Friday, December 22, 2006

The power of peace

The Appalachian Trail killer, Paul David Crews, was resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole yesterday in Perry County after the district attorney's office decided to stop fighting the appeals. Crews had a legitimate claim for a least a new sentencing hearing since his trial attorney failed to present evidence of an abusive childhood.

What struck me as I read about this, though, was not the information about the defendant but the info about the families of the two victims. Here are the first four paragraphs from today's Patriot News story:
NEW BLOOMFIELD - The father of one of Paul David Crews' victims forgives him for raping and killing his daughter.

The mother of Crews' other victim said she doesn't hate him.

In May 1991, Crews, a drifter from South Carolina, was sentenced to die by lethal injection for killing Geoffrey Hood, 26, of Signal Mountain, Tenn., and Molly LaRue, 25, of Shaker Heights, Ohio, on the Appalachian Trail in Perry County.

"I am here today to offer you forgiveness for what you have done," Jim LaRue told Crews yesterday. "Peace be with you, brother. Peace be with you."

Later in the article, it again comes back to Mr. LaRue:
Jim LaRue said he hoped Crews eventually talks and gives some insight into his mind as a way to give his life meaning. He compared the good it might do to his daughter's job helping troubled children.

"She would have wanted that from you," said LaRue, who opposes the death penalty. "You are a gold mine of critical information that needs to be unearthed."

As a father, the idea of losing my only child to violent crime is incomprehensible. And yet I am always struck by people like Mr. LaRue and my good friend Walt Everett, who have found a way to find peace after the deaths of their children.

Death penalty supporters sometimes pull out the line that goes something like, "You would feel differently if someone in your family was killed." I don't know what I would feel in that situation, but I would hope that the best of me, my buddha nature, would shine through.

There are a few well-known victims' families, who shall remain nameless, whose public personas are that of anger and rage. Of course, those emotions would inevitably be a part of the grieving process, but I feel sad for those folks that they still feel that way (or at least portray it publicly) 25 years later.

Jim LaRue, Walt Everett, and victims' family members like them have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration from me.

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At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every time I have had the occasion to see a news story filming a statement given at a sentencing hearing, I am dismayed by the venom, the anger, and the revenge in the words and manner of the victim's family. While I understand the feelings, that footage is not as newsworthy as the carefully chosen and compassionate words of Jim LaRue. His words give me as hope as they give him peace. Thanks Jim.

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew Molly and Geoff, and I know they were big proponants of Peace. Their work with young people was a display of that passion. BUT they were also believers in justice and consequences. I have no animosity toward their murderer, but I do feel he should have been quietly and respectfully removed from society. As a taxpayer, to continue to pay for his upkeep is an injustice, and the message that a murderer is "deserving" of accommodation is what makes me angry.

At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I testified in this trial. The actions of this monster haunt me to this day. Looking for closure I decided to see if his sentence had been carried out. I am dismayed that he gets to live in relative comfort with free room and board. He has been rewarded for his crimes and punished.


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