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Friday, September 10, 2010

Humans and subhumans

(Cal Coburn Brown)

Brown, 52, had protested sentencing disparities, saying that criminals who had killed many more people, such as Green River killer Gary Ridgway, were serving life sentences while he received a death sentence.

"I only killed one victim," he said. "I cannot really see that there is true justice. Hopefully, sometime in the future that gets straightened out."

Brown did not apologize to the family of the victim, but said he understood their emnity for him. He said he forgave that hatred, held no emnity toward them and hoped the execution would give them closure. He also said the prison staff had been most professional and that he had no complaints about his treatment there in 17 years.

Brown confessed to killing the 21-year-old Washa during an interrogation in California for an alleged assault on a woman there. He later led authorities to Washa's battered body, which was inside the trunk of a car.

He met Washa near Sea-Tac airport in Washington when he helpfully pointed to Washa's rear tire, indicating a problem. When she stopped to check it out, he carjacked her at knifepoint. For the next 36 hours, Brown robbed, raped and tortured Washa, before stabbing and strangling her.

"His demeanor — that's what struck us. And his lack of remorse," said Lt. Al Franz of the Palm Springs police department, one of the investigators who first interviewed Brown in California. "This is a violent individual, and he was just very, very calm while he was telling his story," Franz said. "The lack of remorse was pretty incredible to me. The way he spoke about his victims, they weren't people to him."

Brown, who is from San Jose, Calif., had a history of violence against women, including a 1977 conviction in California for assaulting a woman with a knife at a shopping center. He also served 7 1/2 years — the minimum sentence — for assaulting another woman in Oregon in 1984.

It's no surprise when a murderer turns out to be a sociopath. But there are still lessons to be learned here. First, note the always present self pity in a sociopath's psyche: "I only killed one victim. I cannot see that there is true justice." He assaulted two other women, and tortured Washa before he murdered her. His execution won't really offend most people's sense of justice.

Brown said he "forgave" the family of the victim for hating him, and felt no emnity towards them. But who does he think he's fooling, exhibiting such "compassion"? Where was his compassion for his victim? Sociopaths always think they can fool everybody, especially with their false emotions.

The other lesson here is his preternatural calmness. Lt. Franz of the Palm Springs Police Department put his finger right on the heart of sociopathy: "The way he spoke about his victims, they weren't people to him."

To put yourself in the mindset of a sociopath, you have to imagine yourself as the only human being in a world populated by robots. If you break a robot while using it, you just get another one. So it is with sociopaths and people.

It's not that shocking that serial killers feel that way -- after all, they are serial killers. The thing to remember is that all sociopaths feel that way, even if they aren't serial killers. Sociopaths are somewhere between 2 and 3 percent of the population, and you find them in all walks of life, both sexes, all races. (And most of them don't kill.) So when you meet someone new, you shouldn't be quick to assume that he's just like you.

If he's a sociopath, he certainly doesn't feel that way about you. To him, you're basically just a robot.

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