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The greatest gift
November 11, 2008 - Joe Gorman
Terrance Tate's plea deal last week was anticlimatic.
As jurors were assembling in the courtroom of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge R. Scott Krichbaum to hear his death penalty case, he reached a plea and a 15-year sentence for the death of 1-year-old Javonte Covington in April of 2006 after medical experts were prepared to testify the boy could have lived if his mother had sought treatment from the beating he received from Tate that ultimately took his life.
In the span of minutes, Tate goes from facing the death penalty to getting out of prison before he's 40.
And that is not right.
Prosecutors told me they weren't happy either and said that on the bright side, the case was on the verge of being dismissed after Judge John Durkin agreed to throw out Tate's confession, so at least he will do some time.
The case had been through the proverbial wringer, with too many twists and turns to list here except to say they all centered around the defendant and his rights or violations of those said rights.
Yet, no one spoke of Javonte's rights. No one spoke of his right to grow up and go to school and maybe play football or baseball and go trick or treating.
As I have written before, this case has struck a chord with me because I have young children and I also buried one; there is nothing in the world like closing the lid of the casket on your baby's face for the last time.
I imagine a grieving pack of relatives at Javonte's funeral and contrast that with the arguments his lawyers made in court about his rights. And it just doesn't add up.
It seems lately that victims are shut out. When Bennie Adams was sentenced to death for killing Gina Tenney, her parents were not even allowed to address the court about the death of their baby. And victims are almost never allowed to address a defendant.
So Tate gets a sweetheart deal. It is hard to imagine a jury not giving him death or at least life in prison for beating a helpless baby boy to death. But I've decided to look at the positives:
Baby killers do not do well in prison.
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