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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.
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Bo Melson is a retired sports and police beat editor of the Times-Gazette.