This person is accused of brutally murdering a Homewood (a suburb of Birmingham), Alabama mother and two of her sons, ages four and five.

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The murders took place last Friday (December 14, 2012) in the apartment home of the victims, and were discovered by the husband and father of the victims around noon. 

Here’s the lead-in to story in The Birmingham News:

HOMEWOOD, Alabama – A 29-year-old illegal immigrant brutally murdered a Homewood woman and her two young sons during a robbery at the family’s Homewood apartment, authorities said today.

According to the story, the mother was beaten to death and the children were strangled.  In other words, the frail-looking woman depicted in the photograph is accused of having killed three people using not much more than her brute strength.  The story didn’t say whether she beat the mom with some implement and strangled the children with a rope or cord, or whether she used her hands.  But it really doesn’t matter.  Does she look capable of invading a home and killing its three occupants without using a gun or knife or something similar?

All you need to know about the story is in its first few words.  She’s an illegal immigrant.  And so she is already culpable.  Illegal immigrants (and for that matter, legal immigrants of Hispanic origin) have now taken the place that blacks once held in Alabama as the preferred suspects when a police department needs to round up a usual one in order to quickly resolve a case.   The political zeitgeist has changed.  Whites still hate blacks, but can’t do much about it now.  Fortunately they now have another group to blame for their troubles. 

The City of Homewood, population roughly 26,000, is situated just to the south of Birmingham’s city limits (it shares its northern border with Birmingham), and is one of the many ringlet cities where whites (and others) escaped to from Birmingham, in a gradual process begun after the Second World War, which was greatly helped along by Civil Rights era disturbances.  Homewood fancies itself a hip, diverse and smart alternative to the other lily-white ringlet cities close by, but a cleaner, cooler and more urbane metropolis than Birmingham.  It is smug in its tranquility. Practically nothing ever happens in Homewood, except parades and festivals and and tasteful remodels of half-century old houses and “New Urban” mixed-use developments and farmer’s markets.  Lots and lots of farmer’s markets. 

It’s hard to say how this arrest will play out with Homewood’s citizens.  As they regard themselves as culturally (if perhaps not politically) progressive (a component of their hipster persona), it may not sit well with them.  But I suspect their darker angels will take over and accept the woman’s guilt without a moment’s hesitation, ignoring the reality that the whole thing looks rather suspicious. 

The woman is charged with four counts of capital murder, which is overkill in indictment, no pun intended, as there were only three people killed, but I suppose is ironically appropriate because she likely will also die as a result of the killings.  She supposedly killed the family (except the husband and third son, who was in school) in order to cover up a burglary.  She was found with a number of the family’s possessions in her own, illegally rented apartment.  But none of this adds up.  What sort of possessions would the family of a part-time construction worker and a stay-at-home mom of three, living in an apartment have?  The victims’ family is Hispanic (last name Juarez), like the rounded-up suspect (Dominguez), and may also be in the country illegally, though the story doesn’t tell.  But just by knowing where the family lived, on the poor side of town (away from the hipsters in their leafy, idealistic suburb of clean streets and sidewalks and million dollar homes), it’s pretty clear they could not have had enough stuff to make the possibility of getting killed by lethal injection worthwhile to any but the most craven of criminals. 

This case is another compelling reason why capital punishment should be abandoned.  The incentive for the state to find and kill someone, anyone, is just too great when a horrific, senseless crime like this takes place.  I don’t feel any safer that this woman is now behind bars (and probably will be until execution), yet I live in Homewood, if not on the mean side of town where this happened.  I know that in most cases like this, the  first place to look is the husband, yet the Homewood police, from the very beginning said he wasn’t a suspect.    So they come up with this woman.  This may be a matter of brilliant police work, and it may turn out that the woman actually did what she is accused of doing.  But I’m skeptical.  It just doesn’t add up.

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