Willie Campbell, 42, is a homeless man who is HIV-positive. In May 2006, he spit in the face of three Dallas police men who arrested him. He was sentenced to 35 years for harassing a public servant with a deadly weapon: his saliva. It is a very disturbing sentence given the lack of a credible threat to passing AIDS by saliva.
This crime requires a deadly weapon, but science is not on the side of the court or jury.
There is no question that Henrichs should have been charged for intentionally spitting and taunting these officers, but 35 years?
Campbell is obviously disturbed. His outbursts in court led to his removal, including telling the officers to “rot in hell” for “railroading an innocent man.” Equally bizarre is his waiver of appeal in such a questionable case. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, H.I.V. has repeatedly correct the misunderstanding over saliva and kissing. The Centers insist that “contact with saliva, tears or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of H.I.V.,” the agency reports.
Where is the deadly weapon? The court cannot simply ignore the science and pretend that saliva can transfer AIDS. The fact that an appeal has been waived makes this even more worrisome. Under this theory, people could start to file criminal complaints on HIV-positive people for unwanted kisses or alleged spitting. The court and prosecutors clearly failed to resist the well-founded anger at this man and do simple justice.
The public defender needs to first deal with the waiver and argue incompetence. This is an effective death sentence imposed on a clearly flawed legal basis.
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