300 F.Supp.2d 275 (2004) | Cited 3 times | D. Massachusetts | February 4, 2004


In the first Federal Death Penalty Act prosecution in Boston,Massachusetts, defendant Gary Sampson pled guilty to two charges ofcarjacking resulting in death in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2119(3).After a trial to determine his sentence, which was conducted pursuant to18 U.S.C. § 3591 et seq., the jury decided that the deathpenalty was justified for each of Sampson's offenses. See18 U.S.C. § 3593(e).

At Sampson's sentencing on January 29, 2004, the court stated andexplained the following. Citations have been added.

* * *

Gary Sampson, pursuant to the jury's verdicts, I hereby sentence you todeath for the carjacking resulting in the death of Philip McCloskey andto death for the carjacking resulting in the death of Jonathan Rizzo.See 18 U.S.C. § 3594.

You must also pay a $200 special assessment. See18 U.S.C. § 3013(a)(2)(A).1

You have a right to appeal this sentence within ten days ofPage 2the entry of judgment. If you would like to appeal but cannotafford a lawyer, at least one will be appointed to represent you atpublic expense.

I hereby commit you to the custody of the Attorney General, pursuant to18 U.S.C. § 3596(a). Also pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3596(a), Ihereby order that you be executed in New Hampshire in the mannerprescribed by the laws of New Hampshire, by lethal injection or, if thatis impractical, by hanging. See N.H. Rev. Stat. § 630.5XIII, XIV. The reasons I have selected New Hampshire are explained in aseparate Memorandum and Order.

Death is, of course, the most severe punishment that can be imposed forany crime. Your crimes were despicable, inexplicable, and inexcusable.

They were despicable because you brutally murdered Philip McCloskey andJonathan Rizzo, who were innocent of everything except showing kindnessto a stranger. Then you murdered Robert Whitney in New Hampshire aswell.2

Your crimes were inexplicable. You grew up in a suburb, not a slum. Youhad two parents. You had more advantages than most of the people that Isentence.

Your crimes were certainly inexcusable. You may be dyslexic.Page 3You may or may not be bipolar. You used crack. However, ourhomeless shelters and prisons are largely populated by people withuntreated mental illnesses and learning disabilities who have abuseddrugs. Yet they are not cruel, multiple murderers.

I always try to understand the people that I am called upon to judge.Usually, knowledge is a foundation for understanding.3 Havinglistened to weeks of testimony and observed you for many months, I knowmore about you than any man that I have ever sentenced. Yet I do not feelthat I really understand you at all.

However, one thing has been clear, at least to me. You are a humanbeing. You are a man who has done monstrous things, but you are a mannevertheless, and a member of the human family. You personify the wisdomof the poet's insight that: Evil is unspectacular and always human, And shares our bed and eats at our own table.W.H. Auden, "Herman Melville," Collected Shorter Poems1927-1957 145 (Random House 1966).

You essentially denied and destroyed the humanity of your victims,Philip McCloskey, Jonathan Rizzo, and Robert Whitney. You treated them asthings on which you could unleash your sadistic impulses, rather than aspeople with rights to life and hope.

Nevertheless, every effort has been made in this case to recognize andrespect your humanity, to give you the fair chance that you denied yourvictims to live rather than to die.Page 4

The prosecutors treated you with the dignity due to every defendant.The public has provided you with three lawyers who devoted all of theirenergy, ability, and experience to trying to save your life. The publicalso paid for the employment of expert and other witnesses to testify onyour behalf.

I have made my best effort to give you a fair trial. That requiredmaking decisions that I understand were painful to the victims' families,but which were legally necessary and appropriate.

The jury heard the substantial evidence about you as a person that yourattorneys presented. After considering all of the evidence, the jurydecided that death was the most appropriate penalty in this case. Therewill, therefore, be another killing. However, there is a differencebetween a murder and an execution. That difference is the fair process bywhich a jury of citizens from this community has decided that your deathis justified.

There are several purposes that are usually considered and may beserved by a particular sentence. See18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2). The jury's factual findings make clear that there isreally only one purpose to be served by the death sentence imposed on you.

