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commentary on the case of Samuel Compton and the late Cole Bailey Jr.

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  • Kevin Walsh
    From October 2004 to August 2005 I was in the custody of the Maricopa County jail system in the status of closed custody. This was essentially solitary
    Message 1 of 1 , May 26, 2007
      From October 2004 to August 2005 I was in the custody of the Maricopa
      County jail system in the status of "closed custody." This was
      essentially solitary confinement. For 23 hours per day I was confined
      to my single-occupancy cell, and for one hour I was allowed out in a
      "day room" in which there were no other people in which I could take a
      shower or use the telephone. Sometimes I would also spend part of that
      hour talking to those in other cells adjacent to the day room. One of
      those in the same pod with me was Samuel Compton (known as "Sammy" to
      us). Sammy was facing possible execution or life imprisonment for
      first degree murder, and he was often fed a punishment meal called "the
      loaf" for his frequent jail disciplinary infractions, but he was
      usually of a cheerful and talkative disposition. I was rather grim and
      morose by comparison, and it did cheer me to speak with him. Many
      times he seemed like a silly young man to me, but he did have his
      serious side. He was devoted to his Odinist faith and would often
      share with me his readings of the old Norse myths. He also convinced a
      guard to transfer a book of his to my cell. He knew I didn't have many
      books and that I like to read, so that was very kind of him. I don't
      remember the title, but it was a memoir of an Alsatian who was
      conscripted into the Wehrmacht and who fought on the Soviet front
      during the Great Patriotic War, and I did enjoy reading it.

      We also discussed at times the crime for which he has just been
      sentenced, the murder of Cole Bailey, Jr. in October 2002 outside a
      pool hall near the intersection of 7th Street and Bell Road in northern
      Phoenix. I have refrained from making public comments on those
      conversations until now, as it might be prejudicial to a pending case,
      and, as hearsay, would not be admissible as evidence anyway. From
      Sammy's comments, it was clear that Bailey was not initially part of
      the altercation that led to his death and that his victimization was
      mere circumstance. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
      Neither Sammy Compton nor the other two convicted of the murder knew
      Bailey until moments before they killed him, nor can they have had any
      grievance against him. They were skinheads, but he was white just as
      they were. He did not seek to participate in the altercation. He was
      simply standing outside the pool hall waiting for a taxi.

      According to Compton, what started the altercation was something
      trivial and idiotic. Two young women, girlfriends of the groups of
      skinheads in the pool hall, started slapping each other. Why they did
      I don't know, but the situation escallated when the security officer
      tried to intervene.

      Compton said that the told the security guard, "They're chicks. Stay
      out of it!" The guard insisted that he wouldn't have anyone fighting
      in the establishment, regardless of their gender. He tried to break
      the young women apart. Then Compton attacked the security guard, and a
      general melee broke out between the skinheads and the security staff.
      The skinheads were driven out of the pool hall, but for some reason
      that Compton either couldn't or wouldn't explain to me, they attacked
      the innocent bystander Bailey, who had never been part of the
      altercation and hadn't even been inside the building when it was

      I often say that there is rarely such a thing as senseless violence.
      Most violence has a rational purpose, even if one disagress with that
      purpose (e.g. the crackhead who mugs someone to get money for his next
      fix etc.) This truly was an incident of violence that was senseless.
      There was no rational reason for those three to have attacked Bailey.
      They may have had plenty of reasons to be angry, but not at him. I
      often think that is the fatal flaw of the skinhead movement--violence
      for the sake of violence, rather than violence rationally directed at
      the causes of out grievances. I don't think I've ever heard of a
      skinhead attacking a politician or a contractor who hires wetbacks or a
      Neocon propagandist. Maybe if they directed their violence more
      constructively, they would accomplish more and attract serious people.

      One thing the news coverage of this case has omitted over the 4 1/2
      years since the incident occurred is the occupation of the victim's
      father, Cole Bailey Sr. Bailey Sr. famously tracked down Whitley and
      convinced him to surrender and obtained information leading to
      Compton's arrest in Bakersfield in February 2003. Bailey Sr. is
      persistently portrayed as an heroic crime fighter. The news media
      don't mention that Cole Bailey Sr. owns a strip club in Scottsdale. He
      profits from the promotion of infidelity and pornography. While those
      who killed his son couldn't have known this, and it wouldn't justify it
      in any case, I think he would be a less sympathetic figure to the
      public if the public knew about that aspect of his life. If we had
      just laws in this country, he would also be spending a lot of time in

      The following news story, attributed to Arizona Republic reporter
      Michael Kiefer, was printed on pages B1 and B6 of the Saturday, 26 May
      2007 edition of the Arizona Republic. The first sentence of the story
      is perhaps the most absurd. It implies that being skinheads was the
      real crime of which the defendants were "suspected" and that murder was
      simply the only offense of which they could be convicted. Sammy
      Compton was pretty open with me about being a skinhead. He didn't make
      that a secret.

      --Kevin Walsh


      Man Was Fatally Beaten in Phoenix Parking Lot

      Two men suspected of being skinheads were sentenced to more than 20
      years in prison Friday for the 2002 stomping death of a young Phoenix

      Samuel Compton, 27, and Christopher Whitley, 25, were initially charged
      with first-degree murder. They were allowed to plead down to
      second-degree murder.

      The two men were sentenced separately. Compton received 22 years in
      prison and Whitley 21 years. A third man, Justin LaRue, 29, had
      already been sentenced to 16 years in prison.

      In October 2002, the three men were thrown out of a Phoenix bar and
      then took out their anger on Cole Bailey Jr., 20, who was waiting in
      the parking lot for a cab. The men kicked Bailey with steel-toed boots
      and beat him to death, officials said.

      The case gained national attention as Bailey's father, Cole Bailey Sr.,
      made it his mission to track down his son's killers.

      he hired private investigators, offered a $10,000 reward and even
      called White supremacist groups to see if they were harboring the

      Cole Bailey Sr.'s persistence paid off when he lured Whitley to a
      restaurant, spoke to him for 30-45 minutes and tried to persuade
      Whitley to turn himself in. Whitley was arrested by police.

      Bailey did not attend Friday's sentencing, however, and Whitley
      expressed his remorse to Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren

      "I don't have any excuses for my behavior that night," Whitley said.
      "I'm ashamed to stand here before you."

      Compton told the judge: "My intention that night was to beat someone
      up. I can't deny that. But I didn't intend to kill someone."

      Compton made an obscene gesture to the television cameras as he was led
      from court.

      The two men were tape-recorded in phone calls at jail laughing about
      Bailey's funeral and saying they were going to beat someone when they
      got to prison.

      Granville likened the men to "a pack of wolves following prey."

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