April 25, 2019 | 54° F

WANG: Eye for eye may be best way to address issues of justice

Opinions Column: A Third Person Perspective


The entirety of 2017 to 2018 has been a tumultuous fight for the recognition of human rights and human decency. It seems like the nation’s attempt to enlighten others about the struggles we all face only demonstrates the overwhelming injustices that plague our country and regresses even further from being able to actually prevent any of it. From deaths resulting from hazing, to the Stanford rapist's joke of a sentence and then to thousands of women all over the world outing monsters that abused them — this notorious disregard for human life has only reached an even grosser peak as of February 2018. Right as we ring in the new year, a 19-year-old man named Brian Roberto Varela has committed a notoriously heinous crime, which becomes even scarier when you look into his soulless, remorseless eyes that feel nothing about his murder of Alyssa Mae Noceda. 

Noceda was an 18-year-old woman that sought comfort from her acquaintance, Varela, after a breakup. Varela provided Noceda with a line of Percocets to snort, and then she was also provided with a “dab,” or liquid THC. Noceda immediately fell unconscious and she began to overdose, and as her lips were turning blue, Varela decided to send snapchats of her naked body to his friends and his text read: 

“I’m smashing her to pass the time.”

As if that did not bring up the bile in your throat, friends of Varela alleged how he boasted being unsure whether Noceda was alive as he ejaculated into her body. Not only do we have a case of opioid overdose and an inherent lack of respect for life that extends even greater than words that the English language can describe, Varela was then “too tired” to bring his victim to a hospital. Instead, Varela woke up to a dead woman, and decided to break Noceda’s legs in order to fit her into a crate in order to bury her. The extent of Varela’s lack of remorse is jarring when you realize that he also used the finger of Noceda’s dead corpse to unlock her phone and have her family think that she simply ran away. 

The 19-year-old murderer has been charged with first-degree manslaughter, second-degree rape and controlled substance homicide. But it is people like Varela that make you question the validity behind the states who choose to abolish the death penalty. How can you even say to Noceda’s family that Varela is a person? How can you even say that he deserves to be treated with respect like any other individual while waiting conviction, when his actions are beyond the principles of any human being? 

Certain actions follow consequences. These “consequences” almost imply a sense of understanding that follows being reprimanded. Sometimes, though, certain actions call for dire consequences that ensure people like Varela cannot inflict that kind of pain on another person again. What exactly are we trying to accomplish by keeping people like him alive? What exactly are we trying to do by using tax money to keep a man who is so far beyond rehabilitation alive and staying in prison? Why are we obligated to house him in a place where prisoners have the right to healthcare when he decided to deny Noceda of any help in the first place? 

I spent the entire night looking at pros and cons lists of the death penalty. Simple, I am aware, but I think it is time that we sparked another discussion in our country about what to do with people like Varela, in which there is beyond reasonable doubt of his murderous actions and intent. While Washington still has the death penalty in effect, in regard to states that reject it, such as New Jersey, I am not voicing for torturous methods for those on death row. I am not asking for any barbaric methods that extend their suffering any more than their inevitable death if the death penalty were to be in effect for all 50 states. I am simply not being too cautious about trying to find the most “humane” way for people like Varela to die, because nobody’s sympathy extends that far for him. 

This country abides strongly by the Latin principle of “Lex talionis,” in which its eye-for-an-eye principle emphasizes the necessity of a punishment that corresponds to the level of injury one inflicts. You cannot tell me that is not true, with our country’s notoriously high incarceration rates, and while I am extremely aware of the seeming immorality of killing people, help me out here: 

How is it any more moral allowing people like Varela to live when Noceda is not breathing anymore?

Ashley Wang is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in English and minoring in philosophy. Her column, "A Third Person Perspective," runs on alternate Mondays.


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Ashley Wang

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