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Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
September 25
1970 - Lagasse family helps save Mentryville buildings as Newhall and Malibu brush fires erupt & join into worst fire in SoCal history. Twelve fires over 10 days burn 525,000 acres, kill 13 people and destroy approx. 1,500 structures. [story]
Clampitt fire

You Know I'm Right | Commentary by Betty Arenson
| Friday, Jan 24, 2014

bettyarensonIt was a gruesome murder. Murders commonly are.

It involved the untimely death of a defenseless young woman in 1989. Now there will be a lawsuit. Not litigation on behalf of the victim herself or her suffering family, but one on behalf of the convicted rapist and murderer Dennis McGuire.

This is not a synopsis for the soft or the weak, so beware.

Joy Stewart was a 22-year-old married woman and about 8 months pregnant when she crossed paths with McGuire in Ohio in 1989.

McGuire, then about 29, kidnapped Joy drove her to a location where he tried to rape her after she refused to have sex with him.

Because her advanced pregnancy had morphed her body, McGuire failed at the usual rape attempts, so he tortured for her, for one, with sodomy rape. Court documents would show that she became “hysterical.” McGuire was sane enough to decide he might end up in jail for raping a pregnant woman, so he concluded he had to kill her.

At some point he tried to choke her (the autopsy indicated it was with Joy’s own shirt), then stabbed her with a knife. That wound wasn’t deadly enough, so then he “inflicted a 4½-inch cut in her throat and severed her carotid artery and jugular vein.” Apparently it was messy for him because “he wiped blood off his hands on her right arm.”

Hikers found her body dumped in the woods the next day. Naturally her 8-month fetus was dead, as well.

The murder was a mystery for 10 months until McGuire was arrested for a different crime. As is typical with cowardly criminals, he tried to bargain his way out of those consequences by saying he had information about Joy’s murder.

McGuire led authorities to the hidden knife but blamed his brother-in-law. DNA proved otherwise, and McGuire was convicted in 1994. His guilt was not at issue, by his own later admission.

His second cowardly act was seeking leniency. His lawyer argued the usual textbook yada-yada of McGuire having been abused physically, mentally, sexually, resulting in brain function impairment.

Thank God and justice, the manufactured hogwash didn’t work. McGuire, now 53, was put to death by the state of Ohio on Jan. 16, 2014, via lethal injection. That is the same day he became the victim.

Anti-death penalty forces nationwide are trying every sleazy trick they can conjure up to stop violent criminals from getting their earned and merited justice. One tactic is trying to ban all of the lethal drugs needed for the final injections. Because of pressure on manufactures and distributors of pentobarbital, the drug cannot be obtained by prisons. Therefore other “cocktails” must be found.

McGuire’s daughter and son witnessed his execution. They, along with two attorneys and other sympathizers, claim it took him too long to die. Various articles put the time between 15 and 24 minutes. Amber McGuire said it was the worst day of her life.

For Pete’s sake. Did no one tell her it was not a garden party where tea and crumpets would be served?

Reportedly, McGuire gasped and choked, albeit in an unconscious state. His camp chose words such as “agony” and “torture” and one reporter called it “evil.”

The two offspring and their attorney say the suit won’t be about the money, but to spare others from the same ending.

Hmm. If it isn’t about the money, wouldn’t it be wonderful if this crowd fought instead for the real victims and the ever-suffering families they leave?

Let’s hear about the real victim in this case: Joy Stewart.

Joy Stewart should be 47 years old now, and maybe even a doting grandmother. Her baby was a boy, and he was to be named Carl. That was her dad’s name. He should be 25 now. More tragically, Joy’s husband, Kenny, committed suicide less than one year after his wife’s murder.

It makes a sane person heart-heavy and boggles the mind – what some families endure. Joy’s family lost a daughter, grandson and son-in-law in a matter of months, and horridly. Her devastated father and mother died in 1997 and 2007, respectively. Of them, Joy’s surviving sister, Carol Avery, said: “They never fully recovered, and both died knowing that her killer still lived.”

I don’t understand opponents to the death penalty any more than they understand my sense of justice. For my side, I’ll give you the stance of the prosecutors. Preble County prosecutors said: “One can scarcely conceive of a sequence of crimes more shocking to the conscience or to moral sensibilities,” referencing kidnapping, tortuous rape and murder of a pregnant woman. Recognizing the Constitution protects “cruel and unusual” punishment, Assistant Attorney Gen. Thomas Madden said, essentially, there is no promise of comfort: “You’re not entitled to a pain-free execution.”

Carol Avery’s summation after the execution was described as “eloquent.” She said: “There has been a lot of controversy regarding the drugs that are to be used in his execution, concern that he might feel terror, that he might suffer. As I recall the events preceding her death — forcing her from the car, attempting to rape her vaginally, sodomizing her, choking her, stabbing her, leaving her to bleed out — I know she suffered terror and pain.

“He is being treated far more humanely than he treated her.”

Can’t add to that.


Betty Arenson has lived in the SCV since 1968 and describes herself as a conservative who’s concerned about progressives’ politics and their impacts on the country, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She says she is unashamed to own a gun or a Bible, couldn’t care less about the color of the president’s skin, and demands that he uphold his oath to protect and follow the Constitution of the United States in its entirety. Her commentary publishes Fridays.


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  1. Gabe Carr says:

    I understand your position and certainly respect your views, however I wonder why you feel the need to sink to the level of Mr. McGuire in terms of inflicting similar pain and terror. Are we then no different than he? Would you volunteer to view such subsequent executions? It’s possible your views would change drastically were you to take part in (as a viewer or part of the execution team) such an event.

    What are your thoughts?

  2. W says:

    First, do you proof-read your articles? Your writing skills leave much to be desired, and there are significant typos in your column. Second, the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the drugs you speak of, are purposefully making the drugs unavailable to the US. The drugs were not “banned.” Perhaps you would have found that out with some research, and less ranting. Lastly, and most importantly, have you heard of the constitution? It is that document that is the law of the land, so to speak. Oh right, you reference it in your bio above. If you were actually familiar with it, you would know about the 8th amendment, and that it says, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” So there you have it. Perhaps I should be writing this column.

  3. Perley says:

    Neither of you have cited any new view points. Thus perhaps your words are for your own ego. I myself believe firmly in the death penalty for all the reasons expressed many times by many people. Spend your energy on some lawfull constructive action to advance your views versus tired verbal sparring that accomplishes nada.

    • W says:

      Actually Perley, I didn’t need to cite a view point, because what I stated is fact. The 8th amendment is law and there is no arguing that. The author should have done a little research before she started speaking her opinions. Oh, and some proof reading. You should follow suit with that.

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