Sky TV have started a new channel recently featuring serious crimes and murders and I have to say we are becoming hooked. Sky Crime features mostly American serial killers and stories of Ted Bundy and his ilk. The only small complaint is that these serious, heavyweight documentaries go on for up to three hours – we’re up until all hours. Another problem is that many of them really are frightening and so Razzi has taken to sleeping with the light on again. During one documentary, featuring a lady who murdered and mutilated her husband, there was no sign of Razzi until we found him hiding behind the couch. I don’t know why he watches them if they scare him this much.
One programme entitled; I Love You, Now Die, is a two part HBO film that tells the extraordinary story of two teenagers from Massachusetts, Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy III. They met in 2012, and only a handful of times after that, but built a relationship via thousands of text messages over the next two years before Roy, who suffered from depression, took his own life. In the days running up to his suicide, he received hundreds of messages from his girlfriend, later found on his phone by police, offering him encouragement. “Are you going to do it now?” “There’s a lot of ways.” “You keep over thinking it… just do it like you said.”
She was indicted for involuntary manslaughter.
Slowly we begin to realise that Michelle Carter isn’t quite the “black widow” she initially appears. Across the years and the thousands of messages, we start to see how desperately lonely and mentally fragile she was (she had been on antidepressants from a young age); how she tried for so long to support the young man she saw, or wanted to see (with little encouragement and often outright unkindness from him), as her boyfriend. We see how her inability to solve the problems of an 18-year-old who had already tried to take his own life four times merged with her desire to stay important to him, and led her to encourage him with his most self-destructive impulses. In the end, argued the defence psychiatrist in court, she thought she was helping him.
So first we have the small legal matter of whether Carter, whatever ethical responsibility she bore, could or should be charged with manslaughter. In Massachusetts, encouraging a suicide is not a crime. How, then, could her words justify a manslaughter conviction? The judge found that they could – and did. So did an appeals court.
I Love You, Now Die, is a study of the complexities of what happens when two people in a desperately unhappy state of mind meet and fall in love. Unfortunately in this case one is dead and Michelle is currently halfway through the 15-month sentence that was handed down to her.
The Cheshire Murders tells the story of a home invasion that goes terribly wrong and ends in murder and rape. The story takes place in Cheshire, Connecticut and not here in England which is what we originally thought when we saw it listed. In 2007, Jennifer Hawke-Petit was murdered and her 11 year-old and 17 year-old daughters were raped and murdered; her husband, Dr William Petit, was severely injured after being attacked with a baseball bat.
This story coursed us a great deal of confusion here at Jammy Toast. One of the defendants in this case was sentenced to the death penalty for killing the mother and two further death penalties for the two daughters. He was then given a fourth death penalty for raping the 11 year-old daughter and a fifth for attempted murder of their father.
That is five death penalties handed down to one man!
I don’t mean to make fun or laugh at a serious crime like this but how can you kill somebody five times? In the UK the harshest penalty a court can hand down is life imprisonment without the chance of parole. In America in 1994, Charles Scott Robinson was given a 30,000 year sentence for multiple counts of raping a small child. His sentence is the longest prison term imposed on a single individual in US history. Terry Nichols, convicted for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing received 161 life sentences without parole.
It just seems rather strange to me and reminds me of a scene from the Richard Prior and Gene Wilder film Stir Crazy where Wilder is sentenced to 125 years in prison. Wilder replies to the Judge; “Wha… wha… wha… what? I can’t do that much!”
The Judge replies; “Just do what you can, son.”
If it continues in this impressive vein, Sky Crime is going to prove to be a force to be reckoned with!