Danny Harold Rolling shall remain within the history of our criminal justice system as the most diabolical figure to emerge into society since his predecessor, Theodore Robert Bundy. Rolling had not managed to accumulate the same amount of murders as Bundy. However, he embarked upon a brutal tour, which succeeded to administer profound unrest into the heart of a community. Rolling was eventually apprehended by police and stood trial for the awful actions he had committed. Such deeds by which were regarded as not only legally deplorable, but also morally malevolent.
In this paper, I shall present essential elements, to which served as prominent factors throughout the investigative and judicial process. I should hope to illustrate a vivid structure of facts, history, and testimony, which invokes the notion that Danny Rolling had to have been psychologically ill. Upon that notion, Rolling should not have been executed. Gainesville, Florida was once recognized for its illustrious geography and pleasant community. How unfortunate for its citizens to have their notable community be transformed into an arena of terror and butchery (Steel, 2008).
On August 26,, 1990, an officer received a call regarding a noise complaint. The officer responded to this, which transported him to the William Village Apartments. The maintenance engineer for the apartment complex was waiting upon him. He had introduced the officer to distressed parents, Frank and Patricia Powell. They expressed concern for their daughter, Christina. Apparently, she had not been in contact with anyone for several days. The parents had also indicated that Christina’s roommate, Sonja Larson, had also been missing.
Larson had plans to meet with her mother the day prior; she however failed to fulfill the engagement (Arndorfer, 2005). The officer along with the maintenance engineer proceeded toward the girls’ apartment to further inspect the matter. Upon arrival to the door, the men discovered the lock had been tampered with, thus made it challenging to access. They were forced to break a windowpane, which resulted in the dispersal of a vulgar odor from within the apartment. After entering the premises, they immediately located the mutilated corpse of a female. The corpse was position grotesquely upon a bed.
The corpse was also nude with the arms extended over the head (Steel, 2008). A second female corpse was also located within the apartment. Both corpses had been slashed numerously with malice. Reports indicated that the corpses were purposefully positioned in a particular manner. The killer wanted to maximize the amount of shock effect. The horrific aftereffects proved rather successful. It managed to even mortify those who routinely deal with cases as such (Arndorfer, 2005). Later that evening two deputies from the Alachua County, were called to investigate the absence of eighteen-year-old Christa Leigh Hoyt.
Hoyt was employed as a records assistant at the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. Her co-workers had become worried of her absence. She had never missed a work-day and failed to respond to phone-calls made by the office. Once the deputies arrived at Hoyt’s apartment, they proceeded to knock on the front door, to which produced no response (Arndorfer, 2005). Hoyt’s vehicle remained parked nearby, which presented the likely notion that she may still be within her home. The deputies then began to knock zealously hoping that Hoyt had merely overslept.
The deputies gained access to the backyard of the complex and they attempted to open the glass sliding door, however the entry was locked. (Steel, 2008). The deputies bent over to peer below the shades and with the use of flashlights; they discovered what appeared to be a female, which was suspected to be Hoyt. The female was seated on a bed while hunched over at waist level. They first noticed a small pool of blood around her feet. The deputies then noticed that the female’s head had been completely detached (Steel, 2008). Deputies forcefully entered the premises and noticed that blood was spattered around the apartment.
They also discovered that the corpse’s nipples had been severed then placed on the bed beside it. It was then revealed that the corpse’s torso was completely cut open and that a blade was used to carve from the chest through the genitals. Further data also indicated that corpses from the current and prior crime scenes were missing parts, which officers were unable to find (Steel, 2008). Tracy Inez Puales and Manueal R. Taboada shared an apartment at Gatorwood Apartment. A mutual friend of the pair became worried because no one had heard from them for days.
The friend asked the building’s maintenance engineer to check on them. He agreed, knocked on their door; but there was no response. With the use of a master-key, he entered and located a corpse lying on the floor. He ran for assistance and returned with police officers. The female corpse was identified as Puales (Steel, 2008). Another corpse was located, which was indentified as Taboado. Besides the actual slaying, there were neither acts of mutilation nor excessive malice delivered. It was deduced that the killer may have been interrupted before enacting any such attempts.
Gainesville had become increasingly terrified. The media had taken the liberty of comparing the assailant to notorious murderers of the past such as Ted Bundy and Jack the Ripper. The assailant’s identity was unknown, so the public began to refer to him as the Gainesville Ripper (Fisher, 2005). On September 8, 1990, Danny Rolling had just been arrested. Rolling had just robbed a local supermarket at gunpoint and then attempted to flee by automobile. While Rolling was still within the market, one witness notified authorities of the crime in progress and after a suspenseful chase, Rolling was eventually restrained.
