Brendon’s corpse was so mutilated that he could only be identified by his tattoo; his body so “abused,” as the court said, that the murderer would have to serve life without parole. I wondered at that sentencing.
I’ve never been able to wrap my head around the fact that Pennsylvania would not impose a death penalty on this vicious murderer. He brutally eviscerated poor Brendon; he tore every part of his body apart into bits and pieces.
The killer even admitted that when the young, dying Brendon asked him, “Why are you doing this me?” the pill-addled, college roommate got even more enraged, so much so that he bludgeoned poor Brendon’s heart.
Then he began to take him apart: fingers first, then limbs. Then he gave up.
The mutilation was so bad that no one, not even his own parents were allowed to identify his body. Brendon was identified by nothing more than a fish tattoo on his arm.
After photographs had been taken of his mangled remains, the coroner authorized Brendon’s cremation with not even a peep about this decision to anyone in the family. No one got to see how truly bad the mutilation was until the trial, yet the judge could not logically comprehend how the horror of this extraordinarily hate-filled murder was tantamount to a capital offense, how this crime deserved, even demanded, the death penalty. This case and cases like this one is why so many Americans believe that justice is failing.
Sure! There are laws that determine sentencing but there are also people beneath those robes. People are the ones granting that some get full justice while others must settle for our options. It’s one thing for justice to be blind but to also — at the same time — not be blind to the socio-economic status of the victim and to furthermore base their sentencing on that victim’s uncontrollable station in life bodes an incomprehensible bias towards those in positions of power.
What happened was that the perpetrator, who will remain in Pennsylvania’s Albion state prison for life, did not get the death sentence because of the social/economic status of his victim, my stepson, Brendon, a straight-A student. According to the judge that was all he was, nothing more, almost as though Brendon’s life had lesser value than the judge’s. There, in Penn, the victim has to be a doctor, a judge or other similarly protected careerist in order for Pennsylvania to impose death on a convicted, sadistic, homicidal felon.
No, I’m not for the death sentence. Likewise, I’m not for the preferential sentencing of the convicted based on the status of the victim’s life. This kind of sentencing provides no regard for crimes of extreme heinousness. It sows discontent with the system from those affected. It pours unnecessary salt into wounds that were infected with the killer’s rage. It is as if I heard Judge Kathleen A Durkin say, “Killer, you picked someone less important than me.”
Brendon was born May 13, 1987; murdered, January 25, 2006.