Justin Thurber

I have often said that I am neither an advocate for or against the death penalty. I do not believe that the death penalty is a deterrent for anyone. I have also said however, there are some crimes that are so heinous and vicious, and that have proven 100% who the perpetrator is, that deserve the death penalty.  That being said I also know that a capital case is much more expensive for a state. There are extra funds associated with those who ask for a public defender, which is a large percentage of cases.  Then, if the prosecution succeeds there are automatic appeals that last years, sometimes decades and again, the state is paying.  I understand all of this.  What I do not understand is why the state of Kansas continues to prosecute cases asking for the death penalty when they have not executed anyone since 1965.  

We all know that the federal government abolished the death penalty in the early 1970's as unconstitutional.  Since about the mid-1970s many states reinstated the death penalty and while I admit that not all did in fact reinstate it, as well as some states have issues pertaining to their death penalty laws in the courts now that are slowing down and/or preventing them from taking place, most of this does not pertain to Kansas.  Kansas did reinstate the death penalty in 1994, which was several years after most of the other states who had done the same.  This means that starting in that year they were able to seek the ultimate punishment for crimes they deemed appropriate.  But again, they have not executed anyone since 1965.  In 2016 it was reported that even though they have the law, there are no plans on how to even use it.  So again, I am confused on why the tax payers of Kansas have allowed prosecutors to continue obviously wasting their money on this.  Of of late 2016 there were ten people sitting on Kansas death row, including Justin Thurber.

Justin Thurber was sentenced to death in March of 2009 in the death of nineteen year old Jodi Sanderholm.  My research stated that Justin worked at the Arkansas City, Kansas Subway restaurant but that on January 5, 2007 he was not working.  My research also indicates that Jodi may have also worked there but at the very least she was last seen alive leaving the Subway store.

Prosecutors believe that Justin, who apparently had a habit of stalking young women, had followed Jodi home and that it was there that he forced her into her car and drove to a rural area where he strangled, beat, raped and murdered her. He then disposed of her car in a fishing lake some eight miles away.

Within a few days of her disappearance Justin was arrested on charges unrelated to Jodi's disappearance.  Despite massive searches from the start, after a few days, she, nor her car had been found.  On January 9th Texas EquuSearch got involved.  If you do not know who they are, check them out. The owner of the business lost his daughter in a murder and he created this company who go all over the country helping to find missing persons.  They have been in my area and have been involved in several high profile cases. Using sonar equipment, EquuSearch quickly found Jodi's car submerged in the fishing lake.  In that search clothing belonging to Jodi was also found.  Her body would be found sometime later that day or the following day.

I have to be honest that I went through pages and pages of information and much like another case I did today I found little on specifics brought up at trial. I found a very small reference saying that Thurber's DNA was found on some evidence but to be truthful I do not know much more about it.  It was also reported that apparently on the day she went missing that Thurber's father had supposedly picked him up from the area of the fishing lake and that he was wet and muddy, but again, I am short on specifics here.

Thurber's defense argued that he suffered from bipolar disorder and had a low IQ.  I am going to assume that it was at about 80 or just under as they made a statement that if it was ten points lower the state would not be allowed to even seek the death penalty.  The federal government has stated that states cannot execute someone who has an IQ below 70, hence where I came up with the 80. 

In 2016 a group called Kansans for Justice were running a campaign of sorts to have four or five judges on the Kansas Supreme Court replaced through election.  Jodi Sanderholm's parents joined this fight.  The argument was that several of these judges had overturned death penalty cases and family members of victims were upset.  Thurbers case was still in the appeals stages but the Sanderholm's joined the fight in hopes of not having to worry of a reversal in his case.  I cannot speak for the cases that were overturned as I do not know the specifics of them and on what grounds they were overturned and I feel for these families, but I do not think is where their fight should be.  I would think they should be less concerned with the death penalty cases that are getting overturned, and more than likely handing out life sentences, than if they are proponents of the death penalty why that is not being acted upon.  Reality is that until they start enforcing the death penalty these people on death row are serving life sentences anyway.  Their tax dollars go to support everyone of the appeals that are filed whether it is paying for a defense attorney, or the prosecutor or the judges who have to take the time to hear the cases.  They are hearing cases that at this point will never see the inside of an execution chamber.   

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