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back to article Megan's Law snafu fingered in rapist's murder

The stabbing death of a convicted rapist 35 days after he was released from prison may have stemmed from a public database that erroneously described him as a child molester, California police say. Michael A. Dodele was found dead in his run-down mobile home on November 20. The cause of death was puncture wounds to his side and …

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Pirate

Kill all the Alligators!

We have to do SOMETHING!!

Dumas F. Vigilante

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Genius parenting skills

"I felt that by not taking evasive action as a father in the right direction, I might as well have taken my child to some swamp filled with alligators and had them tear him to pieces,"

I'm sure his children will be delighted that instead they're going to grow up with a father in jail for murder.

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Flame

So they want Sarah's law?

This is a classic example why there shouldn't be a Sarah's or indeed a Megan's law.

It is well known that innocent people get hurt by publishing untrue information, remember the vigilantes to the News of the Screws publishing paedophile information only for half of the info to be wrong.

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Well...

Vigilantism is wrong behavior, certainly, but rape - a violent crime - is no better, and the "victim" in this case was a repeat rapist.

It's hard to find any moral outrage in the death of a rapist.

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On Sexual Offenders in the US

This might be more poignant to the readers who are thinking "But I'm not a rapist", when you consider that public urination gets you onto the Sex Offenders registry in the US. And since they've already demonstrated the capability to list people in the wrong class of offence...

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No surprise there then

This is the very reason why people have campaigned against naming and shaming. Even when the person listed on the database is a child molester there's no guarantee that they don't share their name with someone else living in the same area. There will always be vigilante attacks in every culture and the simple truth is that innocent people WILL be targetted at some point. So this time you have someone who was guilty of an offense, but not the one that was listed on the database. Next time it could be purely because they have the same name as someone on the database.

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Anonymous Coward

And is anyone surprised ?

Much as I find these sort of activities disgusting, it has to be pointed out that it has already been pointed out, that such disclosures were bound to result in vigilante attacks like this.

So will the state be charged with manslaughter (or whatever they call it over there) ? It would seem to be a reasonable question since they took action that could reasonably be forseen to result in this persons death.

Somehow I think the answer is likely to be no.

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One down.......

Whether this guy committed his crimes against children or adults doesn't make him any more or less evil, the tone of the article implies that he was guilty of multiple crimes and probably a recommitter. His killer is no doubt going to go to prison, after all two wrongs don't make a right but as a father I can understand and even sympathise with his point of view. The victims of sex offenders are all condemned to life sentences, the offenders should be too.

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Alert

Data Entry error leads to Murder...

Hmmm... Enjoy the ID Card Database

But ofcourse, with the Biometrics, our government will never make any mistakes.

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Hmmmmm....

Could his name be Buttle?

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surprised?

Is anyone actually surprised at this result?

[long post deleted by author]

It was as predictable as what happens when you apply a spark to a gas leak. Of course, those warning about this very issue were ignored. Now at least one person is dead. I wonder how many more lives will be ruined before something changes?

Having happened in the US, I wonder if those responsible for the data/website can be sued? Assuming the victim has any relatives, and that the government hasn't exempted itself from any liability for screwing up.

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FINGER it out

So it's not good to be a rapist of any one, of any age. Might get your name published in a list that some "Sick-O" parent will see, and kill ya.

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Coat

Maybe

Dexter?

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Jobs Horns

What comes next?

A multi-billion dollar lawsuit by the 'next of kin' against the State of California?

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Dan
Paris Hilton

charles bronson

This is a big step further than that case in the UK several years back of a paediatrician being attacked by an illiterate mob who thought her job was "paedophile".

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@ Chris G and others

You might say the system is flawed, maybe it lets people out who shouldn't. But, don't paint all people in jail with the same brush. Many people made mistakes, and paid the price. Don't make them pay it again and again, and then chuckle when some person who spent 42 years of his life in and out of jail gets murdered because of a preceived threat. I mean, if you were a drunk driver who was caught once, and I found out, and because I had a family member killed by a drunk driver, I hunt you down and kill you, would that be fine? I mean, I can point to gristly statistics supporting my view that drunk drivers kill, and by killing you, I save lives. Victims of drunk drivers are "condemned to life sentences" too. So, one drunk driving offense should be your ticket to eventual murder... you know, just to save another life. Even if, hey, you've been sober for 25 years. Cause once a drunk driver, always a drunk driver, right?

