4 May 1999 – Manny Babbitt

Manny BabbittMixed sentiments seem to surround one of today’s subjects for execution.

US citizen Manny Babbit was both hero and villain and as such people were divided by his behaviour.

On the one hand, he was heroic in his service during the Vietnam War, where his actions as a Marine earned him a Purple Heart. On the other hand, his villainy emerged after he was caught having raped and assaulted a 78-year-old grandmother.

Babbit was found guilty and sentenced to death after his crimes led to the death of Leah Schendel, who had a heart attack brought on by the assault.

The perpetrator didn’t once deny the offence, instead he vowed that he couldn’t remember anything about it. It was put down to post-traumatic stress brought on by his active service. Indeed his defence was pinned on the idea that he disassociated himself from his act in what could have been a flashback to his days in Vietnam.

Death row

As in life his actions were mixed, so in death he was both hero and villain too. He died a criminal via a lethal injection in San Quentin Prison, on the day he turned 50. But he was buried a hero with full army honours, which of course was a further kick in the teeth to Leah Schendel’s loved ones. This row over whether a convicted death row criminal should have been honoured in such a way, led Schendel’s relatives to lobby the authorities to block any such occurrence again.

They won, but it was a hollow victory as their relative’s murderer had been hailed a hero. The flip side was that a man who had risked his life in defence of his country may have paid the ultimate price for his uncontrollable actions, brought on by the fallout of a destructive war.

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2 Responses to “4 May 1999 – Manny Babbitt”

  1. This is a story that has haunted me . This is Manny Babbit ! His birth name was ? His parents were who ? I never did find my younger brother . His mothers name was Gladdis Babbit of Foxboro and his father was Bernard McKay of Foxboro . Could this be the same person i am looking for ? Help me find out out PLEASE !

    • Manny's big brother Says:

      Manny Babbitt was born Manuel Pina Babbitt in Wareham, Ma.
      His father, Charles was born in the Cape Verde Islands. His mother Josephine was the daughter of parents who came to the U.S. from Cape Verde as well. I am his older brother Bill. For the record, Manny did not rape his victim. He served two tours of duty in the Marines not Army. He fought in 5 major battles and ended up in two mental hospitals after the war. The death penalty commission that studied the California death penalty ruled that Manny’s execution was “inappropriate”. My brother never meant to kill that night in Sacramento.

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