Jens Soering is back in the news. The German diplomat’s son, who, along with his American girlfriend, was convicted of killing her parents in Bedford County in 1985.
It was a particularly vicious murder that attracted special attention at the time — first because the victims were wealthy people with an exotic background, secondly because it was one of the first trials in Virginia that allowed cameras in the courtroom. (This was during the phase when the state was experimenting with such things, and Bedford County just happened to have been chosen as a test site.)
You’ll recall that as then-Gov. Tim Kaine was leaving office, he tried to have Soering sent back to Germany — which some saw as a way for Soering to be released early from his life sentence (on the theory that the Germans might be more lax on such things than we in Virginia might be.) That move failed; there was a political outcry and the new governor — Bob McDonnell — quickly rescinded the order before any transfer took effect.
That’s led some to wonder: Will Soering’s attempted transfer be a political issue for Republicans in 2012 if Kaine is the Democratic nominee for Senate? That’s hardly an original thought we’ve had; one of our frequent readers — BobH — raised that same point in a comment on this previous post about Kaine’s potential candidacy.
Today, Soering is back in the news because his attorney has sent a letter to McDonnell claiming there’s new evidence that would exonerate his client — although the ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom, tells the Associated Press they both committed the crime.
So, what impact — if any — might Soering have in 2012?
If the match-up is Kaine vs. George Allen, this would seem an issue tailor-made for the man who can claim “I abolished parole; my opponent is soft on double murderers.”
Put another way, could Soering be the Willie Horton of 2012? Even better for Allen’s purposes in the light of his “macaca” moment last time around, Soering is white.
Don’t remember the infamous Willie Horton ad, which was used with devastating effects against Democrat Mike Dukakis in his 1988 presidential campaign? Here’s a blast from the past below as a reminder:
– Dwayne Yancey