Darts and laurels

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 30, 2011

Laurels to the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, which has helped free two inmates serving sentences for a crime they didnít commit. Robert Wilcoxson and Kenneth Kagonyera were serving life sentences for a 2000 murder that occurred during a home invasion robbery in Buncombe County. Coming only a day after the execution of Georgia inmate Troy Davis, who maintained his innocence to the end, the release of the N.C. inmates highlights the work of the commission, which was created in 2005 to examine innocence claims and previously reviewed the case of Gregory Taylor, freed after serving 16 years for murder. It also illustrates why N.C. lawmakers shouldnít rush to approve a bill that would prohibit the commission from reviewing cases of inmates who plead guilty. Wilcoxson and Kagonyera said they entered guilty pleas in order to avoid the death penalty. DNA evidence that would have ruled them out as suspects was available at the time, but inexplicably was not made available to the defense. The commission should be free to decide which cases to review based on evidence and testimony, not on how a suspect originally pled when confronted with the possibility of execution.

Dart to contaminated cantaloupes and the latest disease outbreak spurring concerns about the safety of the nationís food supply. Thus far, Listeria-tainted cantaloupes from a Colorado farm have been linked to 16 fatalities and dozens of other illnesses. Food and safety officials rightfully point out that such episodes represent a tiny fraction of the food chain, and the FDA, CDC and other agencies have improved their detection and response systems in the wake of past contamination scares. But the cantaloupe case underscores how a national food distribution network can spread potentially tainted produce far and wide, making it hard to track exactly where the suspect items have been sold. Thatís one more reason to favor fresh, locally produced vegetables and fruits, grown and harvested close to home. Meanwhile, if you have any doubts about the safety of cantaloupe (or any other consumable) in your home, the CDC has this simple guideline: If in doubt, throw it out.

Laurels to the high drama accompanying the end of regular season play in Major League Baseball. Yes, thereís wailing and gnashing of teeth in Braves and Red Sox country following those teamsí monumental collapses in the playoff races. But for high drama and suspense, you canít beat coming down to the final day of the season with two wildcard spots hanging in the balance. This will go down as the season where the baseball world experienced September Insanity that matched the intensity of March Madness.