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Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014

Cruel and inhumane?

Posted Sunday, November 11, 2007, at 9:57 PM

While watching the CBS news show 60 Minutes earlier tonight and seeing Gregory Thompson, the man who murdered my former co-worker, Brenda Blanton Lane, the first thing I noticed was we've been feeding him really well.

Thompson is much heavier, lost much of his hair and has been in prison and on death row a long time now.

Would his execution constitute cruel and inhumane punishment?

The jury at his murder trial in Coffee County found him guilty and he received the death penalty.

Gregory Thompson appointed himself judge and jury that cold winter night when he stabbed Brenda with that rusty butcher knife. She was only guilty of owning a car he wanted to take at knifepoint so he and his juvenile girlfriend, JoAnn MaNamara, could leave Shelbyville and go back to his residence in Georgia.

Thompson decided on and administered the death penalty. I went to that church yard in Coffee County with her uncle, Chief Jesse Blanton of the Shelbyville Police Department, the night they discovered Brenda's body.

She was executed, not by electrocution or lethal injection, but by a rusty butcher knife administered by Gregory Thompson in a cruel and inhumane manner.

There were no state-appointed psychiatrists to represent Brenda or a Supreme Court to somehow seemingly ignore the fact she was brutally murdered and search for reasons why Thompson's rights may be in danger of being violated.

I covered the entire murder trial. During the trial I felt so sorry for Brenda's family to have to listen to the details of her final minutes of life, felt sorry for Thompson's parents, a nice older couple, and was sorry I had lost a friend and former co-worker.

Thompson, as was his right, didn't take the stand, during the trial...but after he had been found guilty and the trial entered the penalty phase...he asked the judge if he could speak to the jury. I wanted to stand up and applaud when the judge refused his request.

At no time did I see any remorse on his part during the trial. He looked completely normal to me. Of course, I wasn't hired to try to find something wrong with Gregory Thompson.

A few times I've seen the Nashville media run things on poor JoAnn McNamara being in prison. Gregory Thompson would never have been in Shelbyville that fateful night if he and McNamara hadn't gone to the home of her relatives at one of the Shelbyville Housing Authority units located just above Big Springs Shopping Center where Brenda was abducted.

Poor, poor little thing? Bull. She's alive, no longer incarcerated and older now than Brenda lived to be due to her and her boyfriend, Gregory Thompson.

Prior to my retirement I was called on to take photographs of well over 100 homicide scenes. All of the victims suffered cruel and inhumane punishment. Only one of the people who committed these murders was ever found to be insane, and rightly so in that case.

No judges, juries, or psychiatrists to explain why the victims' lives were taken. They were just executed, cruelly and inhumanely.

Juries found those charged guilty in an overwhelming majority of those homicides...and the long series of appeals started.

Somehow what we refer to as the justice system just doesn't seem to be the right name of it, especially on nights such as this when the process seems to be so one-sided.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

The whole basis for his "cruel and unusual" defense against the death penalty is that it may " burn a little" when going in. Good gosh, if that's the case then everyone who has ever gotten an IV infusion in the hospital has been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. Very weak argument.

Is he insane? Don't have a clue. But he has had a very long time to figure out the answers to the questions that an examiner needs to hear.

-- Posted by Tim Baker on Mon, Nov 12, 2007, at 12:18 AM

Mr. Melson, I agree with your viewpoint wholeheartedly. I will never understand a system of "justice" whereby the criminal's rights are so closely considered, while victim's rights are trampled upon time and time again by the liberal bleeding hearts who are only motivated by their need to capitalize upon minute technical loopholes in our written law. Justice delayed is indeed justice denied.

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Mon, Nov 12, 2007, at 1:53 AM

He should have been killed long ago. Anyone can act crazy. I can tell you I see all kinds of stuff like the insects and aliens he refers to. If you put me on medicine for that I most likely WILL see those things...I would still be aware (as he is, clearly) of what I had done to be in jail. Is he insane? I don't know, I also don't care. He is clearly not insane enough to not understand why he will be killed.

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Mon, Nov 12, 2007, at 8:02 AM

Very well done and well said,Bo. Having worked on a series about Brenda and Thompson while I was with the T-G, your Blog hit home with me. I missed the 60-Minutes show last night, which might be for the best. My thoughts - based on your blog - might not be very printable.

Keep up your good work.


-- Posted by anniebmischief on Mon, Nov 12, 2007, at 2:27 PM

Bo correct me if Im wrong please! They didnt tell everything on 60 min. that he really did at the time of the murder from what I recall! I was discussing this with some of my older family members lastnight and we all agreed that he also ran over her. Is that correct? If so why was that left out?

I dont think hes crazy, hes just a ruthless killer! I also dont think they will execute him. I think their argument will be that he did not get a fair trial and should have been declared insane way back then! BULL ****...

-- Posted by Disgusted on Tue, Nov 13, 2007, at 9:25 AM

You are correct Disgusted. It was reported Thompson had driven the car over her. I can't really answer your question completely because I'd like to go back and see the actual testimony by investigators and others such as the medical examiner.

-- Posted by bomelson on Wed, Nov 14, 2007, at 11:05 PM

I saw 60 minutes,and it really upset me.

Thompson is not crazy. He could not sit there in front of a camera and tell how he kill Brenda,and then say how he has to be on heavy drugs(that we have to pay for)to keep from acting mean.He like all other convicted killers,should be executed,and off our payroll.

Maybe then the state of Tenn.could help the poor,and old, law abiding citizens.

Thompson does't know what real suffering is.He has it made compared to senior citizens,trying to get the

medication they need.

-- Posted by Gus on Sat, Nov 17, 2007, at 9:04 PM

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Bo Melson is a retired sports and police beat editor of the Times-Gazette. He passed away November 15, 2014, at age 81.
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