Friday, October 24, 2008

Suicide by Court

The crime was unspeakable. Marco Allen Chapman murdered two children, left a third child for dead, and raped and stabbed the mother of the victims. There is no doubt about his guilt. He wants to die for his crimes and may get his wish. Some people call it “suicide by court.” Others call it justice.

At 4:40 a.m., on August 23, 2002, Marco Chapman knocked on the door of the home of Chuck and Carolyn Marksberry. Chuck was away on business. When Carolyn opened the door, Chapman attacked her. Marksberry, the city clerk of Warsaw, Kentucky, had counseled Chapman’s abused girlfriend, advising her to leave him. The ex-con, who had recently been released from prison, wanted revenge.

An article in the Cincinnati Inquirer explains what happened next. “Once inside the house...Mr. Chapman punched Mrs. Marksberry in the stomach, held a knife to her throat and robbed her of $ 120. Then Mr. Chapman took Mrs. Marksberry to the master bedroom where he restrained her with duct tape and a vacuum cleaner cord before sexually assaulting her.”

When Marksberry’s cries brought her daughters, Courtney, 10, Chelbi, 7, and her son, Cody, 6, to her aid, the assailant turned his attentions to them. He stabbed each child numerous times, and ended the attacks by slitting their throats. Chelbi and Cody bled to death at the scene.

Courtney played dead until Chapman left the room. Then she sprinted to a neighbor’s house to get help. When Chapman heard the outside door slam, he fled. After her assailant left, Carolyn was finally able to break free of her restraints. Bleeding, and with her arms still bound, she crawled over her son’s dead body and ran to safety.

A few hours later, police arrested Chapman in West Virginia. He readily admitted his crimes and asked to die.

Courtney had minor wounds, but her mother hovered between life and death for days. “Her wounds were deep,” Sandra Miller, a University of Cincinnati surgeon, said. “[There were] cuts to her neck and trachea. She had a collapsed lung due to a stab wound to the chest, but the lung has re-expanded now...” There was also “eye trauma.”

From the beginning, Chapman has requested execution. "My life has never really been worth much," he said. "It will never be worthy of the children, but I give it freely to them." He pled guilty to the assaults, robbery, and murders and a judge granted him his wish. Chapman has been on death row since 2004.

Chapman isn’t the only murderer to request execution. In fact, experts say about 11% of inmates who have been executed were willing participants in their own deaths.

While those who favor the death penalty call it justice, opponents say the inmates are mentally ill and call their executions “suicide by court.” Chapman, however, denies this. “I guess it’s kind of my Christian upbringing,” he said. “Suicide is unforgivable. I figure if I’m not doing it to myself, it’s not suicide.”

The real victims in this tragedy are the children who had their lives snuffed out and the living victims who must now suffer the nightmares and remember the dead. After Courtney was attacked, she watched in horror as Chapman knifed Cody.

Courtney recalled what happened after Chapman left the room: “I grabbed my brother’s hand and I said, ‘I gotta go get help.’ He said, ‘No, don’t leave me.’ And I said, ‘I’ll be there in a minute. I’ll be back.’”

Carolyn, in an interview with Primetime, said: “I was terrified, absolutely terrified...[Courtney] keeps me busy. If it weren’t for her, I don’t know that I would get up in the morning. She’s my hero.”

The state of Kentucky has set Marco Allen Chapman’s execution date for November 21, 2008.

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