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139-year sentence for brutal Palo Alto attack

Original post made on Jul 20, 2012

Lionel Blanks Jr., who was convicted of the May 22, 2010, attempted murder, rape, kidnapping and other felonies related to a brutal attack in Palo Alto, was sentenced Friday to more than 139 years in prison.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 20, 2012, 3:21 PM

Comments (12)

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Deputy Public Defender Valeros claims that Blanks "only has one life to give", and that he was a "very gracious client". What about the life and peace of mind that he took from the innocent victim, and quite frankly I could care less how gracious he was through the court proceedings. As an officer of the court, what a disrespectful thing to say post trial and sentencing. Think about how this victim and other victims of sexual assault must feel upon hearing this.

DPD Valeros could certainly provide a proper defense and ensure due process without making insensitive and disrespectful remarks such as these. What an absolute disgrace to her profession and justice system.


Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm

It is instances like this that have made me rethink my opposition to capital punishment.

While I still oppose it in many circumstances, life in prison on the taxpayers' dime is too good for an admitted criminal who violently rapes and attempts to murder a woman like this.


Posted by George, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm

It costs the taxpayers more to prosecute and try a death sentance than it does to keep a crimal housed and fed for life. It's even cheaper to educate (high school and college) and raise up an independent and decent young adult. Yet, we as a society don't take on that responsibility. What does that say about the humanity of the rest of us?


Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2012 at 8:08 pm

@ George:

While I certainly agree with your thoughts on education and the need to raise up moral citizens, I think that there would still be a few monsters. Look at what happened in Colorado. That young man was a Ph.D. student and shot 71 innocent moviegoers.

And, of course, the cost of the trial is inconsequential, because it would cost the same no matter if you are seeking LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE or CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. So, the difference is in the cost of housing a prisoner for life...or death.

I have never seen the actual figures that draw a comparison even though I have heard many people claim that it costs more to execute an individual. If that is the case, then they just aren't doing it right.

Again, I am opposed to capital punishment in most cases. However, there are many instances -- like this one -- where I think that it is justifiable.

Few people would argue that Hitler, Bin Laden or Nazi war criminals deserved the privilege to live at the taxpayers' expense. Without sounding too callous or inhumane, I think that punishment can cost just as little as a stiff, strong rope. It worked in Nuremberg.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 21, 2012 at 2:09 am

> Deputy Public Defender Gilda Valeros asked the court not to consider a violent crime that Blanks had committed as a youth more than 20 years ago.

Of course not, then they would have to consider the mistake they made 20 years ago.

> What does that say about the humanity of the rest of us?

It says we care about doing what is necessary to protect each other, those of us who are civilized and have a brain, from people like this.

I am sure there are many reasons this person grew up the way he did, and maybe someday all of us can start to think and talk about making this world better so we do not create so so so many people like this.

I am concerned about our collective humanity, but not having the death penalty in most states or in our state does not seem to have increased our humanity any that I can see, so I think the death penalty is a false point in any argument about humanity.

If we had concentration camps or death camps then we would have a problem with our collective humanity that needed urgent action, but it seems to me that what we have now are incompetent and self-aggrandizing politicians who want to pander and get involved in the justice system.

We need to take the politics out of it. This should not be a political issue, it should be looked at as more of a health issue.

I think the brutality of this crime is enough to warrant the death penalty, that is assuming the evidence was as strong as it appears. I could go either way, but I do not balk at thinking someone like this might be executed.


Posted by moi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2012 at 8:22 am

When the story of this violence broke in May of 2010, comments on this website questioned the veracity of the victim's claims.

I think there is a lesson here.


Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 21, 2012 at 10:57 am

"Gas this animal!"

"It is instances like this that have made me rethink my opposition to capital punishment."

Nope. Let him live through hell on earth, also known as the prison system, for the rest of his days.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 21, 2012 at 11:06 am

> Let him live through hell on earth, also known as the prison system, for the rest of his days.

