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Eddie Dean’s cover story (“Alleged Killer, Proven Killer,” 11/22) lacked all journalistic integrity. His soap-box ranting, in the form of an ad hominem attack on Prince William County’s Paul Ebert, contained no substantive critique of his target, the death penalty. Dean needs to realize that his readers can form their own opinions of the facts given and do not need his subjective language to shove his point down their throats.

The main thrust of Dean’s article is directed toward Ebert’s prowess in the courtroom and his knack for successfully prosecuting capital cases. These attributes appear to Dean as barbaric blood lust. I, on the other hand, see them as a sign that the people of Prince William County elected themselves an able prosecutor willing to zealously represent the Commonwealth of Virginia. The fact that Ebert does not shy away from the death penalty demonstrates that he, admirably, will not question the law which he was elected to enforce.

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Dean’s weakest, and most irrelevant, argument is his attack on Ebert’s recreational activities. Weekend hunting excursions and choosing pointers over retrievers have little to do with the morality and legitimacy of the death penalty. Let us focus on one item of the liberal agenda at a time.

Dean rarely tries to take on the death penalty directly. The attempts he does make, though, are rationally incoherent let alone persuasive. He claims that in Prince William County “the Constitution must take a back seat to a hefty dose of Old Testament wrath.” His constitutional allusion lacks any sort of reasoning, though. In light of the lively debate on the issue, I hardly think the unconstitutionality of the death penalty is a foregone conclusion.

One of Dean’s other arguments refers to the sentiments of a Maryland resident who offered his opinion on the proper penalty for the sniper suspects. I agree that the vengeful narrative given is quite disturbing. What Dean fails to point out, though, is that this man will not be deciding the fate of the suspects. Our adversarial judicial system is, fortunately, designed to suppress such strong emotions and allow rational thought to control a suspect’s fate.

Whether or not vengeance is the cause for the persistence of the death penalty, the people of Virginia have approved it as a punishment. The issue is a question for legislative bodies to decide. Attacks on those who carry out those decisions are ineffective and misguided. Dean’s article has no value in the forum of public debate and only serves to perpetuate the screaming match, preventing rational discussion of the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the death penalty.

Dupont Circle