A death row inmate scheduled for execution in Tumbleweed, Wyoming had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment. All because of his last name!
Judge Horace Parks spared the inmate, Ed Species, because he agreed with Species’ lawyer that killing him violated the federal Endangered Species Act.
“It’s pretty clear that a death sentence for Mr. Species ‘endangers’ him. Thus, he cannot be executed under the statute,” Parks ruled.
Frank Turnbull, Species’ lawyer had argued “What makes this such a flagrant violation of the Endangered Species Act is that it’s the state itself that caused my client to be on this list by its sentence.
“In addition, my client has no siblings or children. So the Species name borders on extinction if Ed is executed.”
IN DEFENSE OF SPECIES
Law enforcement officials reluctantly agreed that Species had an airtight argument.
“I’ve scoured the Endangered Species Act for a loophole that would allow the government to carry out Mr. Species execution.’ But it’s just not there,” Diane Bakewood, from the Department of Justice, said, shaking her head.
That didn’t stop Chief Prosecutor Harriet Tungsten from objecting that the ruling was preposterous. She believes the Endangered Species Act was only meant to protect animals, not humans.
But in an ironic twist, defense attorney Turnbull pointed to the prosecutor’s own words during the trial.
“In the midst of describing the double-murder during the trial,” Turnbull said, dramatically, “Prosecutor Tungsten referred to my client as an ‘animal.’ If there was any lingering, last shred of doubt that Mr. Species was entitled to coverage under the Endangered Species Act, this dispelled that.”
For his part, Ed Species swore that the whole experience has transformed his life.
“Like a lot of murderers I started out as a child torturing animals,” he said. “But I’ve completely changed my point of view and just signed up for a lifetime membership to PETA.”