Thousands sign petition to publicly hang West Virginia man accused of raping, murdering baby girl

HUNTINGTON, W. Va. -- A petition to publicly hang Benjamin Taylor, the West Virginia man accused of brutally sexually assaulting a 10-month-old girl who died Wednesday, has been signed tens of thousands of times.

"Prison is too good for child rapists and their ilk. I would move to say that our 'justice system' is even a part of the problem, in that incarceration is hardly justice when it comes to such an awful act," wrote J.R., who created the petition Tuesday. "Let us hang these creatures publicly. Let us make examples of them, and allow the American people to attend these hangings so that the accused may be ridiculed."

As of Friday morning, more than 51,000 people signed the petition on the White House's "We the People" site to publicly hang Taylor. It needs to reach 100,000 signatures by Nov. 4 in order to receive an official response from the White House, according to the website.

West Virginia abolished capital punishment decades ago, though another case spurred one state lawmaker to promise that he would introduce legislation to bring the death penalty back to the state in the next legislative session, West Virginia Metro News reported.

The petition to hang Taylor, 32, was started one day after he was discovered with his girlfriend's severely injured baby in the basement of the apartment they shared.

Emmaleigh Elizabeth Barringer was naked, covered with blood and unconscious when she was found by her mother, according to the baby's aunt.

At the time the petition was posted to the "We the People" site, Emmaleigh had already been pronounced brain dead. She died the following day from her injuries, which were described by family members as "extensive."

Taylor was initially charged with one count of first-degree sexual assault, but a murder charge was added after the girl’s death, Jackson County Sheriff Tony Boggs told West Virginia-area television station WSAZ.

Boggs described the case as one of the worst he’s seen in his career.

“I have not and hope to never again,” he said. “I don’t know of any normal human that could fathom what would possess somebody to do that.

A vigil for Emmaleigh is scheduled for Friday night in Pasadena, Maryland, according to a GoFundMe page set up by the family to help cover funeral costs. The infant's funeral will take place on Oct. 17.