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Re: One down...

"The victims of sex offenders are all condemned to life sentences, the offenders should be too."

I used to have a similar opinion, but a point was made to me that made me change my mind:

As long as the penalty for rape is less than the penalty for murder, there is no incentive for the rapist to kill. Once the penalties are the same, it is to the assailant's advantage to eliminate the victim/witness, since doing so can reduce the likelihood of later identification and conviction. And if they DO catch you, they can only hang you once, so you're really no worse off.

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Simple solution

I should think the way to avoid vigilante attacks like this is obvious.

Lengthen the sentences for both rapists and child molesters until the recidivism rate is at an acceptable level. Such as 15 parts per million.

Unfortunately, that isn't likely to happen. If we don't have capital punishment for murders associated with sexual assaults, then a life sentence for rape would encourage rapists to murder their victims. Thus, sadly, we don't have an easy way to avoid exposing women and girls to apparently avoidable risk.

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@Morely Dotes

Surely the whole idea with sending someone to prison etc is that the courts have determined a punishment and once that punishment has been served then the person has paid their "debt to society" and they should be accepted back into society with a clean balance sheet.

Is there really any justification for some vigilante deciding that the court's punishment is insufficient and they need to add their extra bit?

That does not only apply to murdering ex-cons, but even to those that just run the bloke out of the trailer park.

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Anonymous Coward

@Chris G

As a father you're the person most likely to molest and physically abuse your child (or maybe it's uncle) not a rogue child molester and that is one of the most tangiable facts in child abuse. The whole thing is a smoke screen to deflect from that core issue, most child molestation happens in the family. But it's easier to believe in boogey men. Sure they exist but the hysteria around it shows the poor state of social awarness and journalism.

Also you commit a crime and you go to prison, you serve your time and you leave, possibly rehabilitated possibly not and that's how the world works.

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Sad lack of Darwinism

We're master of our domain, us humans. It's a pity, because I'd like to think people that stupid would have died out by now otherwise.

I can console myself with the fact that they're only American.

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Incarcerate? Why not?

Regardless of whether you believe that this particular individual was bound to rape again, it's a little hypocritical to support the use of murder to prevent a rape.

We already have the highest rate of incarceration in the U.S., as opposed to other countries. Are U.S.ians just better criminals?

I love this line, "Police have yet to assign a motive for the slaying" like they need to assign a motive to decide whom to prosecute. "All the physical evidence points to this guy, but gosh darn it, we just can't find a motive. Oh, well, you're free to go." At least we don't have the smartest cops on the planet (that may be contributing to the lack of a functional criminal justice system).

The core of the story is: he was mis-classified as a threat to juveniles. The fact that he raped adults is, unfortunately, irrelevant. He could have been a bank robber. If he was mis-classified; they got it wrong; period. You would think after 20 years in prison, he would have been unwilling to go back there. Or, he would have been so messed up, he probably wouldn't have been functional, period.

At any rate, unless you support the death penalty for rapists, and you are willing to carry out that sentence yourself, I don't see how you can support the vigilante. Obviously, living in a trailer park has not made this father any more intelligent. The fact is, any other person living in that trailer park, including the father, would be just as likely to molest his son. [tasteless joke here] I was going to say something about eliminating competition...na, I'm going to get enough crap from all the law and order types already.

Guess which section of the population goes through mucho divorces, domestic violence, and general damage to their families? Cops and prison guards.

Just who's watching the watchmen? Obviously not the vigilantes.

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@Charles Manning

> Surely the whole idea with sending someone to prison (...) the person has paid their "debt to society"

Yes, spot on. This seems to be a view held by fewer people every day (doubtless aided by a mindless, braying media), many of whom would quietly applaud a lawless, vigilante-style murder/tar & feathering of the "perv" after he's been dealt with according to law. Either accept that due punishment has been handed out or get the relevant legislation changed.

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In 1987?

The guy's last offense was 20 years ago. Seems like he had plenty of time to become a little bit less of a rapist.

Good thing they don't publish that suspected terrorists list, as that would obviously trigger quite a few witch hunts.

