We have read story after story and heard one news report after another about the miraculous change that has taken place in Skillicorn since he was convicted and placed on death row in 1994 for Drummond's murder. We hear about Skillicorn's prison ministry and how he has selflessly helped others these past 15 years.
Reporters are able to interview Skillicorn and those who know him and put a human face on the death penalty. Meanwhile Mr. Drummond has become an afterthought, casually mentioned as the Good Samaritan who stopped to help Skillicorn and two other men and was murdered...if he is mentioned at all.
This was touched on by Kansas City Star columnist Mike Hendricks Sunday, but only as far as this brief passage is concerned:
His fine points are little mentioned these days. About all we hear of him is that he was a Good Samaritan — an Excelsior Springs businessman who offered to help Skillicorn and two of his druggie pals when their car broke down on Interstate 70 one day in August 1994.
And for that kindness, Drummond, 47, was kidnapped, robbed and marched into the woods near Higginsville, Mo. It was there that one of the men, Allen Nicklasson, fired two bullets into Drummond’s brain.
And that's it. The rest of the column, despite Hendricks; premise, is about Skillicorn.
When the media is making out a man to be a martyr, and that is exactly what the Kansas City Star and other publications have done, it needs to provide a sobering balance to the equation. The crime needs to be explained each time, and the victim needs to be more than just a name. Richard Drummond was a human being with a life, a family, and a job. Why have we never been told about this? He came from Excelsior Springs. Can't just one Kansas City Star reporter pick up a telephone and call people in Excelsior Springs to get a full picture of who Richard Drummond was? Perhaps the people who might have made such calls were the victims of some of the Star's recent firings.
And while we are at it, has anyone from the Star actually read through the court records? In legal briefs, Skillicorn's attorneys claimed their client was victimized by the court's refusal to allow a potential witness to testify. Yet this same potential witness told authorities that Skillicorn, portrayed relentlessly in the media as "a follower" who never dreamed that that Allan Nicklasson would murder Mr. Drummond, was actually a cold, calculating "manipulator" who decided early that he would pin all of the blame on Nicklasson.
I have never been a fan of the death penalty, but I am less of a fan of reporting that attempts to manipulate the facts, excluding many of them, in order to make a political point, in this case, that capital punishment is wrong.
These continued attempts to portray Dennis Skillicorn as some shining knight behind bars, being wrongly sentenced to death for a murder committed by another man, make a mockery out of the truth, and are a slap in the face to those who loved RIchard Drummond.
Between now and 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, we will be inundated with information about the impending death of Dennis Skillicorn. Let's not forget, however, that Skillicorn and his companions have lived 15 years longer than they allowed Richard Drummond to live.
Who is going to speak for this man who can no longer speak for himself.
Sadly, it won't be the Kansas City Star or the rest of the traditional media.