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Eaton's case demonstrates why death penalty should be abolished

Aug 9, 2013 - Daniel Talley, Riverton


Recent headlines in The Ranger offer yet another update in the now decade-long saga of appeals for Wyoming's only death row inmate, Dale Eaton. There is no execution date for Mr. Eaton in the foreseeable future, as has been the case. No one, not even his defense team, disputes Mr. Eaton's guilt in the brutal rape and murder of a young woman 25 years ago, but they have nevertheless been very effective in appealing the sentence time and time again.

Critics are missing the issue. It is not Mr. Eaton nor the intransigence of his lawyers but the broken system of capital punishment in Wyoming and the U.S. as a whole. Taxpayers have spent millions on this scoundrel, when it would have been far less expensive to simply assign a sentence of life without parole, thereby giving the family of the victim closure and denying Mr. Eaton all the attention.

How do Gov. Mead and the state legislators justify the energy and expense in continuing to pursue this case when in all likelihood the now 66-year-old Mr. Eaton will never actually be executed? Assuming that years from now an execution date is ever set, the state would lack the means and protocol to even carry it out. A shortage of lethal injection drugs have left other states who routinely carry out executions with dwindling supplies and no way of obtaining more. Any attempt to circumvent this problem with other methods would naturally lead to another series of appeals anyway.

The only solution is to abolish the death penalty in Wyoming. It's easy to suggest Mr. Eaton be taken out of his cell and shot, but since this is not a possibility it really does no good talking about it. We as the taxpayers must stop paying for nothing and tell our brilliant leaders in Cheyenne to eliminate this expensive and failed law from our statutes.

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