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July 24, 2006 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-07-24

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VIEWPOINT
From the Lebanese
Student Association

The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 24, 2006 - 5
A fairly firm shadow in murder trial
TINA HILDRETH WECO.ME M To M BUBBIE

BY RYAN JABER, SERINE ABOU-
CHAKRA, ZEINAB MACKIE AND
FATIMA MAKHZOUM
In the midst of a hostile atmosphere
in the Middle East, the people of
Lebanon have long struggled to
maintain a sense of peace and security
in their country. In fact, Lebanon has
still not fully recovered from a 15-year-
long civil war (1975-1990), one which
soiled the streets of its cities and vil-
lages with blood and death.
Overlapping with this civil war was
the two decade long Israeli occupation,
which ended in 2000. In an effort to
move forward, the Lebanese population
of just less than four million began their
reconstruction efforts. In the last six
years Lebanon has been on its way to
building a solid democratic government
supported by the United States and a
stronger economic capital. Beirut, the
nation's capital, was beginning to lay
claim once again to its title as the "Paris
of the Middle East." With the revitaliza-
tion of the country's industries and the
beauty of its natural landmarks, Leba-
non anticipated more than two million
tourists this summer, many from the
United States.
On the morning of July 12, Hezbollah
forces in southern Lebanon and Israeli
troops clashed on the shared border,
which sparked the escalation of violence
that has claimed the lives of hundreds
of civilians and threatens Lebanon's
very infrastructure. The beauty of Bei-
rut, once shining along the shore of the
Mediterranean Sea, is now littered with
debris, smoke and ashes. At the peak of
tourist season, many of Lebanon's visi-
tors are stranded due to the destruction
of airports, roadways and bridges. Busi-
nesses and public places have been shat-
tered by Israel's long-range missiles. As

each day passes with bloodshed, both
Lebanon and Israel taste the bitterness
of the ugly realities of war.
As the world examines the intensi-
fying situation between Hezbollah and
Israel, many fear the recurrence of yet
another war that could possibly tear
apart Lebanon and its people. While
countries are condemning Hezbollah's
actions, they're simultaneously describ-
ing Israel's defense as "disproportion-
ate" and "excessive." To date, 500,000
Lebanese civilians have been displaced.
More than 300 have been killed, and
more than 1,000 wounded.
At the same time, dozens of Israelis
have been killed, and more have been
displaced and wounded. As both Hez-
bollah and Israel draw heavy criticism
from the internationalcommunity,more
crucial is the increasing toll on innocent
civilians on either side of the border.
One death is often one too many, and
this situation is certainly no different.
The Lebanese Student Association
stands together as it watches this situa-
tion unfold with concern. Many mem-
bers are at unease as they worry for
friends and family members currently in
Lebanon and the surrounding areas. We
hold hope for a ceasefire along with a
peacefulresolution to the conflicts in the
Middle East,as we condemn violence on
both sides. Despite the massive amount
of damage that Lebanon has taken, we
have faith that our country will rebuild
its cities and roads through its strength
and historically proven determination.
Jaber is an LSA senior and a cartoonist
for the Daily. Abou-Chakra is an LSA
senior, Mackie is an LSA junior and
Makhzoum is an Engineering graduate
student. The writers are members of the
Lebanese Student Association and are
writing on behalf ofthat organization.

T here's some- evidence,
thing strange eyewitnes
about the way never eve]
.4 4, our justice system So what e
operates. In a crimi- Here's wh
nal trial, jurors are the jury b
asked to determine the night<
whether a defendant Pelley anc
is guilty "beyond the had argu
shadow of a doubt." 17-year-oh
That's a great phrase to go by, but the prob- erend sayi
lem isit's not very clearly defined. After all, home afte
what does a "shadow of a doubt" look like? other teen
Is it a gnawing gut feeling? Or is nothing too strict
more than a fleeting thought that maybe this and to ast
guy didn't do what the prosecutor says he prosecuto
did? I'm inclined to think it's closer to the to make th
fleeting thought. After all, shadows are not The 17
finite objects, but slight possibilities.If a rea- also, alleg
sonable person can present a coherent argu- tims were
ment that the defendant might be unjustly between t
charged, then the glove doesn't fit. the house
The jurors in a well-publicized quadru- which the
ple murder case in northern Indiana obvi- that Pelle)
ously disagree with me. They must think various te
that "beyond a shadow of a doubt" means friends an
the defendant had opportunity and a differentn
motive and, well,is "probably"guilty.Last and Pelley
Friday, after deliberating for 31 hours, five testifiedhi
men and seven women decided 34-year- al). Some
old Jeffrey Pelley, a former resident of and sever
Lakeville, Ind., murdered his father, step- the timelir
mother and two stepsisters in 1989. Pelley, Since t
who was 17 at the time of the crimes, now paper and
faces up to 260 years in prison. the mid-si
There was no physical evidence pre- engulfed i
sented at his trial, which took place in people th
South Bend. No murder weapon, no DNA completel
Partypooper.com
JOHN STIGLICH STIGGY SAYS

