The trial of Allen Tehrankari is over and actually has been for some time but I delayed this post to ensure that I wasn’t posting something that the courts might object to. Tehrankari was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole for 25 years for the first-degree murder of 46-year-old Barbara Galway, whose body was found in January 2005 near Mer Bleue, a popular nature trail in Ottawa’s east end. I was called to be a juror in this trial and during selection I had to answer one question from the defence. Before I went in to answer the question I kept thinking that until I have any other proof, this guy is innocent. The question was more difficult than I thought. He (the accused – as he was representing himself) asked me if his conversion to Christianity from Islam would affect my judgment of him. The answer I gave was “No. Neither your faith nor mine will not influence my decision.” This was the answer I believed to be the most true, because I believe in the system first. I believe that a jurors duty is to determine guilt not apply their own personal morality or religious beliefs to the case. This as far as I have ever read is how our system works. My belief in the system however was rocked when the accused accepted this impartial position but the crown didn’t and I was excused from the jury. I realise there may be other reasons I was excused but if the crown wanted a juror that would take Mr Tehrankari’s religion into account during the trial then are they looking for biased jurors? This is why I don’t support the death penalty. If the Crown did want a biased juror, then were they really looking to convict this man on the evidence or on the opinion of the jurors? That said Allen Tehrankari, is by anything I have read, one of the most heinous criminals that ever walked the streets of Ottawa. Why can I say this now? Because both in my mind and according to the courts Allen Tehrankari is guilty. But would I want an imperfect system to hold the power of life and death over a man even a man as evil as Allen Tehrankari no. For every Tehrankari type out there, there are the Milgard types as well. Milgard was sentenced to life in prison for a crime he did not commit in a poorly conducted trial only to be exonerated years later. The innocents that could be convicted and sentenced to death are not worth the benefit of the death penalty. If we say it is acceptable that one innocent die so we can kill 1000 guilty men we are deciding the fate of an innocent man. The life of one for the life of another can only be given willingly. So long as one person rejects the death penalty then it cannot be applied. Why? Because if I reject the death penalty and I am falsely accused of murder and sentenced to death, then all those that voted for the death penalty are my murderers. If we all accept the death penalty we all accept the risk to our lives, that I might do but I do not accept the risk to the lives of others.