The Associated Press reports that the Louisiana Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Patrick Kennedy, a convicted child rapist from Harvey, Louisiana, according to Louisiana news station KATC. Harvey was convicted of aggravated rape of an eight year old girl in 2003 and was sentenced to death. According to CNN, Kennedy raped his young relative as she was in the garage sorting Girl Scout Cookies. The victim required surgery due to the brutal nature of the attack. Deputies claim that Kennedy later bragged of the crime.
According to CNN, Kennedy’s lawyers claimed that tests on blood evidence were inconclusive, and that the victim changed her story, not naming Kennedy as her attacker until almost two years after the rape.
Kennedy’s lawyers have argued that the death penalty in non-homicide cases is in violation of the U.S. Constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that the death penalty in cases of adult rape is unconstitutional, but the Louisiana Supreme Court says that the impact of the U.S. Court’s ruling on child rape cases is unclear. In Louisiana, aggravated rape of a person under 12 years old is punishable by death. If Kennedy is put to death for his crime, he will be the first person executed for rape since 1964, reported the New York Times and the only person executed for rape since the the 1976 reinstatement of the death penalty. Before the 1972 death penalty suspension, the United States government and 16 states had approved the death penalty for rapes.
“Our state Legislature and this court have determined this category of aggravated rapist to be among those deserving of the death penalty, and, short of a first-degree murderer, we can think of no other non-homicide crime more deserving,” said Justice Jeffery Victory, as reported by CNN. The law permitting the death penalty for child rape cases was passed by the Louisiana Legislature in 1995.
Louisiana joins Georgia, Florida, Montana, South Carolina and Oklahoma as the only states that allow capital punishment in cases of child rape. The Texas legislature recently passed legislation that would make child rape a crime punishable by the death penalty in that state as well. It is currently awaiting the governor’s signature, according to CNN.
Kennedy’s lawyers have promised to take the case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Kennedy is currently the only man on death row convicted of a non-homicide.
Source: KATC- Louisiana death penalty for child rapists upheld (Associated Press)
CNN-Court upholds death sentence for child rape (Associated Press)
Adam Liptak Louisiana Court Backs Death in Child Rape New York Times