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California

In the state of California they are using the mental hygiene laws against some sex offenders. THe way it works is this. Lets say you are sentence to 15 years. You do the full 15 and are let out. No parole , probation nothing. Either you agree to be monitored or they toss you in a mental ward till you agree, under the guise of that you a threat to society. THis is for life. You could say leave the state, but then thats not agreeing to be monitored and off you go

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Mistakes

I remember when the law was first being debated. Apparently if you're convicted of statutory rape you're also on the list. And after the database started, one couple had their house burned down, because it was still listed as the home address of a pedophile. If the government is going to post this information online, they have to do it in such a manner that innocent people don't get hurt (and no, I don't necessarily mean that rapist).

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Coat

I accuse the copyeditor

From the Times article: "But a listing on the Megan's Law website could have left Oliver with the impression that he had abused children because of the way it was written."

Time to stop saying that bad writing never killed anyone.

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Anonymous Coward

Punishment vs protection

In terms of "punishment", such rapists may have paid their debts, but the issue of protection is different. Andrew Mournian may have served a few weeks punishment for beating up hsi girlfriend, but a mistakenly naive approach to giving him a clean slate (as some here feel is due) led to her being murdered as soom as they let him out. See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7139202.stm

Vigiliantes may not be the answer, but there are some people for whom throwing away the key (or perhaps in some case castration etc.) may be the only safe option for society,

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Anonymous Coward

Justice may be blind in the court of law

But in reality, it has eyes...

Boo hoo, some convicted douche bag rapist meets up up with an unnatural demise. That's Karma... Call me cold blooded but having several friends sexually assaulted, and seeing the aftermath, excuse the hell out of me if I'm just a little less than sympathetic.

For the individual who thinks some of these predators can be rehabilitated, down to the level of, oh say, 15 per million... Would you welcome one of these animals into your apartment building, with open arms? I certainly wouldn't. So, if one of these bastards manages to put down stakes in my neighborhood, mind if I direct him towards yours?

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Coat

Good, bad, or ugly?

"We already have the highest rate of incarceration in the U.S., as opposed to other countries. Are U.S.ians just better criminals?"

Er, no. Because they're locked up, they're not counted as good criminals you see. They're a bit rubbish, really, what with the getting caught and all...

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Coat

Won't someone think of the bikes!!

Didn't the guy knocking off a quick one on his bike (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/26/bike_incident/ ) get put on the register.

I think it should be published - I have young mountain bikes at home....

Since the children of violent offenders are much more likely to commit violent crimes themselves - presumably the address of the kid should be published so I don't risk living near him.

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JK

Re: So they want Sarah's law?

"It is well known that innocent people get hurt by publishing untrue information [...]" -- I don't think the guy can be classified as remotely "innocent".

Like another Reg reader wrote, "It's hard to find any moral outrage in the death of a rapist."

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@Justice may be blind in the court of law

You are kinda proving the problem with this list. If someone who is put on the list for something minor (not that rape is but I am thinking of the urinating in public) then gets misclassified as a child rapist. People will hate them and their life will be ruined.

A list such as the sex offenders list can only work if it has the Worst of the Worst(TM) and is accurate. Not fairly accurate but accurate.

I ask you Annon Coward. Have you ever urinated in public? Well if the answer is yes then it is possible that you could be classified as a child rapist as this case shows. I know the rapist in this case was not urinating in public but it makes it possible.

Don't even get me started on if an official has a personal grudge with someone.

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Ah yes, the old NIMBY arguement

See... when you argue "Not in my backyard," you actually can end up making the problem worse. Read stories of people who were imprisoned who were actually not guilty. You will see a long, sad history of men, mostly, who have no lives, no social skills, drug problem, and no employability. And they end up living on the bottom rung of society, or worse, actually committing a crime, and going back to jail. And those are the innocent who were in jail. Now, in that same environment, put a 15, 20, 25 year old male who did commit a crime, be it drug possession, assault, theft, rape, manslaughter, etc. Do you think someone who had issues beforehand is going to come out of the brutal existence that is prison with a better or worse disposition?

