Juror #97 Part VI –  Victims Everywhere

It has been exactly 2 years since the June 3, 2022 sentence of the death penalty for Joshua Lee Burgess.  Today, he sits with little to no action since his sentencing and for sure he is still alive and ticking eating 3 meals a day and costing an estimated $ 1.2 million per year of taxpayer dollars for his care, government-paid legal fees, and private room accommodations.    While he lives the victim Zaria Burgess who would be 20 less the 5 years since he killed her, does not.  The family members and many others permanently scarred by his actions do their best to overcome being victimized by his heinous crime. I described in part 3  of this now 6-part series about the collateral damage inflicted on all associated with his crime, there were Victims Everywhere.


People magazine described what happened that brought on the first and only death penalty verdict in the last 24 years in Union County North Carolina:    According to a statement from the Union County District Attorney’s Office, the girl’s father slit her throat “after psychologically and sexually torturing her for 22 hours” at his Monroe, N.C., home on Aug. 18, 2019. Burgess was also convicted of one count of statutory rape, three counts of statutory sex offense, and one count of first degree sexual exploitation of a minor, according to the statement. He received a minimum of nearly 76 years in prison for those offenses in addition to the death sentence.

“This was truly an especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel killing of an innocent child. This case was emotionally taxing for everyone involved. We continue to grieve with and pray for Zaria’s mother,” the Union County District Attorney’s Office said.

I tried to get an updated 2-years-later opinion on the case from D.A. Trey Robinson but time ran out before this anniversary publication date.

Meanwhile every year there are millions of victims of violent crimes added to the list of permanently scarred (or dead) people.
For deeper details on crime in America I reference this chart taken from many stats listed here.   There were 19,000 reported homicides in America and a whopping 6 people so far in 2024 have been executed for their murders.   In an election year the mass media publications are touting how violent crime was actually down for 2023 by 13% (stats do not get finalized until a year later so I show a 2022 chart).  Oh boy, only 3.1 million victims of violent crimes in 2023 instead 3.8, we should feel extra safe. 


Note of interest on crime statistics:

  • 30% of the police departments do not report what happens in their cities to the FBI stat keepers.
  • FBI and CDC stats do not include what is believed by many that 50% of crimes are not even reported
  • Many death cases are ruled as unknown causes, suicides, or drug overdoses.
  • Only 52% of homicide investigations are closed, meaning half of the offenders are still roaming scot-free and families of victims are left wondering what happened.

North Carolina continues not to carry out the death penalty as few cases receive the harshest penalty. The number of inmates in NC on death row dropped from 139 to 136.  Three died of natural causes after sitting in their cells for decades.  Get that, North Carolina continues not to follow the law of the state to execute death penalty sentences. The court system continues to placate unwritten rules that allow automatic appeals and extension after extension to extend the life of murderers who technically should have been executed 15 days after the sentencing.

As a result, most prosecutors have stopped wasting their time and taxpayer dollars and go for life sentences instead.  On a money principle it does indeed save us tax dollars as death penalty trials are estimated to cost $700k. You can find that and several other facts I rattle off from this document updated 3 days ago. 

Meanwhile, criminal advocate groups like the NCCADP   are trying to convince lame-duck North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, who is not eligible for re-election, to commute all 136 murderers on death row.  That includes Burgess who confessed to the murder of Zaria in person after driving to the sheriff’s office only 2 hours after victimizing her.  This group tries to convince people that every death sentence trial was fixed, racist, and illegal and that no one should have to suffer like the poor murderers do.  Yeah right, 13.1 million victims per year have to live in fear forever and with trauma memories but the poor 136 out of 9 million offenders get to live. 

Note, that is per year.  How many victims of violent crime are there in America if 13 million new ones happen every year?  This writer knows it first hand after losing my sister to a gunshot via domestic violence how the memory is never erased.

On the other side, Don Brown who lives in my home county ran for Congress promising to propose an increase on crimes eligible for the death penalty.  He rightfully points out in this video  that Fentanyl sellers and importers are in essence mass murderers and should be punished with the death penalty.  While stricter rules were imposed by a bill in congress   last month by another man named Brown allowing sanctions against countries with known fentanyl production.  It did little to curb the problem of street selling fentanyl and lacing lower level drugs with the fatal ingredient.  Don Brown also advocated the death penalty for sex and human traffickers as well.  Unfortunately, Don did not win the primary vote last March.

I continue to write on this topic as the failures of the judicial system to carry out punishments and light-stepping judges letting criminals off is creating havoc in our society.  Charlotte, North Carolina recently made headlines when a man who was let out of jail early shot and killed four police officers who were simply doing their job of serving a warrant. 

Four officers lost their lives.  Four families lost their husbands and fathers.  Hundreds of thousands of police officers and servants of our community were victimized and affected by yet another criminal showing no concern for people let alone those who protect us.  It is a miracle no innocent bystanders were killed in the 2 hour standoff. The politicizing of the police as the bad people by mass media and politicians trying to get votes touting ‘defunding the police’ as a smart thing cost the lives of four men including one who lived minutes from where Burgess victimized his own daughter

Sam Poloche was the last victim whose funeral ended with his burial in Monroe, NC.  This article from the Charlotte Observer states: Sam “Poloche, 42, was a reserved man, but he often showed extraordinary kindness, his father said. When he saw elderly strangers at restaurants, he’d sometimes pay for their meals. “He liked to help people,” his father said. “He would help anybody who needed help.”

