Columnist: Some criminals truly deserve the death penalty

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 1, 2015

Glenn Dowell

Contributing columnist

I waver when it comes to the issue of the death penalty. My religious beliefs sometime get in the way, causing me to believe that the government should not be in the retribution business – taking a life for a life.

Over the years, however, I have vacillated on the issue of capital punishment and truly believe that some criminals do, in fact, deserve the death penalty for their crimes. Ted Bundy, the handsome drifter and sociopath, who some believe would probably have been a great lawyer, deserved the death penalty. It is believed by some in law enforcement that he killed more than 30 people during his reign of terror, especially in Florida.

Is the name Timothy Carl Dawson familiar to you?

He deserved the death penalty. He appeared to enjoy the act of killing. A man with a lengthy criminal record, many of his murders took place in 1998.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said that Dawson’s motive was always robbery, but he killed his victims so they could not identify him. In all, it is suspected that he killed five people. In one case, he is alleged to have killed a DeKalb County real estate agent.

Dawson’s case is what good television and drama are all about. It is not inconceivable that Mr. Dawson probably killed others. Should he be classified as a serial murderer? From my perspective, killing more than one person should automatically classify the murderer as a serial killer.

I mention Mr. Dawson’s case because it causes me to re-evaluate my opinion on the use of capital punishment for murderous offenders. Mr. Dawson reveled in killing, or at a minimum felt that it went along with ensuring that witnesses would not be around after he robbed them.

Without a doubt, he is a dangerous man. While free, Mr. Dawson did not have empathy or sympathy for his victims. Get in Dawson’s way, and you could suffer the consequences – by losing your life. To him, killing was the completion of a crime.

A friend encounters Dawson and is sued

If my friend had been successful in a prior encounter with Dawson, some of his victims might still be alive today. My friend, who was an Atlanta detective, brought him in to a precinct in 1995 for questioning relating to another heinous crime he is alleged to have committed.

During the questioning, Dawson went mad when he discovered that he was going to be arrested. He positioned himself as he had some type of weapon, resulting in my friend trying to get him to calm down.

When he refused, he was shot several times. You know what? This guy refused to die. He later sued my detective friend and lost.

In November of 2002, Mr. Carl Timothy Dawson was sentenced to life in prison without parole. I was shocked. Again, he deserved to die for his crimes. This person created havoc while a free man.

I have to admit, however, that there are some crimes for which the death penalty may not be a deterrent but is certainly the ultimate in assuaging the pain and grief of those who end up become the surviving victims.

On another note, I would be remiss if I did not include the names of John Houser, had he lived, and Dylann Roof as being deserving of the death penalty. Houser was the shooter in the Lafayette, Louisiana, theater killings, where he committed suicide, and Roof allegedly confessed to killing nine people on June 17, 2015, in a South Carolina church, believing his actions would incite a race war.

What about you? Do you believe in the death penalty as a deterrent to crime?

Glenn Dowell is an author and LaGrange native who currently lives in Jonesboro. He may be reached at