So, do you just assume then that once you commit, you need to be locked up forever? There is a reason recidivism is such a problem with people who have been in jail. The main reason is they are let out from a place where they were punished instead of rehabilitated. So, they leave prison best case in the same mental and emotional state they went in. The only thing added to that would be a strong desire to never go back, OR even worse mental pathology that will increase recidivism.

Sexual assault becomes a thorny issue, because the reasons are very often non-sexual in nature, and may mask or exaggerate issues underlying. And as someone pointed out above, regardless of what the media portrays, the typical child abductor/molester/killer is going to be related, or a family friend. Just like if you ask the average moron on the street if a plane or car is safer, they might actually say car... even though you are far less likely to be injured or killed while flying the plane. The most dangerous part of the whole trip is getting to and from the airport. But, the plane crash that kills 100 people is much more highly publicized, but the thousands of highway fatalities each year you never hear about, unless it's a handful at a time. It's sick, and it greatly distorts the world view.

And the last issue regarding "reporting" laws, like Megan's law, is that you have a list which includes people who may actually not have committed a crime most people would actually consider predation. Like the kid in GA, I believe, who was jailed for having consensual oral sex with a 15 year old while he was 17. He was put on the sex offender registry for that, in addition to being jailed for a few years. Apparently, if he had just had sex with her, it would have only been a misdemeanor instead of felony. A dick in the mouth is a lot worse than a dick in the bush I guess. So his life was ruined. All for the sake of overzealous people who feel that if you commit one crime in your life, you're worth less than the dirt we walk on. And someone who didn't bother to come to terms with his crime might just go out and kill him, not realizing he was a minor when he was with a minor.... just because they freaked out and had an attack of NIMBY....

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Coat

Simple solution

It's interesting how so many people have simple solutions. My take is that we should just make trailer parks illegal.

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Alien

hmm

Hmm for real justice the wowser responsible should get the death sentence , failing that listed on the same database with the same details as was erroneously listed on the unfortunate victim of his dumb vendetta rage !

So thus the cycle of same stupidity continues at a future date !

Little wonder the Norwegian High Court ruled that the US fails to meet the minimum standards as detailed in the UN conventions !

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Heart

I love living in the US

Every story like this makes me love our genius citizens, immigrant or not, and our lovely, accurate, in-depth, and informative media outlets. I am just happy there was no mention of Michael Vick, Britney, or OJ in this story.

The story itself is crap and serves no purpose. The dead man...still commited a crime against another person, child or not, and rape is the worst personal crime other than murder. The killer...typical idiot that is given a weapon in this country and has no business being allowed to think on his own. Too much TV make Ivan go crazy.

In summary, I would like to thank the original writer for weaving this elaborate story together, much like and episode of CSI or Law and Order. I am on the edge of my seat to see what is next!

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E

Open your eyes

There is a thing called rule of law that whether any of you will admit it, you live in peace by.

If you really think rapists should be killed, then have the balls to lobby your MPs/Congresspersons/what-have-you for a death penalty law.

Whether rapists should be killed, I will not comment on. But if you condone vigilante actions, you destroy rule of law. Without rule of law you all live in a jungle. Good luck with that.

If you can't find it in yourselves to back your words with petitions or citizens initiates for the death penalty - your name signed on a piece of paper for all to see - then you are are either hypocrites or cowards. In either case you should shut the f**k up.

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Anonymous Coward

The Star Wars angle.

I think Star Wars: A New Hope says everything about today's society.

In the original cut, Han Solo cold-bloodedly shot Greedo, who was demanding payment for debts owing to one J Hutt Esq. Over the course of the trilogy, the "bad b@st@rd" Solo was rehabilitated and became a true hero and all-round good egg.

It was a story of redemption.

20 years on, a "more mature" Lucas changed his mind. "You can't have him shooting first! That's what Bad Men do!"

Turn-of-the-century politics doesn't believe in forgiveness, not even in fairy tales....

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Stop

RE: charles bronson

@Dan; actually, the Paediatrician had the word "Paedo" painted on her front door, at which point she decided to move - she was never attacked. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4719364.stm

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Coat

the only way

to be sure is to kill everyone !

I know..... TAXI !

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@Peter

Not nearly ludicrously complicated enough. Here's your coat.