no fingerprints. There were no
ses and no confession. Police
n considered any other suspects.
vidence did they convict him on?
at the prosecution presented, and
ought: The murders happened on
of Pelley's prom, April 29, 1989.
id his father, Rev. Robert Pelley,
ed ferociously that day over the
d's post-prom plans, with the rev-
ng his son was required to return
r the dance. The son, like many
nagers, felt his father was being
and insisted on going bowling
Jeepover afterward. According to
rs, that disagreement was enough
his young man kill his family.
7-year-old had the opportunity
ed the prosecution. The four vic-
killed in a 20-minute window
the time pre-prom visitors left
- a parish of the local church at
reverend served - and the time
y left for his prom. There were
stimonies from friends, ex-girl-
d prom party members, detailing
memories on their own activities
y's mood during the dance (each
e was calm and did not act unusu-
of their stories didn't match up,
al (including Pelley's) contradict
ne prosecutors tried to establish.
he start of the trial and the news-
television coverage that ensued,
ze town of South Bend has been
n discussion over the case. Some
ink he did it, some think he's
y innocent. Rumors have flown

about Pelley's character, background and
extra curricular activities; everyone says
they know someone who knows someone
who knows that the defendant did or did not
shoot the gun that killed his family. Prob-
lem is, none of this was presented in court.
What was presented is no less troubling.
Why could police not find the murder
weapon? How could Pelley have blown his
family to bits, cleaned himself up and left
in a shining prom tuxedo all in 20 min-
utes? How could a 17-year-old have been
so calm if he had just murdered his fam-
ily? The defense, to be sure was not stellar.
After all, who else would have committed
these crimes? Who had the opportunity
or the motive? Police did not consider any
other suspects, so we might never know.
My point is not that Jeff Pelley is inno-
cent. I don't know him, I wasn't there on
the night of the murders and as far as
I'm concerned, it's possible that he is the
assailant. But that's not supposed to be
enough in American court rooms. Pos-
sibilities are possibilities, and this case's
probables leave blankets of doubt on the
reasonable mind.
The defense is considering an appeal,
and perhaps in the meantime someone can
discover firm evidence to prove the case one
way or the other. But until then, this jury's
decision is a shame to our courts. "Innocent
until proven guilty" and "beyond the shadow
of a doubt" are both mantras in our ideals of
justice, but too often trampled by probability.
Hildreth can be reached at
childret@umich.edu.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Bush must be held
accountable for
irresponsible veto
TO THE DAILY:
This week Democrats and Repub-
licans, in the rare spirit of bipartisan-
ship, passed legislation that would
expand federal funding for stem-cell
research. In Congress, a total of 231
Democrats, 68 Republicans and two
Independents voted for the legislation,
which would allow embryos that would
otherwise be destroyed or discarded to
be used for scientific research.
With a stroke of his pen, Presi-
dent Bush could have given hope
to millions of Americans. He could
have allowed researchers to use stem
cells potentially to cure Lou Gehrig's
disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's,
spinal cord injuries, diabetes, osteo-
porosis, cardiovascular disease and
even cancer. Instead, the president
decided to abandon these Ameri-
cans, choosing to ignore the hopes

