Right now the country is going through one of its periodic reassesments of capital punishment. Tookie Williams had thousands of supporters claiming that he was innocent. ABC has just launched a critically-panned show InJustice, in which every week a new criminal is shown to have been railroaded by corrupt and incompetent police and prosecutors.
And yet. Mostly the courts are right; and sometimes locking someone up for life isn't enough.
The case of Clarence Ray Allen provides a strong argument that the extreme sentence of justice is not just and "eye for and eye."
In the 1970's Allen ran a security guard business in Central California. He knew both sides of the security business because he ran a burglary business at the same time. His employees both guarded and robbed businesses. In 1974, Allen burglarized a Fresno area supermarket, owned by Ray and Fran Schletewitz, who Allen had known for years.So the fact that this guy was locked up and the key was thrown away wasn't enough. He arranged for the murder of eight other people.
As part of the burglary plot, he arranged for someone to steal a set of door and alarm keys from the market owner's son, Bryon Schletewitz, age 19, while Schletewitz was swimming in Allen's pool. Allen then arranged a date between Schletewitz and Mary Sue Kitts (his son Roger's girlfriend) for the evening, during which time the burglary took place. The burglary netted $500 in cash and $10,000 in money orders from the store's safe.
Following the commission of the burglary, Kitts told Schletewitz that Allen had committed the crime, which she knew as she had helped Allen cash money orders that had been stolen from the store. Bryon Schletewitz confronted Roger Allen, informing him that he had been told of the crime by Kitts, and Roger Allen admitted the crime. When Roger Allen told his father Clarence of Bryon's accusation, Clarance Allen stated that they (Schletewitz and Kitts) would have to be "dealt with." Allen then ordered the strangulation of Kitts by Charles Furrow, after an unsuccessful attempt to poison her with cyanide capsules. Furrow threw Kitts's body into the Friant-Kern Canal, and it has never been found. In 1978, Allen was tried and convicted for the burglary itself, the murder of Kitts, and the conspiracy to murder Kitts. For these crimes, Allen was sentenced to life in prison without possiblity of parole.
While in Folsom Prison, Allen conspired with fellow inmate Billy Ray Hamilton to murder witnesses who had testified against him, including Bryon Schletewitz. Allen intended to gain a new trial, where there would be no witnesses to testify to his acts. When Hamilton was paroled from Folsom Prison, he went to Fran’s Market, where Bryon Schletewitz worked. There, Hamilton murdered Schletewitz and fellow employees Josephine Rocha, 17, and Douglas White, 18, with a sawed-off shotgun and wounded two other people, Joe Rios and Jack Abbott. Hamilton shot Schletewitz at near point-blank range in the forehead and murdered Rocha and White after forcing them to lie on the ground within the store. A neighbor who heard the shotgun blasts came to investigate and was shot by Hamilton. The neighbor returned fire and wounded Hamilton, who escaped from the scene.
Five days after the events at Fran's Market, Hamilton was arrested while attempting to rob a liquor store. Hamilton carried a “hit list” with the names and addresses of the witnesses who testified against Allen at the Kitts trial, including the name of Schletewitz.
Sometimes even the government does the right thing.