A story on Page 1 of Friday's York Dispatch said Gov. Tom Corbett signed an execution warrant for Harve Lamar Johnson.
Johnson was convicted in 2009 of the April 7, 2008, killing of 2-year-old Darisabel Baez in the West Philadelphia Street home they shared with the girl's mother, Neida Baez. Johnson was Baez' live-in boyfriend at the time.
A York County jury found Johnson guilty of first-degree murder for having beaten the 2-year-old child for nearly 45 minutes, when he became angry that the child's messy diaper had "exploded" onto the rug while he was spanking her.
There were more than 150 fresh injuries on the child's body, several of which would have been fatal on their own, including massive head trauma caused by repeated blows, according to Tim Barker, chief deputy prosecutor for York County.
The autopsy showed the little girl's body was covered with severe injuries, including many to the brain, chest, heart and liver. She was "covered with bruises ... from head to toe," the York City Police said.
There is no other way to put it -- Johnson brutalized that defenseless little girl.
And he deserves to die for that crime.
That's what I thought as I was reading the story in Friday's York Dispatch. "Good ... about time," I said to myself.
I say this while admitting that in recent years I've mellowed somewhat on the subject of capital punishment. And that's mostly because I've come to believe capital punishment has a lot more to do with revenge than it does with being a deterrent to murder.
I'm convinced it's not a deterrent to murder. Not now, and never has been. If that were true, given the number of people society has executed over the last 2,000 years, we wouldn't have but a couple of murders a year, if that.
Clearly, the deterrent isn't working.
So we might as well accept that capital punishment is about revenge most of the time.
I accept that. I'm even OK with it in some cases.
This is one of those cases. I'm satisfied that Johnson is one of those people -- along with Paul Gamboa-Taylor, Hubert Lester Michael, Mark Spotz, Kevin Dowling and Hector Morales, all death row inmates who committed murder in York County -- who deserve to die for the murder(s) they've committed.
In addition to Johnson, execution warrants have already been signed by the governor for Michael and Spotz.
Society will be a better place when they're gone.
Johnson's execution date has been set: Tuesday, Sept. 10 -- less than two months from now.
I was momentarily pleased by that. Justice is finally going to be done in that case, I told myself.
Then I quickly came to my senses.
Forget it. Unless I miss my guess, Johnson's not going to die on Sept. 10, or anytime soon.
He's just one more man on the list, and that's all. Keep in mind that Spotz has had six execution warrants signed. His execution date -- the latest one -- was supposed to have been Jan. 8, 2013. It didn't happen. He still sits on death row.
Michael has had three execution warrants signed, the most recent about a year ago. He was supposed to have been executed on Nov. 8, 2012. It didn't happen, either. He remains on death row.
If you do a little research, you'll find there are 10 men who committed murder in York County sitting on death row. And Johnson, based on the timing of his crime, and the length of time he's been in prison, is last on that list. His warrant is the 27th execution warrant signed by Gov. Corbett in three years.
So there are lots of people on the list ahead of him. And remember, the last execution in the state of Pennsylvania was Gary Heidnik on July 6, 1999.
The oldest York County murder on the list is Paul Gamboa-Taylor, who murdered four family members on May 18, 1991 -- his wife, his two children and another child. He also killed his mother-in-law that day, but he only got life for that crime.
There are men who committed murder in York County who have been sitting in prison, on death row, for more than 15 years. Some have used up all their appeals. At this point they're just waiting.
So logic would suggest Sept. 10 is going to come and go with Johnson still as much alive as he is today.
A lethal injection awaits him, but it's not right around the corner.
So there's no sense I hold my breath waiting for it to happen.
It'll happen in its own good time.
Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: lhick email@example.com.