Charles Frederick Collins, Life In Prison…Fair?
A WHKP Station Editorial
May 14, 2009
When the prosecutor, and the Court, agreed this week to let Charles Frederick Collins plead guilty to two counts of first degree murder and spend, THEY said, the rest of his life in prison for the late night home invasion and bludgeoning deaths of Connie and Ricky Sparks, justice was NOT served and our community and all of society is LESS safe because of it.
When two of our community’s most vulnerable people….one old, the other mentally challenged…have the sanctity and security of their home invaded in the middle of the night and are then brutally beaten to death with a shovel by two doped up, evil, or crazed, or just plain gutter-trash thugs…it does NOT equal “life in prison” for one defendant…whether he actually swung the shovel or not. The law says just being there and being part of such a heinous crime means equal guilt all the way around…it’s called North Carolina’s felony-murder rule. As far as we’re concerned, that weak-kneed acceptance of a guilty plea, with the promise of life behind bars, is NOT what a blind “Lady Justice” is or should be all about.
When Henderson County’s FIRST courthouse was built more than a century and a half ago, it stood a few blocks southwest of where the current Historic Courthouse is on Main Street…and historian Sadie Smathers Patton wrote that a gallows and a whipping post stood outside that first courthouse: the whipping post was for thieves; the gallows was for rapists and killers. Folks…somewhere in the course in that last 150 or so years, our so-called “enlightened and civilized” society, and the prosecutors and judges we trust to protect us, have LOST any sense of real justice.
The defendant allowed to plead guilty in the Sparks homicide case, then to live his life as a guest of the State, had a criminal history BEFORE he and his partner took the lives of Connie and Ricky Sparks…and he was a “criminal” even while behind bars IN JAIL awaiting trial, charged with possessing a razor blade or a shank and a handmade club, while behind bars, IN JAIL! And we’ve all heard that promise of “life in prison” with “no chance for parole” before. Let a few years of alleged good behavior pass, with some over-flowing prisons and the State short on money…and ANY criminal can be back on the street.
The fact is, in some cases, remorse isn’t enough…and it sure isn’t justice. Tear-filled apologies, family pleas in the courtroom, and begs for forgiveness don’t MAKE RIGHT the horror and life-ending brutality that was done to Connie and Ricky Sparks. Nor do two life sentences.
One of the most fearful prospects any of us face…is the invasion of our homes. That’s the one place where most of us feel safe and secure…and to have our homes invaded and the lives of loved ones brutally and horribly taken this way is as bad as it gets.
When we heard this “guilty plea, life sentence” deal announced…we wondered…what signal does this send to the family of a decent man like Poochie Corn…whose home was also invaded, and whose life was also taken by cold-blooded, murdering thugs…killers and home invaders who will likely be JUST as apologetic, just as remorseful, probably accompanied by family, and shedding all the same tears on THEIR day in court.
For the protection of our community and of society, the law and the courts HAVE to stop this. Or make their best efforts to. What happened in the Sparks homicide, Charles Collins deal makes us LONG for the gallows and the whipping post AGAIN outside our Henderson County Courthouse…underneath the unbending fairness and scrutiny of “Lady Justice”.
Folks…we’d better DEMAND this type of justice, swift and sure, AND fair from our lawmakers, judges, and prosecutors BEFORE it happens to any of us…and as we’ve seen with the Sparks, and the Corns, and with way too many others…it CAN happen and does…swiftly, brutally, fatally…and with no REAL justice in the end. WHKP invites your comments...on our comments.
By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman