Who should make the decision as to what is the appropriate penalty for crimes? Courts? Legislatures? Juries? Defend your answer.
Eight days after the crime, and despite L. H.’s insistence that Kennedy was not the offender, Kennedy was arrested for the rape. The state’s investigation had drawn the accuracy of Kennedy and L. H.’s story into question. Police found that Kennedy made two telephone calls on the morning of the rape. Sometime before 6:15 A.M., Kennedy called his employer and left a message that he was unavailable to work that day. Kennedy called back between 6:30 and 7:30 A.M. to ask a colleague how to get blood out of a white carpet because his daughter had “just become a young lady.” At 7:37 A.M., Kennedy called B & B Carpet Cleaning and requested urgent assistance in removing bloodstains from a carpet. Kennedy did not call 911 until about an hour and a half later.
About a month after Kennedy’s arrest, L. H. was removed from the custody of her mother, who had maintained until that point that Kennedy was not involved in the rape. On June 22, 1998, L. H . was returned home and told her mother for the first time that Kennedy had raped her. And on December 16, 1999, about 21 months after the rape, L. H . recorded her accusation in a videotaped interview with the Child Advocacy Center.
The state charged Kennedy with aggravated rape of a child under La. Stat. Ann. § 14:42 (West 1997 and Supp. 1998) and sought the death penalty. According to the statute, “aggravated” applies to anal or vaginal rape without the consent of the victim when it’s committed under any of 10 aggravating circumstances, one of which is when the victim was under 12 years of age at the time of the rape. The penalty for aggravated rape is life in prison at hard labor without parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. But, if the victim is under 12, the prosecutor asks for the death penalty: “The offender shall be punished by death or life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence, in accordance with the determination of the jury.”