Oklahoma single mother kills intruder in self defense and why it shows the justification for capital punishment

Sarah McKinley, an 18 year old Oklahoma woman whose husband died from cancer on Christmas day found herself in a dangerous situation as two men (one of whom had a large hunting knife) tried to break into her house. When the first man finally broke in, Ms McKinley shot him.

Most people would agree that she was justified in her actions.

Legally, she was justified given that an armed man had broken into her home. Ethically, when there is a life and death situation against a person who is intentionally and willingly trying to cause you harm, you are justified in whatever you need to do to remedy the situation, even going as far as using lethal force.

Basically, the ethics of the situation could be thought of like this: if a person is trying to take the right to life of another person, then the individual who is striving to take away that right to life has relinquished his or her own right to life in the activity of trying to kill someone.

In short: if you try to murder someone, then that person is justified to kill you in self defense.

Now imagine that a murderer successfully commits a murder. Should they be executed? To say “no,” in my opinion, leads to a paradox.

If that murderer succeeds in committing a murder, arguing against the death penalty would mean that the murderer retains their right to life. I feel like this effectively makes the maximum punishment for trying to kill someone more severe than for actually killing someone.

But killing a person is obviously worse than trying to kill someone.

It’s unfortunate that the young woman found herself in such a terrifying situation, but I do think that she did the right thing.

jrb