Two murders, two prosecutors, two proposed outcomes

Earlier this year, San Joaquin County was horribly shaken when 8-year old Sandra Cantu was kidnapped and murdered.  It was even more shaken when it turned out that the murdering rapist was a woman.  The San Joaquin County prosecutor’s office today announced that it would seek the death penalty against Melissa Huckaby, the woman charged with the murder:

San Joaquin County prosecutors will ask for the death penalty for the Sunday school teacher accused of raping and murdering an 8-year-old playmate of her daughter in Tracy, authorities said Thursday.

Melissa Huckaby, 28, was indicted in July on a murder charge and three special circumstances in the death of Sandra Cantu – including that she killed during the commission of a rape – that make her eligible for execution if convicted. Huckaby was also accused of sexually assaulting a child younger than 10.

The decision to seek lethal execution was made by District Attorney James Willett, who consulted with attorneys in his office as well as Sandra’s family, authorities said.

Last year, in San Francisco, a gang member allegedly shot to death a father and his two sons.  The killing was a cold-blooded hit, that was meant to target rival gang members and instead destroyed a family.  Edwin Ramos, the man charged with the killings, goes on trial soon.  The San Francisco County prosector’s office today announced that it would not seek the death penalty against Ramos:

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris will not seek the death penalty for an alleged gang member accused of murdering a father and two of his sons, a prosecutor said Thursday.

The announcement in San Francisco Superior Court means that Edwin Ramos will at most serve life in prison without parole if convicted of the June 22, 2008, slayings of Tony Bologna, 48, and his sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16.

The decision is in keeping with Harris’ campaign promise never to seek the death penalty. There had been speculation, however, that with Harris running for state attorney general next year, she might shift direction in an especially notorious crime.

Assistant District Attorney Harry Dorfman put an end to that speculation in court Thursday. “We will not seek the death penalty in this case,” he told Judge Charles Haines.

I was in San Francisco yesterday.  It felt like being in a third world country.  The citizens dress in rags (although I think it’s a fashion statement), the streets are filthy and pot-holed, the lights at 30% of the intersections were broken, and the traffic was as chaotic as it is in Algiers or Tijuana.  Will the citizens ever wise up and elect conservative politicians or is it in an irremediable death spiral?