved -- death sentence. The 2-1 decision by the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals was based on but a few words of a lengthy prosecutor's summation during the penalty phase of Ronell Wilson's trial, after he was convicted of murdering undercover cops James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews in 2003. Ironically enough, Nemorin and Andrews were attempting to enforce tough gun laws when Wilson coldly and deliberately executed them. At issue was whether Wilson had genuinely expressed remorse for the killings after, as the trial judge put it, his guilt was "proved not merely beyond a reasonable doubt, but beyond all doubt." Wilson, a lifelong career criminal, shot Nemorin in the head, even as the detective pleaded for his life. When asked why he'd shot the cops, Wilson -- who reportedly was trying to win high esteem within his local Bloods gang -- replied: "I don't give a f--- about nobody." This was the first time in more than half a century that federal prosecutors had successfully convinced a New York City jury to vote for a death sentence. Indeed, the jury -- which the trial judge called "among the most attentive and serious I have ever seen" -- did so even after accepting most of the mitigating factors that Wilson's lawyers advanced; the penalty phase alone took nine days. Yet the appeals judges voted to spare Wilson's life based on a few words in a trial record stretching thousands of pages -- part of their decision actually rested on the prosecutor having said "has never been" instead of "was not." Detectives Nemorin and Andrews, it must be noted, left five young children between them. It's hard to imagine what they will come to think of a society that is so obsessed with process that it has lost sight of simple justice. Wilson callously murdered two cops, forfeiting his own right to life when he did so. But the court restored it. That message won't be missed on the streets, where human life is held far too cheap already. And that, not guns themselves, is the real problem.