Tuesday, July 13, 2010

William Garner deserves the death penalty

Originally posted 10/21/07.... bumped to the top today, 7/13/10 at 10:38 AM, the exact date and time of William Garner's death.

At 10:38 this morning, I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that this chapter is finally closed. He will never again physically hurt another person, although the mental pain he has caused so many will linger for a VERY long time. He may have "escaped" through death, but I'm OK with that, because he's finally gone.

I have no problem with the death penalty. There are people who commit terrible crimes who do not deserve to live. William Garner is one of those people.

I've been a Red Cross volunteer since December, 1991. In January, 1992, I went to one of the worst fires I've ever been to. It was only my third fire run, but the second death. The first was a wheelchair-ridden grandmother who set herself on fire, committing suicide. The second, was arson, which resulted in the deaths of 5 children.

The kids were having a sleep-over- four siblings, a cousin and a friend from down the street. The oldest was 13. At some time during the night, after the kids were asleep, the mother, Addie Mack, went outside, slipped and fell on the icy sidewalk, injuring her ankle. She woke up her oldest son, Rod, and told him she was going to the emergency room to have her ankle checked out. While in the ER, her purse was stolen by William Garner.

Garner took a taxi to Mack's apartment, entered the apartment using her keys, and searched for items to steal. He entered each bedroom, observing the sleeping children, and then settled on some electronic equipment he found appealing. As he was loading the taxi with the items, one of the kids woke up. Memory told me it was the 13 year old, but the official court report says it was one of the young girls. He got her a drink of water, let her watch a little tv, and then sent her back to bed, telling her that he ran into her mom at the ER and she had asked him to go check on the kids. He reassured her mom was ok, and would return soon... but then he got scared.

He realized the child could ID him, so he set several fires in the apartment. One was at the base of the stairs, behind the tv which he had decided to leave in the apartment. He then had the taxi driver take him home where he unloaded the stolen goods.

Meanwhile, the fires raged. The smoke woke up the oldest, who tried in vain to get the other kids to leave through a bedroom window. He jumped first, sliding out onto a dormer over the front door and then down to the ground below. None of the kids followed.... they all died from smoke inhalation.

I inspected the house, fearing seeing burnt outlines of the tiny bodies who had perished- but luckily, found none. The families had left the scene and were at the Coroner's office, where I met them. The survivor, Rod, was sitting quietly in the corner, his face swollen and streaked with dried tears. The mothers- all single- crying and hysterically beating their chests, calling out with the familiar "WHYYYYYYYY..... WHYYYYYYYYYY" question that no one could answer.

Then something happened I never expected, and still can't forget. The grandfather approached Rod, grabbed his shoulders and shook him, yelling "HOW COME YOU WERE THE ONLY ONE TO GET OUT!!! WHY DIDN'T YOU PUSH THEM OUT THE WINDOW!! HOW COME YOU SURVIVED, BUT NONE OF THE OTHER KIDS DID!!!"
God. I will NEVER forget that. It was SO tragic... I know he was overcome by grief, and honestly wanted to know "why", but the way he accused Rod of being the lone survivor haunts me.

On the way home, I broke down. While you're with the families, you have a job to do. You're a professional, and you handle it. But when you leave, you're just a person again, and it hits you like a ton of bricks. You cry, and you hit things- the steering wheel, or the passenger seat, and you start asking the same WHYYYYYYY questions the family members ask. You get ANGRY, because you know this wasn't a mistake- it was done on purpose. As I was driving home, I had the radio on, and the story was all over the airwaves. I found out that the taxi driver turned the guy in to the police and he was already in custody.

It's been 15 years since that happened. Rod is now 29, married, and father to a 8 week old son. And William Garner just had his conviction overturned.


Overturned because his new lawyer was able to prove to two of the three judges on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that William is "borderline mentally retarded" and didn't understand his Miranda Rights. The judges declared that Garner either be released, or retried for the crimes.

I am SICK about this.

This COWARD stole a purse, broke into a house, inspected the house and KNEW it was full of sleeping children, stole items from the house, waking one of the kids, gave her a drink of water, talked to her, sent her back to bed, AND THEN SET FIRES TO COVER UP HIS BURGLARY!!!!!!

