By Betty Roccograndi
Let’s just put George Banks out on work release already and call it a day.
Last year, convicted mass murderer Banks dodged yet another bullet when, after much suspense, he was declared too mentally ill to be executed.
Of course, that determination could have been made 27 years ago when he gunned down 13 people, including five of his children, the women who bore them and an innocent passer-by.
A third competency hearing is underway because former Luzerne County judge, Michael Conahan, now a self-admitted racketeer, had taken the easy way out last year and simply signed off on all the arguments Banks’ attorneys presented that he was too delusional to understand that he faced death for slaughtering his families.
The state Supreme Court ordered another competency hearing for Banks, rejecting Conahan’s copy cat opinion that there was overwhelming evidence to show that he was incompetent.
There is also overwhelming evidence that two decades of appeals was a colossal waste of time and money.
This isn’t a case where the wrong man may have been charged and sentenced to death for killing 13 people. Then, it might be easier to understand the prolonged fight to keep him alive. No, this man is guilty, and no one disputes that. He got the sentence that a jury more than two decades ago decided he deserved.
But lucky for Banks, the law says that his mental state when he stormed Schoolhouse Lane in Wilkes-Barre and a dwelling in Jenkins Township toting an assault rifle is irrelevant here. Now that he’s facing punishment for his murderous rampage, it’s his current state of mind that counts.
And his current state of mind is telling him that the justice system should back off because he spoke to God, and God told him He needs him on earth. Also, Banks contends, former President George W. Bush vacated his sentence. Now, we all know that Bush would never do such a thing – Obama maybe, but certainly not Bush.
So, Banks doesn’t understand why he was sentenced to die for killing his multiple families?
You can bet that those five terrified children didn’t understand back in 1982 why they were being slaughtered one by one – by their father.
And you can bet that the innocent mothers of those children didn’t understand why they had to die. Only they didn’t have to die.
Neither did the ill-fated passer-by, Ray Hall. Following Conahan’s ruling last year, Ray Hall Sr., the young man’s 82-year-old father, expressed frustration that a vigorous fight is still being waged on behalf of the cold-blooded killer who blew away his son.
So the case drags on.
In Pennsylvania, the death penalty is legal. It should either be abolished or allowed to be implemented when justified. If it’s not justified when someone kills 13 people, including one’s children, then, really, what’s the point of having it on the books?
This case proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the wheels of justice do indeed turn slowly. It’s time to grind them to a halt, declare Banks’ tenacious attorney, Al Flora Jr., and his team the winners and not spend one more dime taking this case any further.
Justice has not been served. After 27 years, it’s probably time to move on.