15 year-old Sherman Burnett, a St. Louis area teen with an angelic face, was convicted today of abducting, sexually assaulting, and beating a six year-old child when he was 13. He left the girl half-dead in the middle of a cold November chill two years ago. The St. Louis Dispatch reports that, “she had suffered a skull fracture, a lacerated liver and heavy bruises, and half an ear had been torn off.”
“She told police she couldn’t walk, so she crawled through a hole in a fence near the tracks but could go no further. As night descended, she said, she tried to cover herself with leaves. From her hospital bed, the girl identified Burnett from a school picture.”
They also report that the 8 year old victim wrote to the Judge presiding over the trial and requested that Burnett be sentenced to 60 years in prison and that’s what Judge Marvin Wiesman gave him.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked its readers whether or not they believed the sentence was appropriate and 46% agreed that it was, 16% said it was too lenient, and 37% said it was too harsh. However, it was the comments made in their comment section that were truly illuminating. The blood thirsty rantings of outraged people harken back to the days of lynching.
“Really, there is no point in keeping this animal alive. By the time it’s sixty, what difference does it make if it’s “rehabilitated.” It should be killed…plain and simple. The viciousness with which this crime was carried out mertis only one punishment…death. Let us stop pretending that the system is designed to rehabilitate…well, let the animal get taken apart in prison for a while, and then kill it…””No, the sentence was not appropriate. He should have been sentenced to death. I hope that he is assigned a cell with a huge male homosexual who not only sodomizes him on a regular basis, but prostitutes him to the rest of the inmates. Then I hope that he develops cancer of the rectum and dies in agony before he is eighteen. “
“When I think about that poor little girl, crawling through a hole in a fence because she could no longer walk, trying to keep warm with leaves after what that animal did to her fills my eyes with tears of rage…he deserves to die.”
One commenter, identified as Jack Seiler, spoke for me “No, this sentence is not appropriate. Although, the sentence is indicative of the compassionless, draconian U.S. criminal justice system where human warehousing takes precedence over rehabilitation. I acknowledge the severity of the crime is abhorent, but considering the age of the boy at the time of the offense, it seems more justified that he should have been incarcerated in a facility where intense therapy was integral and then had his reentry into society examined at the age of majority. The fact that this Judge summarily threw this boy’s life away is nearly as sad as the crime that occurred.”
This level of violence is learned behavior and probably indicative of some kind of severe physical and emotional abuse and possibly mental illness. I have a hard time envisioning these children, both he and the girl, as anything but victims. I have nothing but contempt for a judge who hands down draconian sentences like this. It gives new meaning to cruel and unusual. This kid is sick. Incarcerating him until he is 64, without psychiatric treatment, will do nothing about that.