Rolling was already issued a warrant for his arrest in connections to various prior crimes. He was detained in Marion County Jail and waited on his indictment for multiple counts of robbery and burglary (Steel, 2008). Rolling remained well composed from the beginning of his arrest and managed to be rather cooperative with the police and correctional officials. Rolling ended up suffering a violent episode so his attorney made a request to have him psychologically examined and she also filed a motion to withdraw Rolling’s guilty plea on all charges in light of his recent conduct (Fisher, 2005).
Agencies of Shreveport, Louisiana had created a joint task force with Gainesville officials based on data, which established that the murders had occurred within each of their jurisdictions. Shreveport authorities had been investigating a triple homicide which occurred within November of 1989. Intelligence indicated that the killer thoroughly cleansed the female corpses with a solvent and were fashioned theatrically to produce maximum shock effect. Rolling was made a suspect in the joint investigation (Steel, 2008). He was wanted by Shreveport authorities for the attempted murder of his father, James Rolling.
Detectives inspected a campsite, which Rolling occupied prior to his arrest. Articles were procured then taken into evidence. They found a pair of pants belonging to Rolling, which contained samples of Tabaoda’s blood. A cassette player, which contained a recorded monologue of Rolling, was discovered, made on the evening of the first murder. Evidence irrefutably proved Rolling to be the Gainesville Ripper. Semen samples were later found at each scene, which tested to be a positive match for Rolling (Arndorfer, 2005). Before the trial began, Rolling met with his attorney, C. Richard Parker and expressed his desire to plea guilty. Parker advised his client to reframe from doing so. He believed the mitigating factors were strong enough to prevent a death sentence. Parker wished to play on Rolling’s childhood of abuse, which had later manufactured psychological abnormalities. Rolling rejected that notion. The trial began on March 7th, 1994. A jury evaluated evidence and testimony to determine if Rolling ought to be executed. The defense was required to satisfy a series of mitigating circumstances. First, the accused had to have suffered mental illness during the course of the crime.
Second, the crime had to have been committed under severe stress. Third, the accused had to have grown up in an abusive household. Fourth, there must have been a history of substance abuse. And fifth, the accused had to display remorse (Steel, 2008). The prosecution described in great detail, how Rolling not only murdered his victims, but tortured them as well. The murders were particularly heinous and cruel. The evidence was substantial and had surpassed the necessary level of reasonable doubt and Rolling ought to be executed. John J.Kearns represented Rolling and it had become Kearn’s challenging task to sway the jury not to execute him (Steel, 2008). Although the crime was especially appalling, Rolling was psychologically ill, thus ought not to be held liable. One might find it difficult to imagine Rolling, a victim. However, persisting physical and emotional abuse employed by his father, had had a profound effect upon his psyche. Rolling was a pitiful soul who had experienced a tragic life. The defense presented numerous witnesses to corroborate the notion that Rolling was disturbed.
Relatives and friends delivered testimonies which illustrated the desolate portrait that was Rolling’s childhood. More importantly, psychiatrists who spent hours examining Rolling, expressed profound objection to his execution (Steel, 2008). James and Claudia Rolling were married in 1953. When Claudia became pregnant, James was infuriated. He carried a volatile reputation and was abusive to Claudia; even during her pregnancy she endured his physical attacks. Danny was born May 26, 1954 (Steel, 2008). Claudia would later give birth to another son, Kevin. Not even the joy of fatherhood helped settle his antagonistic behavior toward his wife.
Even in infancy, Danny suffered abuse from his father. When he was learning to crawl, James would become angry and punished him for not crawling properly. James would randomly strike Danny depending on his mood. When Danny was four, he and his brother witnessed James attacking their mother. She was severely injured and after the incident she left James. They remained separated for four months, but later reconciled. The abuse never ceased; another violent attack forced Claudia to flee once more with the children; but she would accept James back into her life shortly after.
The family then moved to Shreveport, Louisiana (Steel, 2008). Danny and Kevin Rolling cared dearly for their mother. Despite their stature, they tried to shield her from the onslaught of their father but their efforts proved meager. The home was no different from a dungeon; Claudia and the children had become prisoners within their home with James as the warden. Claudia tried her hardest to keep contact between James and the boys minimal (Steel, 2008). James’ attacks were often capricious and severely disproportionate to the transgression. James was actually pursuing excuses to punish them.
