Today I am turning my blog over to friend and neighbor Debbie Borman, a law professor at Northwestern University. She has something very interesting to say about sociopathy--stemming from the case of the Boston Marathon bomber, as well as the just sentenced Chicago-area murderers in Bali. Since we host the marathon in the South Loop every October, and since I mentioned the word "sociopathic" in my post yesterday, I thought Debbie's piece would fit nicely this morning as a guest post.
Sociopaths and the Sentencing Phase
by Debbie Borman
The news reports regarding the sentencing phase of the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are now focused on Tsarnaev’s demeanor. As the prosecutors present victim-impact testimony, reports focus on Tsarnaev’s lack of demonstration of remorse, about how he is stoic and expressionless and lacking in emotion. Tsarnaev committed a horrible crime and he should receive the worst kind of sentence, either the death penalty for those who believe that is appropriate within the statutory possibility, or life in prison, so he can live out a miserable life behind bars.
The accused shows no emotion, no remorse. He is a sociopath with no empathy.
But there is a worse kind of sociopath, the sociopath who lacks empathy, but is so charming he shows artificial remorse and convinces the world that the opposite is true.
Consider the sentencing yesterday of Tommy Schaefer, the 21-year old 50% responsible for the bludgeoning death of Sheila von Wiese-Mack. Schaefer and his complicit girlfriend, Weise-Mack’s daughter Heather Mack, repeatedly struck Wiese-Mack in the head, and then stuffed Ms. Wiese-Mack’s body in a suitcase and left it in the trunk of a cab in Bali. Schaefer was spared the death penalty in an Indonesian court and sentenced to a mere 18-years imprisonment, because of his artificial tears and phony demeanor: "Presiding Judge Made Suweda described his crime as ‘sadistic’ but said the defendant's politeness and expression of remorse during the trial warranted that the Oak Park resident be spared a harsher sentence," according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.
Heather Mack was an only child and sole beneficiary of a $1.56 million trust fund.
Which sociopath is worse for our society--the sociopath who makes no mystery of the fact of his contempt for human life? Who kills and runs and hides in boat the way a cat hides under the couch with his tail sticking out? Or the charmer-murderer, who tells you that he loves you because he wants your money, and then convinces you to, and helps you kill your mother?
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