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Ethical Issue Case Studies: Capital Punishment
Case Study #1: Lesley Gosch
On 18th September 1985, Frank Patton received a phone call from his wife whilst he was
at work, but she handed the phone over to an unknown male who informed Mr Patton
that he needed to gather cash in $50 and $100 bills in a briefcase within forty minutes
before transporting the briefcase to a local food court.
After hanging up, Patton directed someone to begin collecting the money and then
contacted the FBI. However, when the police arrived at the Patton household, Rebecca
Patton was lying dead on the floor after a fatal gunshot to the head.
After the appeal for information in exchange for a $100,000 reward, Stephen Hurst came
forward and revealed that John Rogers (Gosch's accomplice) admitted that `Gosch
emptied a clip into her [Rebecca Patton].
At trial, Rogers revealed that it was Gosch who entered the Patton household and shot
Mrs Patton in an attempt to fund an escape to Belize. Gosch already had previous
convictions and charges.
The jury returned a verdict of guilty against Mr Gosch. They found that he acted
deliberately and was therefore represented a future danger to society. The court
sentenced him to death.
Mrs Patton's daughter spoke out about Gosch's death penalty and remarked that it was
not about revenge, but justice. `This man took a life. He took a lot of things. My mum
was a lot of things to a lot of people. He took her away from a lot of people and left a
big hole in a lot of people's lives, as well as depriving her of the pleasure of living."
However, there is doubt that the defence successfully represented Mr Gosch. He was
legally blind, and his hands were severely damaged, therefore it was highly unlikely that
he would have been able to bind/retrain Mrs Patton and brandish a weapon
simultaneously. But the defence didn't present any of this evidence, which raises the
question as to whether the right man was sentenced to death.
Case Study #2: Kenneth Junior French
In North Carolina on August 6th 1993, Kenneth Junior French opened fire on a
supermarket and restaurant with a pump shotgun and witnesses suspected he was
He walked through the restaurant and randomly killed four people, and injured several
others. When people asked for mercy, he shot them straight in the face.
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An off-duty police officer heard the shots and entered the restaurant. After calling for
back up, he shot the man brandishing the gun and after back up arrived, they managed to
arrest him (after shooting him to restrain him) before he was taken to hospital for
French was charged with four counts of first degree murder as well as several other