Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Justice for Jason Byrns (Who Tried to Kill Jamie Lawson)

Not exactly news any more, but since overseas readers didn't see it in the newspaper, this web site officially reacts to the last installment in the Jamie Lawson story.

On June 21, the Kingsport Times-News' front-page report of Jason Byrns' trial might have been intended to provoke reactions: "A Tennessee man...failed to have his sentence reduced Friday during a hearing in Scott County (Virginia) court. Jason T. Byrns, 33, of Kingsport, appeared in court after filing a motion to have his 60-year prison sentence reduced on the grounds the punishment was too harsh."

Well, just for the exercise, we could try it the other way round. "Hypothetical J. Doe, of Gate City (Virginia), appeared in the Kingsport court..." Or "H.J. Doe, of Gate City, appeared in the Scott County court..." Or "H.J. Doe, of Kingsport, appeared in the Kingsport court..." Or whatever jurisdictions you care to name. This web site maintains that Byrns was stupid even to bother filing the motion.

We are talking about a drug dealer who was apparently trying to evade arrest, conviction, and most likely a fine and a week or a month in jail when he crossed the Virginia line and found a police roadblock waiting for him there. Apparently guided by some sort of inner demons, Byrns stomped the gas pedal and roared into Scott County as fast as his vehicle would go, deliberately swerving to intimidate pedestrians, fellow motorists, and five other traffic officers. State Trooper Jamie Lawson had been assigned the duty of stopping Byrns, and Byrns rammed Lawson's police car seven times, at speeds estimated to be between 50 and 70 miles per hour (in a residential neighborhood), before he finally shoved the police car into another vehicle parked beside the road. Lawson spent weeks in an expensive specialized hospital unit; the partial disability resulting from damage to his spine is expected to be permanent.

Too harsh, he whined? I know a few Kingsport men who might be persuaded to teach Byrns what "harsh" means...There is no serious dispute that anyone who would rather commit murder than pay a fine should be kept off the streets for as long as there is any chance of his attempting to operate a motor vehicle. Sixty years, starting from age 33, sounds about right. The question is whether the taxpayers can reasonably be asked to feed something like Byrns for sixty years.

On the purely theoretical assumption that, although the Times-News hasn't mentioned it, Byrns may have a relative somewhere who is praying that Byrns may be capable of some sort of spiritual experience, revival, rehabilitation, the development of a human mind that understands why it's better to spend a few weeks in jail than it is to commit murder, the law does require the taxpayers of Virginia to feed Jason Byrns for up to sixty years. There might be some reasonable debate about whether that is "too harsh."

Jamie Lawson was trying to protect people from a homicidal maniac, and he may never "walk free" from pain again. If Jason Byrns never walks out from behind the razor-wire fence again, it appears to me that, to the extent that humans are capable of doing justice, justice has been done.