Cancer in the prison

Gerald Gallego has been on death row longer than some of his victims were alive.

Now, according to an article by Associated Press reporter Brendan Riley, Gallego is seriously ill with cancer and has been moved to Carson City's medium-security prison to receive medical treatment.

Gallego, now 55 years old, is usually referred to as the "sex-slave killer" because it's a handy tag for the brutal and horrific murders he committed, apparently simply for the thrill. He has been convicted of four murders and implicated in six more.

Most of his victims were teenage girls -- 17 years old, 14 years old. All had lives ahead of them cut short by a sadistic predator who was sentenced to death in 1984.

Gallego has survived the penal system, through appeals, for nearly 18 years now. Some of his appeals have had merit, it's true, but most have been ludicrous. As recently as 1999 he was resentenced to death, and last year the Nevada Supreme Court threw out an appeal.

Opponents of the death penalty have their examples of slipshod justice, their statistics on racial bias, their moral arguments against the state taking a life in judgment.

But death-penalty supporters have examples like Gerald Gallego who remind us vividly of the reasons society sometimes feels the need to rid itself -- permanently -- of the monsters among us.

Now it appears Gallego will live out his life in the care and feeding of the state of Nevada with the best medical treatment the prison system has to offer. If cancer takes him sooner than later, no tears will be shed for him.

If there are any tears left to be spilled by the families of his victims, let them fall on the occasion of the death of Gerald Gallego.

Then let those families have their peace. He'll be bound for hell.


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