Wednesday, February 08, 2006

How do we shake it off?

The news can be strange. In the aftermath of the Roger Bentley murder trial, there are a few details spinning out of the mess.

In Johnson County, there’s an effort to acquire the trailer where the murder took place, burn it and turn it into a nature preserve.

The owner of the deserted trailer in southwest Johnson County where authorities found the body of 10-year-old Jetseta Gage said she wants it torn down to establish a nature preserve.

Ann Enck, who lived in the trailer for about three months before moving to Florida two years ago, said she gave Johnson County officials permission to remove or raze her trailer at 4703 Orval Yoder Turnpike S.W.

"I'm going to go up there in about three or four weeks ... because there's still a lot of family stuff we want to pull from there ... especially the family memories, the photographs and that kind of stuff," Enck said Tuesday from her home in Waldo, Fla. "I'm donating it (the property) to a trust that's going to turn it into a nature habitat, retreat type of thing."

The mobile home, which has been abandoned since Enck moved, is where investigators discovered Jetseta's body stuffed in a bathroom cabinet on March 25, 2005. It's also where authorities found Roger Bentley, who faces two life prison sentences after a jury last week found him guilty of Jetseta's kidnapping and death. (Link to Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Yeah, gives new meaning to the Kelo inspired discussion of eminent domain. Although, I suppose it’s better than the rapid condo construction on all those Florida mobile home sites with some connection to the kidnapping, rape and murder of a child.

And back at the legislature, Jetsetta Gage’s murder has emboldened a group of GOP Senators to sponsor a death penalty bill. They’re working extra hours to try to move recalcitrant Democrats to agree to take up the bill in the Senate Judiciary committee. It’s not working, but the death penalty supporters keep trying. Recently, the Gage family joined the lead Senate sponsor in a series of press events.

A relative of the 10-year-old Cedar Rapids girl who was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered last spring has joined a campaign to get the death penalty reinstated in Iowa. Jenny Slight, Jetsetta Gage's great aunt, says justice was not really served with last week's conviction of Roger Bentley, the man accused of killing Jetsetta, because Bentley won't be put to death. She says she's had a lot of people come and tell her what they'd like to do, and she says she tells them to write to the legislature. …

… Slight spoke this (Wednesday) morning at a news conference in Newton, an event arranged by State Senator Larry McKibben, a Republican from Marshalltown who is pushing to reinstate capitol punishment in Iowa for those who kidnap, rape and kill kids. McKibben says Democrats in the Iowa Senate are blocking a debate on his death penalty bill. McKibben is planning similar events around the state and he'll be joined -- as he was in Newton -- by Republican candidates for the state senate who support the death penalty. (Link to Radio Iowa)

The nature retreat and the death penalty are hyperbolic fallout from a horrible act committed by someone without a conscience. My thought on the park the penalty, better to target resources and policy on the front end, so kids don’t grow up to be the next Roger or James Bentley.

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