It was a Sunday night in September and the rains of hurricane Florence had finally subsided so Dazia Lee decided it would be safe to strap her one year old boy Kaiden into the carseat of her 2010 Hyundai Elantra and travel from Charlotte about an hour away to visit her grandmother. The roads seemed fine to her and there were other cars about so she figured the worst of the storm was over. Before long she came across some orange barrels that were positioned on the road but didn’t seem to be blocking it off entirely as other cars were coming the other way. Lee is twenty and had Kaiden when she was still in high school but wanted to keep him so she raised him on her own with the help of her parents while working jobs at Dunkin Donuts and an Amazon warehouse where she was likely paid very well and treated kindly if we know anything about those sorts of jobs.
It was dark now and the car began to hydroplane and the next thing she knew water was rushing into the car so fast and what a shock it is to see water engulfing the inside of your car it’s not something you can prepare yourself for even though it happens on TV a lot and they almost always get out and you think oh yeah that’s how you do that I am proficient in this now. She grabbed her son from the backseat and made it out of the window of the car where she fell to the ground in the quickly rising waters. She had her son held to her chest tightly and of course she would never let him go but then she didn’t have hold of him anymore and he was gone off into the water. The water smelled unnatural she said.
"I did everything I could," she told a reporter later. "From the moment I was pregnant until the moment I lost him. I did everything I could to save and protect him."
It would be hard to imagine a crueler punishment for a lapse in judgment like that. You would think there would be no worse fate for a young mother than to lose her baby like that. God can be cruel you might think but god has nothing on the criminal justice system because Lee has now been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of her boy the sentence for which can be up to twenty years and no less than 13 months.
Monroe County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said in a statement that he felt bad about the circumstance but you know how it is the jails aren’t going to fill themselves.
“The tragic death of this child and the circumstances surrounding this case are heartbreaking. We continue to pray for all those suffering as a result of this child’s death. However, after a very thorough investigation and taking all facts into consideration and applying the law, we feel that these charges are appropriate.”
“If you look and watch the news report when they were interviewing her. She didn't even act like a grieving mother,” one person commented on the police’s press release on Facebook. “She made a choice to drive through a barricaded road. Her choice cost a life,” wrote another human being. “I'm sure she's suffering but she had a choice and now she can face the consequences. Do I feel sorry for her, NO! Just as I don't feel sorry for the officers who did the same things that cost 2 lives......”
There are a lot more like that and some sympathetic ones too but I’m not going to read them because I don’t need to look at any more of that type of thing today.
Judy Buenoano was executed by the state of Florida in 1998 for the murder of her husband and son and the attempted murder of a fiancé over the course of a few years in the early 80s. She had poisoned her husband with arsenic they said and drowned her paralyzed son they said and tried to fire bomb the other guy to get insurance money. She was the first woman executed in the state in 150 years. The one before that was a freed slave who had killed her former master.
“Throughout Sunday, she had been talkative and upbeat, a corrections spokesman said,” as the Orlando Sentinel wrote at the time.
But when she entered the death chamber shortly after 7 a.m., Buenoano held tightly to the hands of two male guards who helped her walk. She was pale and terrified. But she seemed determined to face her death with a kind of stoic dignity.
Asked whether she had a last statement, Buenoano said in a barely audible voice, “No, sir.” Moments later, as the current flowed, her fists clenched. She seemed almost dwarfed in the 75-year-old oak chair. Smoke rose from the electrode attached to her right leg.
Some people who opposed the death penalty were protesting there and they held signs that said she was “a woman not a spider” due to they had been calling her the Black Widow in the news and such. One witness to the execution was a guy named Wayne Manning who brought his 7 year old grandson to see the show.
“He needs to learn what is going on in this world,” he said. “Maybe he won't get into a situation like this, himself, if he is exposed to it now.”
One thing I also know about Buenoano’s execution is what her final meal was because that is a thing that people want to know about for some reason whenever someone is executed and in her case it was broccoli, asparagus and strawberries. It’s something I was reminded of because a restaurant in Japan just finished a death penalty themed menu pop-up which people seemed to be pretty excited about. One of the other dishes they were offering was John Wayne Gacy’s final meal of a dozen fried shrimp, a bucket of KFC chicken, fries, and a pound of strawberries. 100% of the people I just wrote about wanted strawberries right before they died and I don’t have a metaphor or anything to make out of that.
There are around 50 countries in the world that still use capital punishment including — you guessed it — this fucking one you’re probably reading this in. Every European country besides Belarus has abolished it but other countries like Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Nigeria, Iran, and Jamaica still kill their own citizens for shit they did and other shit they often didn’t do.
Hours after the shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue in which 11 people were killed the president went to a campaign rally and said we have to bring back the death penalty. We still have it but he probably meant we have to use it more frequently.
“And when you have crimes like this, whether it’s this one or another one on another group, we have to bring back the death penalty. They have to pay the ultimate price,” he said. “They have to pay the ultimate price. They can’t do this. They can’t do this to our country. We must draw a line in the sand and say very strongly: Never again.”
