Victims' Rights Caucus


Cruel and Unusual

May 22 2006

Mr. Speaker, raped for more than an hour, sometimes by two gang members at once, they cried out for help. Tortured by six gang members, they begged for their lives.

As those gangsters strangled them with a belt, they clutched at it, hoping for air. The murderers, holding each end of the belt, pulled so hard, the belt snapped in two. Just to make sure that 14-year-old Jennifer Ertman and 16-year-old Elizabeth Pena were dead, the six gang members stomped on their necks with their boots.

Five of the killers were sentenced to death by separate Texas juries. Today, 13 years later, Elizabeth's parents and Jennifer Ertman's parents wait for justice and sob, wait for executions that were stayed.

The Supreme Court believes participating in a brutal gang rape and murder just months before your 18th birthday makes you too young for the death penalty, so two sentences were commuted. Now the others have had their executions stayed by the same arrogant, elitist judges, who wonder if lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.

Mr. Speaker, maybe not today, maybe not the next day, but some day, judges will treat victims with the same concern and compassion that they treat barbarians.

And that's just the way it is.