by Robert A. Waters
It has long been my opinion that capital punishment is a social contract between a nation’s populace and government. Throughout much of history, families of murder victims took their own revenge. When civilized societies formed, governments took the role of avenger. Today it’s called justice, but it’s the same thing. When states do not administer justice, what recourse do families have? Recently, Kermit Alexander, a former NFL star, sued the state of California, demanding that his mother’s killer be executed. This lawsuit is long overdue.
At 5:30 A.M., on August 31, 1984, Ebora Alexander, still wearing her nightgown and slippers, was making coffee in her kitchen. Within seconds, she lay dead. Ebora had been shot three times in the head.
Her daughter, Dietra, 23, screamed when she heard the commotion. Ebora’s killer then ran into her bedroom and shot her between the eyes.
Two of Ebora’s grandchildren, Damon Bonner, 8, and Damani Garner, 10, died in their beds, brutally slaughtered by the same gunman.
The murdered members of the family were innocent victims of a botched hit—the killers had mistaken Ebora’s home for that of their intended target.
Ebora Alexander lived in Watts, always a powder-keg ruled by drugs and gangs. Her son, Kermit Alexander, who had played for ten years in the NFL, begged her to move out. But Ebora wanted to be near her friends, so she remained in her long-time home.
Kermit’s first impulse was to find the murderers and kill them. He bought a gun and, like the police, searched for the killers. NBC News reported that “the ex-athlete—who was a first-round draft pick in 1963 and spent 10 years in the pros—says the only reason he didn’t become a killer himself is because then-Mayor Tom Bradley made him promise to give up his hunt and let the legal process run its course.”
When the shooter, Tiequon Cox, a member of the Rollin 60 Crips Gang, was identified by police, Alexander assumed that justice would be served. Cox was tried and convicted, and sentenced to death. His cohort, who did not pull the trigger, received a life sentence.
For 31 years, Alexander has waited. “It galls me,” he said. “The people of California have said over and over again that they want this kind of punishment for the worst criminals.”
Two years ago, Kermit wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle that “on Aug. 31, 1984, Cox murdered my mother, sister and two nephews during an early morning home invasion. Cox, a for-hire killer, went to the wrong address and mistakenly killed my family—four acts of murder committed on an innocent family in exchange for $3,500.
“In the past 29 years, I have missed my mother every day. Yet my family’s murderer continues to live, even though the jury found him guilty and then unanimously recommended the death penalty.”
I’d like to see a parade of other families of victims join Aexander’s lawsuit. Maybe that would convince California’s anti-capital punishment governor, Jerry Brown, that justice should finally be served.