Emmanuelle Purdon

The bungled pursuit of Brian Dugan

on 13 November 2009

 The Brian Dugan case in the US is probably one of the best examples of the absurdity of the death penalty.

It took over twenty five years to find him guilty and sentence him to death. Meanwhile, two innocents were each convicted twice and sent to their death before being exonerated. It led to the landmark malfeasance indictments of seven law-enforcement officials, which also led in turn to the death-penalty reform in Illinois. A third man was also charged, but fortunately never got convicted.

Rolondo Cruz, one of the two men who spent more than 10 years of his life on death row for a murder he didn't commit, said he hoped the jury's decision would help at least bring closure for the victim's families and for himself. "I pray all the victims are finding some sort of closure, or will find it in the future,'' said Cruz, who remains bitter about the way DuPage County officials handled the case and refused initially to charge Dugan.

The victim's family, the Nicaricos, waited over 25 years to see Dugan convicted. They had to wait more than a quarter century of weddings interrupted by cemetery visits, of missed graduations, of guilt and anguish. They had to sit through different trials before the murderer of their family member was finally convicted. Whilst expressing relief, Patricia Nicarico also tried to explain that that her shedding tears at the verdict were not of much joy either as "the death sentence is never a really joyful thing".

The family is expected to wait at least another ten years before he gets executed: that is, if his lawyers do not manage to reverse his conviction: As it turns out, Dugan is a seriously mentally ill defendant and a dangerous psychopath. His life has been a life of crime beginning with petty thefts, proceeding to a series of rapes and assaults on west suburban women and ending with the kidnappings, rapes and murders of not only Jeanine Nicarico, but 7-year-old Melissa Ackerman, of Somonauk, and Donna Schnorr, 27, of Geneva.

In fact, the only one who, at least, seemingly, didn't show any emotion was Brian Dugan himself: he lacks normal human emotions and has trouble controlling his violent impulses.

Dugan has already been serving 2 life sentences for those murders. His lawyers were requesting a third life sentence. Society was already safe.

Is the possible satisfaction one may get from knowing that Dugan is on death row (instead of prison for life) really worth so much suffering, so much time, energy and State's money wasted?

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