Friday, September 26, 2008

Questions linger in Philly cop-killing

Turns out we’re not the only one who was wondering exactly what cop-killer Daniel Giddings was doing out on the street.

Gov. Ed Rendell also has some questions.

Specifically, the governor is wondering pretty much the same thing that I’ve been puzzling over. How exactly did the state Board of Probation and Parole reach the decision that Giddings, a career criminal whose first brush with the law occurred at age 10 and who had a laundry list of violations behind bars while doing time for an assault, should be turned back out onto the streets?

Bottom line? Giddings had done 10 years of a 12-year stint. The general belief is that there is a push to get people out of jail and back into society.

But some people don’t seem like especially good candidates for an early release. And Giddings would appear to be the poster candidate for just the kind of person we want to keep locked away.

In the meantime, Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham, the “Tough Cookie” herself, is pointing fingers in another direction.

Abraham was joined by state Attorney General Tom Corbett yesterday in criticizing the sentence handed down by the trial judge in Giddings’ conviction in a 2000 armed carjacking case.

The crime-fighting duo had harsh words for Common Pleas Court Judge Lynn Bennett Hamlin. Instead of the six-to-12-year sentence Hamlin handed down, Abraham believes a 22-to-40-year stint would have been more appropriate, especially in light of the prosecutor’s argument of Giddings’ long and violent criminal history.

None of which is going to change the funeral plans for Officer Patrick McDonald, scheduled to take place on Monday and Tuesday.

It’s become a sad and too familiar routine. The long line of men and women in blue saluting another flag-drapped casket. They have already performed this solemn duty three times in the past year.

And this one final item also guaranteed to turn your stomach. Charges are now pending in connection with the gun Giddings used to kill Officer McDonald and wound another highway patrolman.

A 29-year-old man from South Carolina will be charged in what appears to be a classic “straw purchase” of a firearm. Jason Mack is believed to have lied on the federal form needed to purchase the gun.

Mack claimed the gun was stolen.

Somehow, Giddings wound up back on the street. And somehow that gun also wound up in Philadelphia, in Giddings’ cold, murderous hands.

And now the city is preparing to say a sad farewell to another officer as a result.

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