As the father of a child with an IQ or somewhere around 60, this story hit home in more ways than one.
Then, there is the story of Lena Baker.
You can, if you choose, look through capital punishment cases and find person after person who was put to death for a crime they did not commit.
But Joe Arridy has special meaning to me.
My son has Down Syndrome. He’s pretty much everything you expect from a person with trisomy 21, including the ability to be led around easily. I can easily see Jesse confessing to a murder he never committed, because he would think it was what the people he spoke to wanted to hear.
His willingness to help and please is a major problem at times, especially when it comes to determining motive for his actions and finding out who, exactly, did something.
I am not saying my boy is a saint and is perfect. Indeed not. He knows right from wrong, knows what a lie is and does his best to be sneaky to try and get away with minor things he knows he shouldn’t do - like drinking more sodas in one day than he’s allowed.
I have, in the past, taken a paddle to his butt to show him the error of his ways.
You may not like that idea. You are also not raising him. Ergo, it’s none of your business.
But he will admit to things he never did. I'm not entirely certain he understand what he'd doing when this happens.
He will deny, of course, doing some things he did and he can distort a report of what went on. Part of that is just being a young'un and part of that is his mental disability.
As I was thinking on this piece on the way to a CWOT, I wondered - Could Jesse kill someone? With forethought, I mean. Not accidentally. I started to say no and I rethought.
Yes. He could. If someone hurts his sister badly enough, he could and would kill the person.
Would he kill someone just out of spite or malice? No. That's not part of Jesse's makeup.
Could someone talk him into killing someone? I fear the answer is yes. Jesse can be led very easily, as I said.
Could someone talk Jesse into confessing to a murder or other crime he didn't commit? Absolutely.
Would that make him guilty?
Aside from assuaging the consciences of the remaining family, a posthumous pardon is as close to being useless as anything I can think of.
I am still in favor of capital punishment, but I am ONLY in favor of it when there is overwhelming evidence.