Four young men were killed in Philadelphia by a confessed murderer named Cosmo DiNardo and his cousin Sean Kratz. Most Americans watched as law enforcement surrounded the area where the bodies were buried but how they found those bodies is even more intriguing.
DiNardo agreed to cooperate with police if prosecutors would take the death penalty off the table. So, they used the death penalty as a negotiating tool to get a confession and to locate the bodies of the four men. DiNardo even confessed to two other murders he committed when he was 15 years old.
DiNardo lured two of the four men to a 90-acre farm which his parents owned where they met his cousin, Sean Kratz. Two of the men got out of the truck to discuss a marijuana sale and when they turned their backs, DiNardo pulled out a .357 Smith & Wesson handgun and shot them. He added their bodies to an oil tank that had been converted into a cooker where he had dumped another dead body just hours before. He then set the bodies on fire although they did not burn.
Without the death penalty being an option, police and the families of these men may still be wondering what happened to them. The community would still be on alert and murderers would still be on the loose.
In the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orange and Osceola counties in Florida, State Attorney Aramis Ayala made a blanket policy that her office will not seek the death penalty in any case during her administration.
In an interview with WFTV Channel 9, Retired Chief Judge Belvin Perry said, the Governor is going to get tired of snatching cases from Ayala “on almost a weekly basis.” Perry is right. While every case involving murder does not warrant the death penalty the death penalty can be used as leverage as well to solve crimes and a seasoned prosecutor would know that.
Unfortunately, the reality we face is a scary one and history shows murders that warrant the death penalty happen all across America, all too often. Reasonable people can agree the death penalty is highly controversial but no one person can make the decision to enforce it or not to enforce it. That is done by our legislators and Ayala took their job away from them by making the announcement in March that she will not seek it on any case, present and future. That is not prosecutorial discretion. That is a policy that supersedes the blueprint, which is the law.
What is also bothersome is the dragging of other professionals for her decision not to pursue the death penalty. Attorney Roy Austin defended her before the Florida Supreme Court and ruined his reputation in the eyes of some, for doing so. Unfortunately, a host of other professionals’ careers are also on life support as a result of her decision.