Beazley, 25, is the senior class president with a "ready smile" who put a gun to the head of a 63-year-old man and pulled the trigger. I'm only guessing about the "ready smile" part. Vicious, lumpen predators who would slaughter an old man for a three-block joy ride are always described in the press as having "ready smiles."
Beazley lost his proud boast of having no criminal record when he killed a man at 17 years old. Along with his two hoodlum friends, Beazley confronted John Luttig and his wife, Bobbie, in their own driveway in 1994. Beazley wanted their Mercedes-Benz, so he shot them.
He then walked into a puddle of Mr. Luttig's blood and shot him a second time directly in the head. He rifled through the dead man's pants pocket for the car keys and took the Mercedes. Mrs. Luttig survived by playing dead.
This wasn't a crime out of "Columbo." Beazley crashed the Mercedes a few blocks away and left it behind, awash with his prints. Also not good from the "perfect crime" standpoint, Beazley had previously informed his classmates that he soon expected to be driving a Mercedes.
The evidence was overwhelming and, consequently, 12 jurors sentenced Beazley to death. No one, including Beazley, denies that he murdered Mr. Luttig, shot at Mrs. Luttig and stole the car.
The jury's correct conclusion that he committed a felony murder he admits to, Beazley says, was sadly predictable: "The cards were stacked against me already." Evidently the real reason for the jury's verdict was not the heinous murder, but rank prejudice. As Beazley explained: "[The victim] was a prominent businessman. I was at his home, in his area. People were already pissed off. I wasn't too shocked."
It was a touching show of remorse.
The fact that no one claims Beazley is innocent is the only truly shocking development. Preposterous claims of innocence are de rigueur in death penalty cases.
If Beazley had lyingly claimed to be innocent, no further information about the crime would ever have been revealed by the American press corps. Newspaper headlines would read "Napoleon Beazley: Killer or Victim?" Polls would be commissioned asking: "Should the innocent be executed?"
The most likely reason Beazley's lawyers opted against a manifestly false claim of innocence is that the victim's son is a prominent federal judge. He could probably publicize the true facts of the case if necessary.
In all other respects, Beazley's post-conviction claims are indistinguishable from those of all the "innocent" guys on death row. The modus operandi of anti-death penalty fanatics never changes.
Inevitably, the defense counsel steps forward to admit he did a lousy job in order to create an "ineffective assistance of counsel" claim. The lawyer's incompetence is always framed in a manner to avoid his having to forfeit his law license. Beazley's lawyer says it was a lack of money that prevented him from mounting an effective defense.
Also like clockwork, some soppy-headed lady lawyer involved in the case, generally the prosecutor, will issue a surprise plea for the killer's life. In Beazley's case, it was the presiding trial judge, Cynthia Kent.
Then there are the rote claims of racism. Here, the defense alleges that in a post-trial interview, one of the jurors used the N-word in front of Beazley's lawyer. This, frankly, is pretty pathetic. Usually the defense can pester at least one juror into attesting to the jury's invidious prejudice. This time we have it on the word of a criminal defense attorney. As a rule of thumb, criminal defense lawyers would gleefully sign affidavits swearing the Earth is flat if it would prevent just one vicious killer from being executed.
Finally, Amnesty International denounces the death sentence for some unique barbarity never before seen in a death penalty case, making it the single most monstrous punishment ever imposed in the history of mankind. This time, Amnesty complains that Beazley is being punished for an act he committed as a "child." Beazley, it seems, was a few months shy of his 18th birthday when he murdered Mr. Luttig in cold blood.
It's good to get all this out in the Beazley case. It can now be said that even when the defense counsel is ineffective, the trial judge opposes the capital sentence, the jurors are racist and Amnesty International is hysterical -- American juries still manage to come to the correct decision! Beazley admits he committed a barbaric murder. That's precisely what the jury found.