Young Killer's Past Does Not Excuse His Actions


This letter was published in top left position in the San Diego Union Tribune's letters section (in the North County edition, anyway) on June 20th, 1996, except they took out the last sentence(!) and the middle paragraph (starts "I suppose..."). They must have been short on space, right?

I would like to clarify one section. Where I say "I have no sympathy..." (2nd paragraph from the bottom) I mean he should be treated as harshly as the legal system of the United States in able to do. Thank goodness we have a reasonably good system in this country. Our world-wide visitors should not construe that statement to imply that the criminal should be subject to humanitarian outrages. Lock him up and toss the key, at least for a long, long time.

In the paper, the letter was titled "Young killer's past does not excuse his actions".

Union Tribune
San Diego, CA
June 18th, 1996
To The Editor:

I think you should be ashamed of yourself for your front-page sympathy-reporting (June 18th) of cold-blooded murderer Tony Hicks.

Does this so-called "child/killer" really deserve a cover story, a cover picture, and a full page inside your paper? No way! He was fourteen for gosh sakes! In four short years we would have let him voluntarily join the army and kill people legally. In two years, he could drive a car, which is a lethal weapon capable of killing pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers. Does some magic occur between 14 and 16 that youths should suddenly be able to learn right from wrong?

Your article drips with cries for sympathy because poor Tony was abused, deserted, ignored... All these quotes from the trial about how his mommy left him, and his daddy was in jail so poor Tony didn't get the loving that would have made him a decent human being. Well I hate to clue you, but there are a lot of decent young human beings who come from poor, abusive families, and your attitude is an insult to all of them.

I suppose his victim saw a poor, innocent, abused child pointing a gun at him and firing? I suppose in Tony's eyes his victim was actually the cause of all this?

Fourteen is quite old enough to know that the life he took was innocent. That the life he took belonged to someone who had never done Tony any harm. Sure, he's sorry now. That'll be great for the parole board when he comes up for review--and if he gets out on his first try, he'll be at the prime of life and have decades of freedom to look forward to, stolen from a pizza deliveryman.

I have no sympathy for Tony. His past does not excuse his actions in the least. This 90's idea of blaming others for your own faults has got to stop somewhere, at least at the end of a gun.

Maybe it's you, dear editor, who should grow up.

Russell Hoffman

"Complaining is like a fine whine. It is never useful if it is left corked up."--Russell D. Hoffman
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