This sentence is not necessary to protect society from any danger thatyou might present in the future. See 18 U.S.C. § 3553 (a)(2)(C). The jury was not persuaded that you would be dangerous ifsentenced to life in prison without the possibility ofPage 5

This sentence is obviously not intended to rehabilitate you or to deteryou from committing crimes in the future. See18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(B), (D). Nor was there any argument or evidence thatexecuting you will generally deter other potential murderers.See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(B). I have never seen anyevidence that the death penalty serves this purpose. Indeed, theirrationality of your crimes illustrates why capital punishment isunlikely to deter potentially violent criminals.

However, the jury's fact-finding and verdicts make clear that itdecided that the death penalty is appropriate in this case to reflect theseriousness of your crimes and to provide just punishment for them.See 18 U.S.C. § 3553 (a)(2)(A). The law calls this"retribution." Retribution is: "one of the purposes of punishment, []satisfying the instinct of retaliation and revenge, which naturallyarises in a victim, but also to a considerable extent in societygenerally. It may be deemed controlled and regularized vengeance exactedby society." David M. Walker, The Oxford Companion to Law 1068(Oxford Univ. Press 1980). So the death sentence that I have imposed onyou is really intended solely to serve the purpose of retribution,meaning retaliation or revenge. In essence, the jury decided that becauseof the utter contempt that you showed for the lives of Philip McCloskey,Jonathan Rizzo, and Robert Whitney, your life should be taken too.

The morality of the death penalty can be debated on religious andphilosophical grounds. Such debate continues constantly in our country. Ihave received letters that essentially argue that thePage 6death penalty is immoral and, therefore, I should not impose it.However, in our nation there is another morality that governs judges. Itis sometimes called the "morality of consent." See AlexanderM. Bickel, The Morality of Consent (Yale Univ. Press 1975).

We live, by consent, in a democracy. The people, through theirrepresentatives in Washington, D.C., have decided that the death penaltyis justified in some cases. The people, through the jury, have decidedthat death is the proper penalty in your case. Believing in ourdemocracy, and respecting the jury greatly, I have imposed that sentence.

I have, however, sentenced you to death with a great sense of personalresponsibility and also with some sadness. That sadness is not becauseyour punishment does not fit your crime. It does. You destroyed the livesof Philip McCloskey, Jonathan Rizzo, and Robert Whitney. You deeply andirreparably damaged each of their families. If anyone deserves the deathpenalty, you do.

However, I impose this sentence with some sadness because we live in anation of decent people who, going back to the Declaration ofIndependence, have historically had as an ideal a reverence forlife.4 By committing horrific crimes that virtually compelled decentpeople in this community to condemn you to die,Page 7you have diminished, if not degraded, us all.

Unfortunately, no sentence can bring Philip McCloskey, Jonathan Rizzo,or Robert Whitney back to life. No sentence can truly be sufficient fortheir families.

Although this trial necessarily focused on you, the testimony providedmeaningful insight into your victims' lives, and the pain and sufferingthat you have inflicted on their families. These are wounds that I expectwill never fully heal. It is my hope, however, that this trial, thejury's verdicts, and this sentence will help the victims' families moveon to lives which, like their powerful and poignant testimony, will beglorious memorials to those whom they have loved and lost.

1. When a death sentence is imposed for a violation of18 U.S.C. § 2119(3), the statute does not authorize the imposition of afine.

2. Sampson murdered Robert Whitney in New Hampshire after killingPhilip McCloskey and Jonathan Rizzo. Sampson was not charged with theWhitney murder in this case as it was not a federal offense and, in anyevent, venue in this court would have been improper. However, the juryconsidered the Whitney murder in deciding the appropriate punishment forSampson in this case because it was one of the aggravating factorsalleged by the government and admitted by Sampson. See18 U.S.C. § 3593(a).

3. As Justice Louis D. Brandeis wrote: "Knowledge is essential tounderstanding, and understanding should precede judging." Jay BurnsBaking Co. v. Brvan, 264 U.S. 504, 520 (1924) (Brandeis, J.,dissenting).

4. As the Declaration of Independence states: "We hold these truthsto be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowedby their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are,Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

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