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By Scott Tibbs, March 10, 2004

John Allen Muhammad needs to be executed

From CBS News:

John Allen Muhammad was sentenced to death Tuesday for his role in a series of sniper shootings that killed 10 people and terrorized the Washington area in 2002.

This is a good ruling. The kind of chilling efficiency that characterized Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo's spree of murders is frightening. These two monsters coldly murdered people in public places, demanding ransom for the killings. If the death penalty is to be applied, this is a clear instance where it is justified.

Muhammad's lawyers argue that he should have gotten the same penalty as Malvo, who received life in prison for his role in the murders. The fact that Malvo was 17 at the time of the killings while Muhammad was in his early 40's may have contributed to that. Even if Malvo were the one to pull the trigger, there can be little doubt that Muhammad was the mastermind of the killings. While Malvo also deserves death, it is reasonable to punish Muhammad more.

I found it ironic (to say the least) to read the following quote from Muhammad's attorneys:

We do a disservice to our children when we kill. Whether sanctioned by the state or not, killing is killing. And when the news goes out that John Muhammad was killed with the blessing of the court, the prosecutors, the legislature and the governor, children come to understand that killing is an acceptable thing.
A cold-blooded serial murderer arguing for the sanctity of life through his attorneys? I fail to be touched.

I disagree that killing Muhammad in any way cheapens life. What it does show is that some crimes are so heinous that they require the ultimate punishment. Society must show that it will harshly punish serial killers like Muhammad. If someone does what Muhammad did, he has willingly given up your right to live in a civilized society.

The death penalty does not cheapen life. It underscores how valuable life is. It shows that we value life so much if you take a life, your own is forfeit. It is a the strongest possible statement to discourage people from murdering. To serial killers like Muhammad or Ted Bundy, the message is directed in an especially forceful manner.