I am deeply worried about Michael George (R) being elected to one of the three vacancies on the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. I write as a victim of a violent crime in Adams County, Pa., that occurred in May 1988.
Mr. George was the court-appointed attorney for the defendant (Stephen Roy Carr), who faced charges of murder and attempted murder. Mr. Carr opened fire on my girlfriend and me while he was hidden in the woods. He was a stranger, with whom we had no connection. Very unfortunately, Mr. Carr witnessed our affection while we believed ourselves to be completely alone. Later in the day, after he stalked us, hunted us and spied on us, he loaded, fired and unloaded his single-bolt action 22 rifle eight times while hiding 85 feet away in the woods. He killed Rebecca Wight. I survived five bullets and hiked 3.7 miles from the remote campsite.
Stephen Roy Carr was convicted of first-degree murder. The case was clear-cut. When captured, Mr. Carr took the police to his gun, hidden under a stump in the woods. The ballistics matched the bullet lodged in Rebecca’s torso. He claimed he mistook my screams for animal cries. When he was told I lived, he cried. He left items and ammunition in his haste to get away. He was picked from the police lineup. He told a boy he had done a terrible thing. Rarely is a case so clear-cut.
Michael George had a job to do to defend his client, who was so clearly guilty and facing a possible capital sentence.
Mr. George argued provocation. While this clearly was legal folly, Mr. George sought to distract from the murder his client had committed and place emphasis instead on our sexuality. Mr. George was unsuccessful in his motion but his efforts did produce sensational headlines. During the discovery hearing, questioning and insinuations by Mr. George only added to my anguish and ultimately did nothing to further his client’s case. Mr. Carr was convicted of first-degree murder in an adjudicated plea agreement. He was not sentenced to die but received a life sentence with no possibility of parole.
Perhaps Mr. George believed by exploiting antigay sentiments and voyeurism, he avoided a capital sentence for his client. While that is a disturbing path to “success,” one might see the tactic as a necessary exploit by a defense attorney who thinks his client may receive the death sentence.
Even if one accepted that premise, it is even more troubling that many years later, Mr. George’s published comments continued to imply his client was provoked and experienced homosexual panic. Is Mr. George confused about his client’s guilt? Really? Does Mr. George believe his tactics to blame the victim and [use] inflammatory antigay positions will further his political ambitions?
I worry about Mr. George’s judgment and his history of inflammatory exploitation. I worry about the victims in cases Mr. George might decide.
It is my hope that these words will encourage Pennsylvania voters to think carefully about the state Supreme Court candidates. Vote for other candidates and do not elect Michael George to any of the three vacancies on the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court.
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