originally by: Sentencing Law and Policy
29th May 2011
We don’t know if the recently executed child rapist and killer Donald Beaty had the genetic defect that scientists call the “murder gene.” I’m pretty sure we didn’t want to know. We wanted him dead. Just as we wanted the murderer Jeffrey Landrigan executed last October, although Landrigan’s attorneys claimed he might have possessed the gene, which is believed to create a predisposition to violence when linked with other factors.
But the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Landrigan had waived his right to raise that issue, and there was no reprieve coming from the governor.
“In this area the science appears to be going one way and the politics another,” said Gary E. Marchant, executive director of the Center for Law, Science & Innovations at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Marchant has a law degree from Harvard and a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of British Columbia.
He recently hosted a conference at ASU that dealt with advances in neuroscience and genetics and how they help to explain criminal behavior. “Right now, politics is winning out in this discussion,” Marchant said. “But at some point it will become impossible to deny the science. There will be so much evidence.”