A US Army soldier who has already been sentenced to life in prison without parole for his role in the murder of another Army private and his girlfriend is back in court this week on yet another grisly charge. Prosecutors say Pvt. Isaac Aguigui killed his own pregnant wife, then used her life insurance money to fund a secret anti-government militia.
Sgt. Deirdre Aguigui was seven months pregnant when she died, and her unborn baby did not survive the murder. Her husband has been charged not only with her death, but with the death of the unborn child as well.
Prosecutors say Isaac Aguigui convinced his wife to engage in kinky sex with handcuffs, then took advantage of her vulnerability to place a bag over her head and suffocate her in July 2011. The murder went unpunished at first because a military autopsy did not determine a cause of death. But when an Army buddy of Aguigui told police that the private had admitted to him that he'd killed his wife, the case was re-opened.
If he's convicted, he faces a life sentence.
But wait, isn't he already in prison? Sentenced to life without parole?
Aguigui already copped to killing former Army Pvt. Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York, some eight months after his wife's death.
Naturally, Aguigui has to be tried here. Deirdre and her unborn child both deserve justice, and if he did it, he should be punished.
But if there was ever a case that highlighted the limitations of our justice system, this is it. How do you punish someone for an alleged crime when they're already being punished more or less to the fullest extent of the law? How do you give individual justice to each person who has been wronged by a criminal?
Sure, everyone deserves their day in court -- or at least, victims deserve to have their case tried -- but I'm going to ask the uncomfortable question: is it always worth it? If the defendant is already in jail and can't get out? Is it worth spending the state's money and the prosecutors' time?
Of course, even as I say that, I recognize that Deirdre's family needs this. Taxpayer dollars are spent every day because the victims' families need the closure of a trial, and if any of us were in their shoes, we'd want the same. I can't really see any better option here.
But it leaves room for thought, doesn't it? Is there a way to better address the crimes of those already facing serious punishment for OTHER crimes? Is there a way to better punish them? Or should we just let their existing punishments stand?
If you were Deirdre Aguigui's family, what would you want to happen here?
Image via police