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Those of you who’ve known me for very long are aware that there are five, possibly ten subjects in life about which I am hopelessly conflicted, seeing both sides of those issues and concluding that some are necessary evils, yet condemning others.

The retention of the death sentence in our state, federal and military criminal justice systems is one of those issues.

I have, in fact, debated both sides of this issue with my friends on many occasions.

Despite the possibility of procedural errors, compromised evidence and the career ambitions of prosecutorial and law-enforcement personnel, aren’t there still crimes which can only be punished by forcing the criminal to forfeit his or her life?

Answering that question is more difficult than it initially seems. If you’ve already answered it by the time you finish reading this sentence, please hold your opinion in abeyance until the end of this blog, take ten minutes to really think about it and, if you have a lover, fiancée or spouse, discuss it with them…after he or she reads the blog.

I will now state the facts of a current case, followed by some brief comments by both sides.

Afterward, I want you to decide whether the person accused, if found guilty, be executed.

I will tell you my conclusion, but only after receiving at least ten replies on this blog, twitter, facebook or myspace. I will count all replies toward this total.

The facts:

On the afternoon of 24 December, 2010, 12 year-old Jonathan Foster disappeared from his home, where he had been staying while his mother was out.

By sheer chance, his mother, Angela Davis, had called the house to check on him, only to have a gruff-voiced person answer her phone, turn to a person in the room—presumably Jonathan—and ask if his mother’s name was Angela.

The person hung up the phone, and when a very concerned Ms. Davis arrived at her home, it was empty.

Authorities were promptly alerted, appeals for Jonathan’s safety and return were made via the local media and a search ensued.

Unknown to everyone, save two people, Jonathan was apparently immobilised with a stun-gun and his hands bound with twine before he was taken to another location, where he was killed in a manner which Houston police have declined to reveal, for reasons they also will not reveal.

Immediately after his death, his body was mostly incinerated with an oxyacetylene cutting-torch and then dumped in a ditch on east Hardy.

Unbeknownst to the person who dumped Jonathan’s body at approximately six p.m. on Christmas Eve, the building across the street had a state-of-the-art digital surveillance system.

The following Tuesday, a passerby discovered the charred remnants of Jonathan’s body and the owner of the business turned over the entire hard-drive containing the video, which was clear enough that the person and vehicle were easily recognisable.

Within hours, police arrived at the home of 44 year-old Mona Nelson, a female welder with a criminal history dating back to 1984, which included immigrant smuggling, armed robbery and making a terroristic threat.

While talking with Ms. Nelson, officers obtained permission to enter her apartment and search it and promptly lost their breath when they did.

In the words of one homicide detective, they stumbled upon a wealth of evidence, including a stun-gun, a spool of twine matching that used to bind Jonathan’s hands, an oxyacetylene cutting-torch and a charred patch in the carpeting which almost everyone agrees is where his body was largely incinerated.

Jonathan’s body was conclusively identified the next day, through the use of dental records.

Her side:

Ms. Nelson admits dumping the body, but denies killing Jonathan.

She told one television reporter that she was drunk on vodka, when one of Jonathan’s relatives stopped her outside his Oak Street home and offered her twenty dollars to dump a plastic container. She claims that she did just that, randomly choosing the ditch along Hardy because she was “driving drunk and listening to music” and had no idea what was in the container.

Ms. Nelson, a mother and grandmother, claims that she loves children and would never harm a child.

Harris County’s side:

Jonathan’s body was never in a container. The charred remnant was left in a grassy ditch, where it shed some its carbon onto the foliage.

The digital video clearly shows the driver of the pick-up—identified by several people as Mona Nelson—removing the body from the back of a pick-up, sans container, and placing it upon the ground.

Arson dogs detected no traces of accelerant, meaning that it was incinerated with a gas-flame, rather than a flammable liquid or solid fuel.

Detectives believe Ms. Nelson waited until the right time to take Jonathan, and one has even called her a cold, soulless murderer.

Although that last bit is not concrete fact, I do believe it provides an important insight into the case and the mental devastation it has dealt the investigators tasked with handling it.

You may read much more and watch several videos on different aspects of the case at



  1. who took the video? an why would the suspect let her house be checked with all the evidence against her in it.


    • The video?
      It was simply her bad luck that the security system for the business across the street was state-of-the-art. She was caught on the surveillance video.

      Why she allowed the search?
      Honestly…who the hell knows? The police were stunned. You do see it, however. There was an unrelated case, perhaps ten years ago, where a guy demanded new DNA evidence which he claimed would get him off of death-row. His execution was stayed while the evidence was retested, but the results conclusively proved his guilt and the stay was lifted.

      It’s worth noting that the tears and remorse mentioned by the reporter were absolutely absent when Ms. Nelson was under interrogation. Everyone present talks like she had no more concern about the situation than if they were discussing something in Bangladesh.

      I’ve seen her booking photo. It is not one of a worried, harried woman. She actually looked slightly bored.


  2. This is a good blog. Keep up all the work. I too love blogging and expressing my opinions. Thanks
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