He was smart enough to steal a purse.
He was smart enough to take a taxi to the Mack home, and have the driver wait for him while he cleared it out.
He was quick-witted enough to come up with a story about being "a friend of your Mom's- she sent me to check on you kids" when one child woke up.
He was forward-thinking enough to realize she could ID him, so he set fires, intentionally, to KILL the witness.
He was arrested, read his Miranda Rights, and even signed them, acknowledging on tape that he understood them, and then not only confessed, but provided intricate details about the crimes.

The only stupid thing he did was have the taxi driver take him to his own house to unload the stolen goods. As soon as the driver heard about the deadly fire that morning, he called the police and told them exactly where to find Garner.

This is NOT a "borderline mentally retarded" man. Borderline mentally retarded people aren't quick-witted enough to do the things he did that night. Borderline mentally retarded people don't set THREE FIRES to cover up their crime without realizing what they are doing. I remember feeling relief when his death sentence was announced, and when I read today's article about it being overturned.. I wanted to SCREAM.


I've emailed the county prosecutor's office, asking to assist. I don't know if they will contact me, but I hope they do. I want everyone to know how sadistic and purposeful Garner's actions were that night. I want everyone to hear about the emotional and grief-stricken response of the family.
I want William Garner's death sentence reinstated. NOW.


I am not opposed to the death penalty. At all.

One of my first Red Cross runs involved arson, theft, and death. Five children were killed by a coward who stole a woman's purse in the emergency room of a local hospital and took a cab to her house to rob it. He loaded up the cab with household goods like radios, tv's, and other items. One of the six kids asleep upstairs heard him, and went downstairs to check it out. He said he was a friend of their Mom's, who had asked him to go check on the kids while she was in the ER. The child asked for a drink of water, and then went back upstairs. That's when he freaked out, realizing the child could identify him... so he set three fires to cover up his tracks. One child survived by jumping out the 2nd story window. They couldn't get downstairs- he had set fires all around the stairs, making them impassable.

I first went to the scene of the fire, to inspect the damage. I was so scared. I was afraid I would see little charred outlines where the kids had died. Or maybe those Hollywood chalk outlines of their tiny bodies. What if it smelled like burnt bodies? What did burnt bodies smell like anyway? Worse than hair melted by an over-heated hair dryer? How would I handle being around the families? So many questions. So many fears.

There were no charred remains; no chalk outlines; no dead body smell. The bodies had already been taken to the morgue, and the families were there, hoping to view them. The morgue is where I met the families. One was a single mother, whose only child was killed in the fire. The surviving child was there too, telling his story in a flat, even, disbelieving tone. I remember the grandfather, yelling at this poor boy, asking him why he was the only one to survive; why didn't he try harder to get the other kids out. I wonder if the child, Rod, now a man, remembers that moment with the same horror I do. The man who committed the crime, William Garner, was under arrest before I even got home.

It was a Sunday morning. I know this, because I remember stopping at a local church just before the second service started. I asked the greeter for a prayer card. I had held it together in front of the family- something I'm very proud of. But by the time I got to that church, I had been crying for some time. I smelled like smoke, and had tear-stained cheeks when I entered that church, so it was pretty obvious something bad had happened. The greeter, instead of giving me a card, asked me what happened. I told him, briefly, that I was asking for prayers for the families of the 5 children killed in an arson fire that morning. He was horrified, and struck with the same silence most would be after hearing such a tale. With a slightly less-heavy heart, I went home.

William Garner was eventually convicted, and sentenced to death. It was the first time in my life I actually pumped my fists and yelled "YESSSSSSSS" when I heard the news.

In October 2007, I got the news that his sentence had been overturned, because his new lawyer convinced an appeals court that he was too stupid to understand his Miranda Rights as they were read to him.

Fortunately, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals OVERTURNED THAT DECISION today, and upheld his death penalty sentence.

William Garner, I hope you die soon and rot in HELL, you bastard!

Originally published March 3, 2009... Updated, July 13, 2010, at 10AM, EST... at which time William Garner's execution will begin. Relief. Relief is what I feel right now; I cannot even imagine how the family of those five children feel.