You probably remember that Trump had called for the death penalty in the Central Park Five case after a group of black and hispanic teens were convicted of a sexual assault in New York City in 1989. Trisha Meili, a 28 year old jogger, was left in a coma for two weeks after she was attacked one night. Trump took out advertisements in four newspapers demanding as much.
Years later when the group of young men were released from prison and awarded a $41 million settlement from the city for being wrongly imprisoned Trump didn’t back down calling it “a disgrace,” and “the heist of the century” and now today he’s saying poor migrants fleeing violence are hardened fighters coming to kill us so we gotta send the troops down there to scare them off with helicopters and tanks and such.
In November of 1999 I had just moved to New York City for the first time. I had graduated from college that May and had been commuting for a few months from the home of my girlfriend’s parents in Fairfield and I would drive my shitty Chevy Celebrity from their beautiful home every day to the Metro North and sit there for an hour and a half or so and I’m guessing read a book because people didn’t look at their phones all the time back then because there wasn’t much on them to see in the first place. A lot of times the car would break down on the way to the train station and I’d be pretty embarrassed about that because that’s a very nice area and at any rate I finally found an apartment on the Upper East Side where I lived with two other guys one of whom was paying $600 to sleep on the couch and I was paying $800 to have a lofted bed in basically a closet and we thought that was expensive back then. I was working at Conde Nast for their fledgling internet concern and we’d make quizzes and all manner of horse shit for a few of the magazines and most of the time I’d leave for a while and go to the gym nearby where I’d bring them all the magazines we had laying around for a discount on my membership or else take all of the books that would be sent to the office and return them to Barnes & Noble which is a scam you could still do back then so I could afford to eat like a panini with roasted red peppers on it which is a vegetable everyone was very excited about at the time.
When I’ve told this story in the past I say it was my first day actually living in the city but I’m not sure if I made that part up to sound more dramatic but either way it was early on and I was on Madison Ave. and 42nd or so and there was a loud thwack like someone had just socked a home run to the moon and then there was a woman on the ground and the blood from her head was spreading so fast it was like when you knock an entire bottle of merlot over but instead of tipping it up right you just leave it there to spill until it’s empty. Goddamnit it you say. And you can’t get the stain out but you Google how to do it anyway and give it a try.
A man had run up behind her and smashed her in the head with a brick people said and I don’t remember anymore if I saw the man do it or I filled in the details later because even eye witnesses are exceptionally unreliable but I do remember the blood everywhere and there were so many people rushing to help her right away and a police officer was right nearby trying to help her so the rest of us a few people back just stood there and watched a woman probably dying like hypnotized audience members at a magic show who aren’t convinced if what they just saw was real or not. If I had a smart phone at the time I probably would’ve made a video of it and then some dipshit on the news would have asked me for permission to broadcast it across all mediums until infinity but like I said earlier we didn’t do much with our phones back then.
The woman was named Nicole Barrett and she was 28 and from Texas and the man they said did it was a homeless fella named Paris Drake who was 36 and he had called her a rich white bitch when he caved her head in is what they said he had said. Surprisingly she lived and he got 25 years which means he’s still in prison now. They wrote stories about what happened to her the following year how she was determined to get on with her life and especially to be able to ride a horse again. Her father had died that year earlier from cancer and Nicole said at the time: ''All of a sudden one day, he told Mom, 'I think it's time to go.’” He’d written a manual for his wife for how to do all manner of things around the house that he had usually done after he was gone so they would be able to take of things which is a very dad thing to do worrying about the lawn getting mowed and so on even after you’re dead.
Drake’s lawyer said during the trial it was a case of mistaken identity and that authorities were desperate to find someone. The attorney general said they had other homeless and criminal informants who said Drake had talked about what he had done so that was that and they got him for it but like I said I was right there and I have no idea what the guy actually looked like. He looked like a brick arcing through the air to me.
Rudy Giuliani was mayor at the time and he was trying to reassure people that New York City was safe which is crazy to think about now that he’s one of the worst liars alive and shouldn’t be doing anything besides working as the racism sommelier at a haunted mansion. Crimes like this create an ''undue amount of fear'' he said and yes, while it’s true that “conditions of life in all parts of the world and America carry with it a certain degree of danger you are never going to eliminate all of it completely” he said and that is one true thing he has said in his life so you have to give him credit for having done that.
I suppose that woman’s head spilling out onto the sidewalk is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life in person. One time I helped pull a woman out from under a city bus in Harvard Square and her leg was… not good and she had a head wrap on and still had her earbuds in although I’m not sure what music she was listening to when the bus drove over her because she was crying a lot and it broke my heart in a way that little else ever has. One time when we were kids I saw a friend trying to climb a fence and fall and get his arm caught on the top of the fucking thing there and it ripped his entire bicep off and he was walking around oddly calm with a flapping bicep barely attached like an unseasoned chicken breast. All things considered that’s not such a bad list compared to what a lot of people have to look at or have happen to them. I am pretty sure there will be worse things to come though and probably pretty soon for me and for everyone. We’re not people, we are spiders, I think sometimes. Spiders spend most of their days waiting and waiting and waiting and then something big happens in their world and they run over and act like a spider.
We posted a new song this week. It’s about disappearing thanks for listening.