And when he wasn’t working or traveling, he liked to pursue his hobby at his home in Monroe — making beautiful leather belts, wallets, and purses, which he often gave to family members and friends. “I carry with me one of the wallets he made for me,” his father said, beginning to choke up.

After getting his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from UNC Pembroke in 2009, he was hired to work as a probation officer by the state Department of Public Safety.   He recently worked as an investigator for an FBI task force on public corruption before returning to his job at the state, where it was his responsibility to serve warrants on fugitives.

“We knew about the risks, but we never expected this,” his father said.  Poloche was working with the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force around 1:30 pm. Monday, trying to serve a warrant on a felon for possession of a firearm at a home in Charlotte’s Shannon Park neighborhood on April 29.  When the gunfire erupted from inside a house from a coward shooting at three men holding nothing more than a piece of paper, Poloche was shot to death, along with two other task force members injuring several and in total killing four officers leaving Victims everywhere.  The criminal was given the death penalty but unfortunately long after taking the lives of men simply doing their daily job.

Please watch this solemn video honoring Sam and the other victims.

So, what does the Bible have to say about this topic?  As always in every blog I write for everyone in part 1 and give you the option to hear a spiritual/Biblical view on the topic.  You can stop here and move on or if you are open to more continue on, otherwise I hope I have stirred you to join in the fight against violent crime and abuse in America.

Please don’t go away yet! Read below the red line for more. If this is your first time visiting Average Joe’s Portico, every post is written in two parts. You have just read the portion challenging the mind, body, and soul.  In or on The Portico (as in Solomon’s Portico or porch), I seek to tap into your spiritual side, but only IF YOU DARE.  If you are in a mood of ‘don’t shove God down my throat’, this part is not for you, it is your out. Otherwise, Keep reading past the Red Line Below and read Part 2  for the Spiritual side of this story (For an explanation of this creative writing attempt – read the ‘Do You Dare’ Tab) 

_________________________________________________________________________________Sam Poloche’s father had this to say regarding how they as victims are handling his loss:

“Poloche’s father is hoping that the family’s faith will help sustain them through an extraordinarily painful time. “We grew up as a church family,” he said. “We know God is in control all the time. That’s the hope we have now — that someday we’ll see him again.”

Indeed, God is in control which makes us at times wonder why He allows tragedy and victimization to take place.   David in Psalm 10 asked the same question but also had the answer later that God is not asleep.  He gave man freewill and has already executed both the death penalty to the guilty (which is everyone) but also sent the solution for salvation by giving us His very own son as a sacrifice for our sins.  He didn’t want to have to go to that extent any more than Sam Poloche’s father wanted to go through the grief of losing his very big-hearted and giving son.  But God loves us so much He did!

Some want to have happiness and peace and let everyone be free regardless of what they have done and continue to do to other people.  A warped view of reality comes from groups like the NCCADP who think justice is not a necessary part of the world we live in.  Without it, man is given to do whatever he wants.  They forget it got so bad that God had to send a flood to destroy the entire population of the world thinking the people would see that crimes and sins can’t go unchecked.  To make sure we didn’t worry about that happening again every time it rained, God sent a rainbow as a sign and a promise He would never destroy the earth by water again.  But because of the need for justice, He will someday bring justice for victims everywhere.

David’s cry in Psalm 10 (NIV) was:

Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
    who are caught in the schemes he devises.
He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
    he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
    in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
His ways are always prosperous;
    your laws are rejected by him;
    he sneers at all his enemies.
He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
    He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”

His mouth is full of lies and threats;
    trouble and evil are under his tongue.
He lies in wait near the villages;
    from ambush, he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
    like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
    he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
    they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, “God will never notice;
    he covers his face and never sees.”

We all at times, especially when we see the headlines of violent crimes happening everywhere and people seemingly literally getting away with murder, question or wonder what is going on.  Like David, it is ok to talk with God to get His perspective on it.  While God is depicted as a lamb, He is also a lion filled with all power protecting those He loves.  He is steadfast, forbearing, and patient beyond our understanding:  “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9 (NASB)

Thus David gets his answers from God and finishes Psalm 10:

12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
    Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
    Why does he say to himself,
    “He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
    you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
    you are the helper of the fatherless.

15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
    call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
    that would not otherwise be found out.

16 The Lord is King forever and ever;
    the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that mere earthly mortals
    will never again strike terror.

In any and every situation good and bad we cling to our Father.  Not our earthly one but He who understands and sees what victims go through, therefore we – The victims commit themselves to you;  you are the helper of the fatherless.”   I know some people do not like to see themselves or call themselves the unpolitically correct term of victims. We like to say we are survivors.

But, if we understand that it is NOT our job as individuals to dole out justice, it is better to put ourselves under the wing of the protective eagle in the sky.  We are not to seek vengeance. We are not to repay.  In the world of law that is supposed to be the government’s job.  Obviously, that is not happening so I prefer to hand it all to God. 

I will continue to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

I will continue to make people aware that our justice system has pockets of brokenness and needs repair. 

I will continue to remind people about victims like Zaria Burgess and Sam Poloche.

I will continue to remind people to get their house in order because someday God is no longer going to sit by and give people a trillion more chances, someday He will repay Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath and His judicial righteousness; for it is written in Scripture, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”  Romans 12:19 (AMP)  He will do it for us, and, on behalf of Victims Everywhere!

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