The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Ronald Ryan was Innocent

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/13/2014 Category: People
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 614 times Debate No: 54576
Debate Rounds (1)
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Ronald Ryan was an innocent man, hanged in 1967. (Last in Australia to be hanged.)
They say that he shot a police officer in the heart right after his prison escape. There was never any evidence - forensic nor verbal - that proved he was innocent/guilty. During the trials, he never hinted any signs of guilt and he passionately stuck with the statement that he was innocent.

Many victims of the law, who have afterwards been proved innocent, have passed away; they have been hanged. The law was their murderer, and the guilt of the crimes lies on the public conscience. Capital punishment is absolutely worthless as a deterrent to crime. This could have been the case for Ryan, as well.

One man, named Peter John Walker, was Ryan's accomplice in this prison break. Recently, he has stated that he is so sure that Ryan was innocent and that he didn't kill the officer, because Walker himself had JAMMED Ryan's gun prior to the incident.


Ladies and gentlemen, welcome.

Now, before we begin we must be aware of several factors that might well change the outcome of this debate. For one we must define the terms, and the burden of proof. What my opponent must have done in his single round to win.

The resolution is simply: “R.R was innocent.”

In this simplistic form we have a positive statement. We have a claim that needs proving. My opponent has a burden of proof. He thus needs to prove, without doubt, that R.R was innocent. He needs to have shown irrefutable evidence that it was in deed not R.R that fired the final shot. All I need to do is to show that whatever arguments Pro is offering can be questioned enough to make them invalid. I need not prove he is guilty, I only need to question Pro's argument. Should we begin?

What has my opponent offered?

In analysis my opponent only offered 4 arguments, in chronological order:
-There was never any evidence
-He never hinted any signs of guilt
-a moral argument (many victims of law)
The gun was jammed

-There was never any evidence

For the first argument we can see that <even if> there w against Ronald. Ronald however is directly responsible and guilty of the following charges:

-any crimes prior to his arrest and sentence to the prison.

-planning and executing a prison break.

-threatening to harm a prison guard and stealing his rifle.

-using a prison chaplain as a human shield (taking him hostage).

-Seriously injuring said chaplain with the end of the rifle.

-Causing public terror as he waved said rifle around trying to stop traffic and obtain a car.

-pointing the gun at innocent civilians.

-Threatening Hudson with the rifle. [possibly killing him]

-Grand theft auto.

In less than an hour or so Ryan along with Walker had committed over 8 federal crimes. That isn't innocent by far. In a state where capital punishment had been given out on occasions such as burglary, sheep stealing, forgery, sexual assaults and once, 'being illegally at large' whatever that meant, along with murder and manslaughter, I'd reckon that nearly fatally injuring a chaplain, stealing a car, threatening a federal officer and prison escape would have triggered a hanging cause none the less. Ronald was desperate, he had already harmed someone. What stopped him from shooting the guard that was holding his accomplice captive?

Ryan was by no means innocent, he had at that point a long trail of crimes, he was desperate to escape. He did however admit to a respected prison guard later at the trials that he had not intended to kill the man, only stop him.

Was he innocent? No. He knew the risks of planning an escape of a high leave prison, he knew that there was a high probability of someone getting hurt and had he not pointed the gun at Hudson or tried to proceed with the escape nobody, no matter who it was, would have shot anyone and everyone would have lived. Ryan had plenty of opportunities to prevent the murder and he chose not to, he chose to instead break an increasing amount of federal law in order to have an ill-fated glimpse of freedom that he knew would be short lived. He knew that his head would become wanted as soon as he stepped out of the prison yard, he knew that he'd eventually be turned in and captured and he knew that the escape would be unsuccessful. Yet, he carried on with it. He had a year to plan it, and as such he was well aware what could happen and was ready to deal with that risk. As such anything that happened during that prison break was completely his fault. He wasn't innocent. He was a lot of things, but he was not innocent.

-He never hinted any signs of guilt

My opponent then brings up his behaviour in the courtroom. Saying that someone that defends his name and does not act guilty in a court of law is as valid as stating that anyone that pleads “not guilty” is innocent and as idiotic as saying “a psychopath is always innocent because he cannot show remorse.”

Ryan's behaviour in court only signal his devotion to not ending up in jail again. A man's ability to hide his guilt is completely irrelevant to his actions. In addition to the fact that my opponent did not cite any sources for this is borderline fallacious reasoning.

-a moral argument (many victims of law)

The third argument does not relate to Ryan in any way. It is a moral argument designed to bring voters to a moral or emotional decision instead of a rational one. As it has no direct relations to the debate it can and should be ignored and dismissed by voters.

-The gun was jammed

The last argument that my opponent brought up was a cited testimony that states:
“I know the gun had jammed because I bloody well jammed it,"

There we see Walker, Ryan's fellow escapee, state in an interview that the gun must have been jammed on the account that he himself had jammed it. This is all fine and dandy, but it doesn't hold up simply because Walker never had any time to do so nor did he have access to the gun at any point during the break.

Reading into my sources reveals that Ryan was the one that grabbed the gun from the guard tower. He then uses it to force the guard to open the gate and later uses it to injure the chaplain. He still has it when they get to the road and starts threatening passing civilians to gain use of their cars. Nowhere did Walker ever gain control of the rifle and nowhere did he ever manage to jam the gun. We can then safely assume that Walker is lying here or is misremembering the event.

Forensic evidence later revealed that 6 out of 7 bullets could be accounted for from Ryan's rifle. That seventh bullet must have left the gun at some point and that alone should indicate that the gun wasn't jammed, and as such could well have been the murder weapon in the case my opponent is presenting.

To conclude

Out of the few arguments my opponent offered we can see that none of them successfully hold enough proof to show that, without doubt, Ronald Ryan was innocent. My opponent neglected the 37 witnesses that testified against Ryan, he has not convinced us that Ryan would not have hung even if he had not killed the officer on the grounds of the other federal crimes he had committed in the escape itself.

My opponent has not fulfilled his burden of proof in my opinion. He has only shown that his court case was vague at best, but he has not proved without doubt that Ryan was innocent. For Ryan was not innocent. Ryan had committed grave crimes, he attempted escape, he threatened a federal officer and injured a man of God. Ryan was not innocent for a lot of reasons and a lot of crimes, and that is why the resolution on its own has been negated.

I thank Pro for the debate.

Debate Round No. 1
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago

An interesting debate that I wish had been more than 1 round. There was no chance for Pro to respond to Con's criticisms.

I'm a bit curious on a point of the law, which no side brought up: In some jurisdictions, those in the process of committing a felony are responsible for all things that happen during the commission of that felony. Thus, if someone is even accidentally shot during a bank robbery, the robbers are guilty of murder. That would have definitely impacted the vote had it been brought up. Con brought up that RR was definitely not fully "innocent", but did not bring this point up.

In the end, though, Pro's strongest point in support of his own BoP was the "gun jammed" point. Con rebutted it, and Pro never got a chance to respond. Thus, Pro failed in his BoP, and arguments to Con.

As always, happy to clarify this RFD.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.