The boys suffered consequences if they didn’t sit properly or failed to hold their dinner utensils accordingly. They were even punished breathing improperly. If they failed to satisfy any of his likings, they would receive floggings with either a belt or anything conveniently located. He would occasionally drive his fist drive into their heads for amusement, and ceased once he tired. Whatever the course of punishment, the boys weren’t permitted to whimper. And if they did, the punishment would only amplify. Danny seemed to have received most of the abuse. This became routine for almost him.
As he grew older, the animosity toward his father intensified. Birthdays and holidays weren’t permitted within the house. During one Christmas, James became enraged and attacked Claudia because she purchased a tree. Soon after, Claudia suffered a mental breakdown and was hospitalized for some time (Steel, 2008). When Danny reached third grade, he had fallen ill. This caused him to miss many days of school. He was forced to repeat the grade. His teachers recommend he to sought counseling for the anxiety and psychological abnormalities he exhibited. His father ceaselessly scolded him for this.
He never received that counseling to evade further ridicule. As Danny became older, his life consequently became more problematic. He fell into severe depression, and even attempted to commit suicide (Steel, 2008). When he reached his teens, he began working. His father ordered him to quit due to failing grades. Danny was upset and argued with him. James pursued Danny and began to batter him. Danny dodged one of his attacks, and James’ arm passed through a window, which severely wounded him. James was hospitalized for his injury. During the course of which, Danny had left his home and took a razor blade.
He would use it to slit his writs with the intention of dying. He had not succeeded in this (Steel, 2008). James had just become a police officer. His newly acquired power and appreciation for corruption had caused him to become more reckless than ever. James used his influence to have Danny placed in juvenile hall for several weeks. He did so after discovering Danny had consumed alcohol with a neighbor (Steel, 2008). Danny had finally entered adulthood, and his goal was to enlist in the Air Force. He accomplished this, but was discharge shortly after he was discovered using illegal drugs.
Danny suffered heavily from alcoholism and drug addiction. It prevented him from managing a functional life. Danny married O’Mather Halko in 1974. They would later produce a daughter, and name her Julie (Steel, 2008). The marriage had lasted only for three years, to which consequently devastated him. Depression had begun to consume him. He began to wander and behave recklessly. He was then arrested for armed robbery. When relating to his mother of the incident, he spoke of his desire to have been killed during the robbery. He again tried to commit suicide, however was no more successful than the first attempt (Steel, 2008).
Danny was again arrested for armed robbery. Claudia visited him and was distressed by his meager appearance. Danny returned to his parent’s home in 1988. He had difficulties readjusted, which forwarded him into depression. His inability to retain employment made him feel inadequate. One evening, he and James had a dispute with one another. Claudia returned from an errand and immediately felt intense between the two. James yelled and ordered Danny to step aside. Danny responded with a challenge. James went to retrieve his gun. Danny ran the opposite direction, and James followed in pursuit.
Claudia heard three shots and feared that Danny was hit. Five more shots were fired, and then she went to investigate. She found James on the floor, and discovered that he had been shot in the head. She then called for emergency services. James survived in the injury and Danny was arrested for attempted murder (Steel, 2008). Claudia Rolling’s effective managed to humanize Danny. Claudia was successful in vocalizing her son’s experiences onto an audience of twelve strangers. Danny had suffered a tremendous ordeal while growing up; its affects are obvious.
Despite the fact that he lived a challenging life, the jury did believe that automatically made him psychologically incompetent (Steel, 2008). The jury determined that Rolling ought to receive the death penalty. Judge Morris delivered his separate opinion and conceded to the notion that Rolling functioned at an immature level. Psychological ills inhibited him to conform to the rules of the law, and to appreciate its bearing onto the structure of society. Despite this notion, his abnormality was a non-statutory mitigating factor and only applied minimal. Judge Morris concurred with the jury.
The aggravating factors trumped the mitigating (Steel, 2008). Three psychiatrists all reinforced the notion that Rolling was psychologically ill. The abuse inflicted by the father was substantial. The mother failed to protect the son. Rolling’s moral comprehension become warped due to years of mistreatment. The effects of which has demonstrated immense effect upon his psyche and emotional vigor. Rolling suffered from severe personality disorder, which it proves visible in his inability to productively maintain a social life. He barely functions as a conscionable adult.
He lived in an intensely dysfunctional environment. I find it rather inconceivable for any moral agent to simply dismiss these considerations as mere mitigating factors. As an adult, he failed to abide to the direction by established by his moral compass, thus hurling his soul into complete and utter desolation. Rolling was fatalistic and had repeatedly attempted suicide. For some reason, he was unsuccessful in each attempt. It unexpectedly required the power of the law to step in and aid Rolling in fulfilling that desire. One should appreciate in the irony in this.