I wonder if the twits praising this guy noted the fact that the victim was 67 years old. Let's give him a f***ing parade, why don't we. Congratulations, you successfully stabbed a pensioner to death. You are the wind beneath my f***ing wings. For an encore, maybe we can send him back in time so he can beat the killers of James Bulger to death with a baseball bat while they were still ten years old.

The question of whether Dodele was still a danger to the public is pretty moot. I've yet to hear of an offender successfully raping someone armed with a knife and a bottle of Viagra pills.

Prison sentences of any length in high-security jails are frequently de facto death sentences anyway, even in the UK, because of the increasing prevalence of HIV and the fact that prison rape is not just tolerated but seen as humorous just desserts even for minor white-collar offences (virtually every thread in any forum about a criminal will include some reference to 'sharing a cell with Bubba'). Not to mention the threat of insanity and/or suicide. As stupid as this was, if you get sent to jail then being misidentified as a sex offender and murdered upon release is the least of your worries.

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Unhappy

@Morley Dotes

"It's hard to find any moral outrage in the death of a rapist."

What about the murder of a rapist who wasn't raping anybody?

After what you just said, wouldn't it be ironic if you died from a database error yourself. Yes. It would be ironic.

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Oh, congratulations.

How jolly. Using the word "fingered" in the headline of an article covering the murder of someone convicted of molestation and rape of adults and unjustly accused of the same of children.

Because that's really something worth a lighthearted pun, no?

For fsck's sake, have some common decency - some taste, even. I thought the Reg was better than this.

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Life is not a Western

"It's hard to find any moral outrage in the death of a rapist."

At least two posters have taken this line - one said it, and another quoted it approvingly.

I strongly disagree. We should be morally upset about any murder. Firstly, because it is against the law. Secondly, because it is wrong for a private citizen to kill another private citizen - that is what the justice system is for.

It worries me that so many people who comment on threads like this seem to get their moral philosophy wholesale from the John Wayne school of movies. Some people are good (white hats, women, children, nice little Latino hoteliers, etc.) Other people are bad (big ranchers, politicians, lawyers unless they're Jimmy Stewart, and anyone ugly with a gun). All moral problems can be solved by having the good guys kill all the bad guys.

That was the movies - 1950s style. Real life is rather different.

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To all those people...

who seem to support the death of this guy and vigilante actions, how about you come round and live in my area. I have a nebour who's 6'6" 18 stone, an expert Kick boxer and holds a firearms licence.

Just don't drive to fast down my street, because if you risk our kids lives... Alot more kids die from being run over than are abused...

:-)

Think long and hard about that. I hope it changes your mind about the way you treat people.

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Mostly missing the point

I don't particularly care about a man being murdered in a far away land - didn't know him, probably wouldn't off liked him - thats not the point here.

The point is a man died at the hands of a scumbag because data integrity issues were not observed. I don't care if karma caught up with him.

The rabble should not be allowed access to this kind of information because the providers CANNOT get it right initially let alone keep it up to date.

For all the people dismissing this as someone getting what they deserve I wonder how you will feel when someone with the same name as you is publicly listed as a monster and your neighbour burns down your house

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No error in the database

I'm surprised that no-one has yet pointed out that there was no error in the database. The man's offences listed on the db included "oral copulation with a person under 14 or by force". Note, "or": EITHER the first thing OR the second thing. In fact his conviction was for the second thing.

Like the UK sex offenders register, the US version works according to a system of "seriousness" classifications, and in that system, consensual oral sex with a minor is classified at the same "seriousness" level as non-consensual oral sex with an adult. Hence the combined entry for the two.

So the database entry was entirely correct. The murderer clearly couldn't read properly, but that appears not to be an isolated issue...

Oh, and @ Jon Green, get over yourself. Moral outrage by proxy is one of humanity's most pointless endeavours.

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@ Duncan Hothersall

"Moral outrage by proxy?" *Snort*

No, disappointment at the Reg's taste bypass. Get over yourself, yourself.

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@Morely Dotes

So if rape is a crime that justifies murder after incarceration, what about murder? Should we kill this idiot because he's killed someone? Or is it OK as long as he didn't rape his victim (though in that case, he would be worse, since he raped AND killed)?

And, since he's already pissed in the gene pool, remove his mistake and off the kids?

What if he'd killed YOUR father because of mistaken identity?

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