All Locked Up

January 5, 2010
Our in-justice system

The justice system isn’t perfect. The Supreme Court and constitutional amendments can attest to this. The epitome of this is Joe Sullivan’s case. On a May morning in 1989, Joe Sullivan, Nathan McCants, and Michael Gulley burglarized a home in Pensacola, Florida. They left the home with jewelry and coins. Later in the day, one of them returned to the home. When this person returned, the owner of the house was present. A 72-year-old woman. The intruder proceeded to tie down and blindfold the woman. The intruder then raped the woman. Afterwards, the woman required reconstructive surgery. Now, Joe Sullivan is set to serve out a life sentence with no chance of parole, which is a crime based on how the trial was carried out.

“All Locked Up” by Amy Bach explains how Joe is going to trial at the Supreme Court, because of how his case was executed. Bach thinks his trial was lopped together. It cannot be said to the degree of how correct Bach is. Unfortunately for him, Joe has a case that displays our justice system’s flaws as blatantly as a Zebra displays its stripes.

First off it is known that Joe Sullivan did in fact go rob the house with the two other boys, Joe was 13 and the other two were under 18. There is no question he should be charged for robbery. But the evidence to support that Joe returned later and raped the woman, is pathetic because Joe’s lawyer, Mack Plant, didn’t use any common sense.
Joe admitted to robbing the house, but denounced the idea of him raping the woman. Both assailants testified, without his knowing, that they were both innocent and that Joe went back to the house. Also, the victim testified that the person there was “a dark colored boy, had kinky hair, was quite black, and was small.” Joe fits this description. But the victim was a 72-year-old woman, and the fact that she had a black bag over her face makes identification absurd. Not to mention the rape could have caused mental trauma severing her reasoning abilities. She also said that the criminal told her, “If you can’t identify me, I may not have to kill you.” The woman said that Joe’s voice could be the one, but once again, this woman is not a suitable witness.
The case gets worse. The physical evidence fails on all levels. A finger print of Joe’s was found at the house, but was on a dresser in the room. People typically keep jewelry and their belongings in and on their dressers. This clearly could have been from the burglary. The clothing and other evidence was destroyed and for whatever reason couldn’t be tested for DNA.
So far the evidence against Joe is of three testimonies: one from an old woman who is emotionally distraught and is seeking vengeance and the other two from kids, who used Joe as a scapegoat and sidestepped the “justice” part of the justice system. As far as the jury should’ve been concerned, there was no physical evidence, because it is the definition of irrelevant. This scenario emulates the idea of some justice vs. no justice. The unprofessionalism of the judge, prosecutor, and defense makes me laugh. The D.A. didn’t act as a benefactor; he was a punter. He ultimately set Joe up by agreeing to plea bargains. This was a heinous crime. But the justice in this case was the biggest injustice of all.


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