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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 10/26/12

The Prince of God. Really?

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By William Fisher


He is the "Prince of God" and will be seated at the "right-hand" of God after his death. His "documented history of paranoid schizophrenia" was "credible and compelling. "It is inconceivable" he would have received all those years of psychotropic medications and clinical treatment "were he not a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic."


As a teen, he was having "visual hallucinations." One doctor said he "did not know right from wrong nor the nature and consequences of his acts." A psychological diagnosis in 1975 warned that he "has a long-standing, severe illness which will most likely require long-term inpatient hospitalization" and that he was "dangerous and cannot be released under any circumstances."


Another brush with the law put him in danger of doing hard time. But, taking his psychiatric illness into account, he was released after a year. He soon murdered six people, execution style, during a brutal home invasion.

In 1977, he and two accomplices fatally shot six people at a Carol City, Florida, home, then the worst mass slaying in Miami-Dade County history. Even more shocking was his murder of a teenage couple who had left a church event in Hialeah in 1978 and never met up with friends they planned to meet for ice cream.


In the 1977 case, he pretended to be an electric utility worker to gain access to the Carol City house, which police said was a local hangout for marijuana dealers whom the bandits wanted to rob of drugs and cash. Former Miami-Dade prosecutor David Waksman said most of the victims were friends who happened to drop by the house while he and the other men were there. The victims were blindfolded and bound, but the encounter turned violent after a mask worn by one of Ferguson's gang fell off and his face was spotted by a victim .


He was convicted and sentenced to death and his appeal from that ruling also found him "fit for executiion" -- able to understand what was happenening to him and why.  

When a federal appeals court blocked the scheduled execution, the U.S. Supreme Court quickly upheld the stay. For the past quarter of a century, the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution's Eighth Amendment ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" to forbid the execution of an individual convicted of murder, if that person was mentally incompetent at the time of the scheduled execution. That declaration came first in 1986, in the case of Ford v. Wainwright.


At that time, the court said society would not tolerate "executing a person who has no comprehension of why he has been singled out and stripped of his fundamental right to life."


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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)
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