Even in Texas, I thought when I first saw this story, there cannot be 12 people this ignorant. I thought it a bad joke, not worth mentioning here. But apparently it is true: a Texan jury convicted an HIV positive man for assault with a deadly weapon: his saliva.
I reproduce the Associated Press story in its entirety here:
HIV-positive man sentenced 35 years for spitting at officer
DALLAS (AP) — An HIV-positive man convicted of spitting into the eye and mouth of a Dallas police officer has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Because a jury found that Willie Campbell used his saliva as a deadly weapon, the 42-year-old will have to serve half his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. He was sentenced Wednesday.
Campbell was being arrested in May 2006 for public intoxication when he began resisting and kicking inside the patrol car, Dallas police office Dan Waller testified.
Campbell was convicted of harassment of a public servant.
I can see putting the guy away for a while for being a drunken lout, or just an idiot. But not as much of an idiot as the members of the jury, who don’t appear to know that HIV does not survive in saliva. Some people are confused by the fact that you can test for HIV on saliva, but that’s because commercial test kits look for antibodies to HIV, not the virus itself. But surely any self-respecting defence lawyer, not to mention any judge, ought to have directed the jury away from their ludicrous conclusion.
There’s been a fair bit of righteous indignation about this around the blogosphere, (from Gawker and Joe-my-God and Bill Crider, for example), but not enough, apparently, to spare the lout in question two decades behind bars at the expense of the long-suffering US taxpayer.
Thanks to Peter Deloughry for prodding me to post on this madness.