The Death of a Killer

In April of 1984 my grandfather Juan Placencia was brutally murdered. Three boys attacked him at his home in the early hours of the morning. After stabbing him repeatedly they proceeded to rob him of $130 cash and a TV they later sold for 20 bucks. According to the testimony of his attackers, my grandfather spent the entire time pleading for his life.

One of the boys, who served as the “lookout”, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was released after two. The second boy, who did the actual robbing, was sentenced to 50 years and will be eligible for parole in (I believe) 2 years.

The man who did the actual stabbing, David Leon Woods, was sentenced to death and has spent the last 22 years appealing the verdict. This most recent time around Woods’ attorney argued that it is illegal to execute someone who is mentally retarded in the state of Indiana and Woods has decided to claim he is mentally retarded. Woods also claimed that lethal injection is “cruel and unusual” punishment and should not be carried out.

You know what’s cruel and unusual? Stabbing a man 22 times in the face, back, and neck. And pardon my political incorrectness, but your excuses are mentally retarded. You’ve spent the last 23 years trying to cheat death. And you barely gave my grandfather 20 minutes.

Naturally, a couple of days ago the Supreme Court denied Woods’ appeal and their statements about him falsely claiming mental deficiency were almost humorous. This was his last chance to appeal. The Supreme Court has declared Woods be put to death before sunrise on May 4, 2007.

Ask everyone in my family how they feel about the judgment and you won’t get any two identical answers. Some have forgiven. Some have publicly vowed never to forgive. Some have admitted my grandfather wasn’t a perfect man. Others claim he was anything but.

Woods’ death won’t bring back Grandpa. I don’t believe his death will make me feel any better. But I will be glad when all of this is over.

It’s easy to cling to the past and cling to anger and hopefully the execution of David Woods will help some people loosen that grip. When you hold on so tightly to hate and revenge, you don’t have any free hands to grasp for hope and peace of mind.

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