10 February 2006

Capital Murder Strategery

As the year began there were a couple of nasty murders of entire families in Richmond: the Tuckers and the Harveys.

Two suspects have been indicted, with a twist. While both are believed to have been involved in both sets of murders each defendant is only being charged with the murder of one of the families. The reason given? Statements given by the defendants wouldn't be allowed in during a joint trial because of their inadmissibility in the other defendant's case.

As an attorney I understand that reasoning. As an observer of Richmond I wonder about the possible outcomes. What happens if the defendant charged with killing the Harveys is sentenced to death while the defendant charged with killing the Tuckers isn't (or vice-versa)? Upon their murder the Harveys became a cause celebre: an upper middle class, white family killed in the basement of its own house for no obvious reason (though robbery is now the claimed reason). The news was all over it and every time you turned on the TV you saw something about some event in the Fan or Cary Town (trendy Richmond neighborhoods). The Tuckers were a solid, working class, black family. Their murders got attention, but it felt like that kind of guilty attention the news gives to events because it knows it would be wrong to concentrate too much on another story. Eventually, with the linking of the two sets of murders coverage is always linked now and when one family is mentioned both are.

The difficulty here is going to be that it appears there is going to be more for the defense attorneys to work with in the Tucker case. It appears that Mrs. Tuckers' daughter may have been a partner in crime with these two in at least one earlier crime in Chesterfield County and the Tuckers lived in a rough neighborhood (Broad Rock Road is well known to anyone who does criminal defense). Did the defendants just decide to turn on them or was something else happening?

Don't get me wrong, I think that the probable outcome in both cases is the death penalty. I just worry about the effects if there are different results in the different cases.

1 comment:

Yasmeen said...

Ken,
One of my professors has just been appointed to defend one of these defendants. So I'm excited to hear from her first hand how this case goes down.