Monday, April 4, 2011

Death Row Inmate Seeks Reprieve from Lethal Injection, Cites Objection to Drugs

SAN NARCISO, Calif. -- A former United States Army recruiter convicted of killing a woman nine years ago at Dodger Stadium is slated to be executed Tuesday, but his attorneys are now requesting an eleventh-hour reprieve, citing the inmate’s objection to drugs.

Levon Metzger, a senior attorney with the San Narciso-based law firm Warpe, Wistfull, Kubitschek and McMingus, said in a statement before the press this morning, “The prison system’s come under a lot of fire lately, but my client is proof that rehabilitation is possible. He’s been clean for over eight years, which is the direct result of the prison’s healthy living program. And now what does the state want to do? Pump him full of drugs. That’s what lethal injection is: a bunch of drugs. It’s hypocrisy at the highest level.”

The Crime
Clevis Restoff, 43, was convicted in 2004 of killing Marta Jimenez in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium following the team’s horrific defeat against the Cincinnati Reds.

In court, Restoff had unapologetically described the incident: “They [the Dodgers] brought in Gagne. That’s what we were reduced to. Well, nothing could save us from being swept. I was crushed and pissed off. Then, on the way back to my car, this bitch in a Reds jersey starts dissing the team. A bunch of locals jumped her and beat her face. At first, I got in the middle of it to pull them off, but then she started making fun of Tommy Lasorda. She said, ‘Lasorda’s management is a lot like holding a dove in your hand. No matter what you do, you end up with a bunch of crap. And a gay pigeon.’ I just lost control, and the other Dodger fans were cheering me on. Before I knew it, one of these gangsters handed me his piece. It was all over after that. But it was about respect and principles. I bleed Dodger Blue, man. And she bled Cincinnati Red. She got what she deserved.”

During the trial, defense attorneys attempted to mitigate the sentence by claiming that Restoff had suffered PTSD as a result of his experiences as a Desert Storm veteran. But Restoff’s commanding officers disputed the assertion.

Said Lt. Charles Emmerson, “The only desert Restoff saw was Nevada, where he was stationed. The only combat Restoff saw was fighting mountains of red tape to get recruiters onto college campuses. The only gun Restoff ever discharged was the staple gun he used to bind the candidate applications. This is a guy who spent most of his time harassing teens in Walmart parking lots, not gunning down marauding Iraqis in Kuwait. Had he not killed that woman, he would’ve ended up working a branch office for a temporary staffing agency, which most people would agree is worse than execution.”

Drugs a Problem for Restoff
After being arrested, Restoff tested positive for the psychostimulant Pervitin, a methamphetamine derivative. The drug was widely used by American, German, and Japanese soldiers during World War II.

“Since WWII, we only prescribed Pervitin to our recruiters,” said retired Major Stuyvesant “Stubbs” Merrill. “These boys and girls are up against some tough odds to make their quotas. They’re on-call 24/7, sending out job orders, reviewing resumes, cold calling prospects, all that stuff. The only way they can meet recruitment numbers and stay aggressive enough to pressure high school graduates into military careers is through amphetamines. It’s not unusual. Private staffing companies do the same -- force their employees to take meth. Ever wonder why workers at temp agencies seem stupider than the temps?”

Restoff’s admission of drug use did little to lessen the severity of the jury’s verdict. His unrepentant attitude and the lack of evidence to support PTSD ultimately doomed him to a death sentence for the homicide.

But Restoff said in court today that prison was the best thing that had ever happened to him.

“Once inside, I became attached to the prison chaplain,” Restoff explained from the kitchen where he works as a cook. “He helped me find God and kick the drugs. I don’t disagree with my sentence. I should pay for my crimes, and I hope that God will forgive me. But I ain’t facing my final judgment doped up. I spent almost a decade getting clean.”

To illustrate his abhorrence of narcotics, Restoff cracked an egg on the kitchen’s expansive griddle.

“This is your brain,” Restoff indicated with his spatula.

“And this is your brain on drugs,” he said, hacking the burning egg into an indistinguishable goo and flinging the mess all over the kitchen. Restoff then kicked in the oven door, broke several pots and pans, and flung himself violently onto a sack of potatoes, beating it until his fists bled. He was restrained by guards before concluding his demonstration.

Attorneys Seek Reprieve
According to Levon Metzger, the lawyer representing Restoff, the issues with drugs and lethal injection are numerous and complex.

“First off, we have a logistical problem that has evolved into a procedural problem,” Metzger said. “There’s a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental, one of the three drugs needed in the lethal injection process. Texas, the country’s leader in executions, has used it all up. And do they have it down to a science there. It’s amazing to watch, like an assembly line in a slaughterhouse. Imagine Henry Ford designing Dachau for Hitler. Uber efficient. But the pharmaceutical companies can’t keep up with the demand. Part of the problem is that Texas, unlike many places, is allowed to execute the retarded. And there are a lot of retarded people in Texas.”

The shortage in sodium thiopental, however, has vexed numerous other states with death row inmates. To compensate for the loss and keep the process running, authorities have begun substituting pentobarbital, a sedative used to euthanize animals. But Metzger argues that California failed to obtain a valid federal permit to purchase its supply of pentobarbital, which is an important consideration in his case for Restoff’s reprieve.

“This is how the legal system works,” Metzger said. “More than an adversarial process, it’s a bureaucratic dance. In the end, guilt and innocence are just political determinations. Nothing goes anywhere if the proper protocols aren’t followed. Bungled paperwork is a better defense than the prosecution’s most unreliable witness, honestly.”

But it is Restoff’s anti-drug message that Metzger hopes to exploit as the primary driver for his case.

“I think it’s funny when I hear American politicians talk about a war on drugs. You know what that means? There’s a war, and the people on drugs are winning. Well, we don’t want to let them win. We’re patriots, and Mr. Restoff is a veteran. He loves baseball and the apple pies they bring in from McDonald’s. He’s served his country, if not represented it very well. The fact remains, we spend billions each year fighting drugs. And my firm is prepared to fight them to the death.”

Metzger also clarified that the intent of the appeal was not to free or exonerate Clevis Restoff.

“He wants to accept his punishment. We don’t dispute that. We don’t even have a problem with the execution. It’s just the method. Clevis will not meet his maker as a junkie. We have instead requested a firing squad. This country should not stand for drugs, but it does stand for personal choice and individual freedoms. One of those freedoms, one of the most important, is the right to bear arms. We’re a nation founded on guns. It seems only fitting that a veteran and patriot go out in a hail of freedom-loving bullets, and not as a drug-addled sinner in opposition with American morals or values.”

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