and prayers of Nancy Reagan,
Michael J. Fox, John McCain, Jenni-
fer Granholm and thousands of other
American citizens, celebrities and
politicians who called, wrote letters
and signed petitions urging him to
sign the bill into law.
By using his first presidential veto,
Bush disregarded the wishes of 238
representatives, 63 senators and more
than 70 percent of Americans. He
ignored one of the few bipartisan pro-
posals a strongly divided Congress
has managed to pass.
President Bush and his extrem-
ist right-wing allies must be held
accountable for disregarding Ameri-
can lives and opinions. Michigan
gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos
also openly opposes expanding stem
cell research, which could bring thou-
sands of jobs to Michigan in addition
to saving millions of lives. I urge
everyone to contact Dick DeVos and
President Bush and make sure they
are held accountable.
Travis Radina
LSA junior

f ever there were
an issue that
could motivate
young Americans
to leave the safety
of their couches and
head to the polls, I
think Washington
just found it.
About two weeks
ago, House Democrats and Republicans
joined hands in opposition to an industry
that they claim threatens to cripple our pre-
cious youth. No, it wasn't Hezbollah; the
evil dragon the House of Representatives
decided to slay was Internet gambling.
The popularity of online gambling
has blossomed in the last decade. Nearly
one million Americans engage in some
form of Internet gambling every day and,
according to the CBS News, online gam-
bling is now a $12-billion industry. Noth-
ing this popular and this profitable could
ever escape the grasp of Congress.
Republicans heeded the calls of the
"family values" lobby, comprised of con-
cerned parents who are comfortable with
the fact their sons and daughters are stay-
ing at home on Friday nights counting cards
but uncomfortable with their latest credit-
card statements. Democrats, always look-
ing for new ways to churn out tax revenue,
realized that since free-trade agreements
prevent American regulation of an indus-
try based primarily offshore, they might as
well kill the industry. They'd rather have
no industry than no tax revenues.
The House legislation essentially broad-
ens Justice Department powers under the
1961 Wire Act to include online gambling

forums. Congress originally wrote the Wire
Act with the intention of banning telephone
bookmakers, but with the World Trade
Organization ruling that the Wire Act does
not apply to offshore Internet gambling
sites, it's time to update thetlaw. By banning
the use of credit-card payments to Internet
gambling sites and perhaps access to the
sites themselves, the House intends to stop
the flow of money into offshore coffers.
The Internet gambling lobby was impotent
in the face of Congressional opposition for
two reasons - Jack Abramoff is behind
bars and their colleagues in Las Vegas
lined up against them.
Back in 2000, when Congress last tried
to pass the legislation, Jack Abramoff lead
a coalition on behalf of online lotteries to
prevent a complete shutdown of Inter-
net gambling. With Abramoff in jail and
state lotteries and betting on horse racing
exempted from the new legislation, the
"brick and mortar" gambling industry
gladly supported Congress's ban. With their
primary competition potentially ruined by
congressional mandate, riverboat and land
casinos expected to see more business.
I am aware of all the negative effects
gambling can have on a person's life -
from owing creditors to destroying fami-
lies. I recognize the government's right to
tax an industry that generates revenue off
of the citizenry. But I cannot agree with
the government essentially engaging in
rank hypocrisy.
First, the idea that Internet wagers on
state lotteries and horse racing are exempt
tells us all we need to know about the pri-
orities of our legislators. They have no
problem if your gambling leads to more

revenues for your state and they turn a
blind eye to a popular activity in the states
of two powerful senators - Tennessee
(Bill Frist) and Kentucky (Mitch McCon-
nell). But don't you dare come home for
work and play Texas Hold 'Em against
people from halfway across the world.
Second, one issue that most Americans
tend to agree on is that investing money
- whether in the stock market or govern-
ment bonds - is a good idea. But is the
act of investing your money any different
from placing bets? After all, both offer
profits based on the expectation/perfor-
mance relationship and you can lose just
as much money with a bad investment as
you can by catching a bad run of cards.
For those who argue against Internet
gambling on the grounds it can become an
addictive vice -why tolerate alcohol con-
sumption? Drinking alcohol in abundance
can ruin families and lives just as easily as
degenerate gambling, but American soci-
ety learned that prohibition was not worth
the trouble. Furthermore, I think we real-
ize people can drink a sensible amount of
alcohol and notruin their home lives in the
process. Why can't the same be true with
Internet gambling?
The Senate can still make up for the
House's mistake by passing legislation that
allows the government to regulate Internet
gambling - via taxes and regulations -
without shutting down the industry. Oth-
erwise, I fear millions of American college
students will be forced to learn that their
computers have more useful purposes.
Stiglich can be reached at
jcsgolf@umich.edu.

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