Last month, a Phenix City, Alabama jury convicted a man of murder in the shooting of a convenience store clerk during a robbery. The jury recommended life in prison.
What makes that particularly newsworthy, in my opinion, is that it was the second trial for Vernon Lamar Yancey. The first conviction and the accompanying death sentence were thrown out because there were no Blacks on the first jury. For those curious, Yancey, the victim, and the witness are all White.
Anyway, the murder was caught on videotape, including the victim calling the shooter by name prior to the gunshot. Regardless, the conviction was overturned and the death sentence thrown out.
What message was sent by that? That prosecutors need to be especially careful and consider the race of the jury, regardless of the race of the accused or the victim? That killers can use all sorts of legal tricks to avoid conviction, even when it's on tape and the victim identifies the killer? That store owners are at risk and that the legal system will fail them?
Yesterday, a Phenix City store owner shot and killed a would-be robber. Was the young man who was trying to rob the store thinking he'd get off light if he got caught? Was the store owner thinking he could be killed and the robber wasn't concerned about punishment?
To be honest, I have no idea what went through anybody's head. At present, no charges have been filed against the store owner. Neighbors speak highly of him.
One thing is certain. Robbers in Phenix City can't always avoid the death penalty. And no judge will overturn yesterday's.