Maurice Clemmons' Convicted Relatives Deserve Leniency

On Monday, a Pierce County jury convicted three of four defendants--the majority of whom were relatives of the late Maurice Clemmons--of aiding the deranged cop killer as he sought to evade the authorities in the wake of his heinous homicides. The convicted trio will face 15 to 25 years of incarceration at a January 14 sentencing hearing, and Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist has pledged to seek the maximum. That's understandable, but let's hope the judge casts a more sympathetic ear to their plight, as the actions of some of those convicted were equally understandable, if not especially commendable.

Leaving Clemmons' friend Doug Davis out of this argument, Eddie Davis was Clemmons' cousin and Letrecia Nelson was his aunt. Now ask yourself this: If a relative arrived at your doorstep saying he was in big trouble with the law and needed help, would you help him? Publicly, some people would probably claim they'd tell him to get lost and/or call the cops. Such things happen; heck, they happened elsewhere during the Clemmons manhunt. But for most, whether they're willing to admit it or not, the familial bond is enough to compel otherwise sane, law-abiding people to do things that run far outside civilized society's boundaries.

Maurice Clemmons' crimes are indefensible, and in the end he got what he deserved. Granted, his posthumous inability to stand trial denied his victims' families a degree of cathartic closure, but nothing can bring those slain officers back. Had Clemmons gone on to murder other people after Davis and Nelson lent a hand to their distressed cousin/nephew, this argument might ring hollow, and that scenario is, admittedly, a legitimate way to poke a hole in this argument as is.

In the animal kingdom, protecting one's kin outstrips all other considerations. And humans are animals. Jungle law shouldn't have come into play when considering Davis' and Nelson's guilt, but it certainly merits consideration in determining whether they deserve to spend a good chunk of their lives behind bars for being dragged into the tailwind of a crime perpetuated by a member of their own flock.

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