This is such a backward and silly statement.

First, the prison system is not supposed to be a torture system, and if it is then it violates the Constition not to mention moral codes and the law.

Second, trying to make the best of it since we do not have the death penalty byh wishing people were brutalized in prison is just wrong-thinking.

Prison is there to isolate bad people from society and in some cases to punish, but the way they do that is by solitary confinement, and that is torture now matter how you look at it, it is inhuman.

We criticize other countries for their brutality, but how can we do that and then say we want our prisons to be like Turkish torture chambers.

The horribleness of this crime, or any crime like this, even though it did not result in anyone's death is so bad that I think the death penalty would be in order. I don't normally support the death penalty since it is so poltical and used to railroad people that might not deserve it or be innocent, but for those such as this guy where there is not a doubt, I don't see a problem assuming due process.

There are some crimes that demand the death penalty.


Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 21, 2012 at 11:38 am

@ Hulkamania:

If it is so "hellish" in the prison system, then why do so many of the men on death row perpetually appeal the case on the grounds of "cruel and unusual punishment?" They WANT to live, right?

I think that justice isn't blind in quite a few cases. Every once in a while, there is a case where the individual strapped to the gurney still refuses to acknowledge guilt. When you are going to "meet your maker," a man refusing to apologize is either so self-centered and brazen in his mind that he would go to death claiming his innocence...or he is actually innocent. I worry about killing the wrong person for a crime.

That -- and the opportunity for the truly guilty to be sorry for a crime -- has been the basis for my opposition to the death penalty. However, there are cases in which admittedly guilty men just don't care.

I am thinking about the racist in Texas who refused to apologize last year (the one who had an offensively huge "last" meal). Some crimes are so heinous and vile that life on the taxpayers' dime is just too kind.

In this case, I think that the same can be said of this man. I don't think that there is any doubt of his guilt and I believe that he indicated it in testimony too. Something is so vile in a man who will do what he has done that I don't think that there is any benefit to him or society by allowing him to live for another 50 years with taxpayers' flipping the bill.


Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

"This is such a backward and silly statement.

First, the prison system is not supposed to be a torture system, and if it is then it violates the Constition not to mention moral codes and the law.

Second, trying to make the best of it since we do not have the death penalty byh wishing people were brutalized in prison is just wrong-thinking."

You're a silly silly boy Anon. You really need a reality check. Black and white, the prison systems are not suppose to be a form of torture. Reality shows that many are exactly that.

I got to tour both McNeil Island and San Quentin a number of years ago. McNeil Island, being run by the Feds, seemed to be a place to pay for crimes and also offer some rehabilitation. Q was hell on earth.

"If it is so "hellish" in the prison system, then why do so many of the men on death row perpetually appeal the case on the grounds of "cruel and unusual punishment?" They WANT to live, right?'

Of course they want to live but they also have nothing better to do than to file appeal after appeal. Hence the term jail house lawyer.


Posted by Pearl, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Pearl is a registered user.

I never cease to be amazed at the way these defense attorneys pimp their clients to the court and the consuming public. Was Mr. Blanks also a "very gracious" rapist?


Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 23, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Alice Schaffer Smith is a registered user.

The Death Penalty costs much more than life in prison to the end of his life: there are 2 trials, one the guilty or not phase, and then the second on whether the death penalty is appropriate. That more than doubles the cost of the trial (2 juries). There are automatic series of appeals, which take years, including the huge cost of the transcripts, etc. All death penalty prisoners are entitled to have their files in their prison cells, and therefore for the reason of confidentiality, have single rooms. So it is true that the cost is a real factor.

Criminal justice system is supposed to include rehabilitation and restitution. The victim is entitled to ensure that punishment is appropriate. The perpetrator should be punished but society also should work towards his rehabilitation, reeducation and perhaps to make his life better, as a result of his incarceration.


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