Tag Archives: murder

Never forgotten

We, or at least I, often never know the impact we, I, have on one another. Sometimes all it takes is showing simple kindness and decency.

She moved across the hall, clearly intent on talking to me before the meeting began. Although it had been years, I recognized her. She had taken part in a group working on prison-related issues. I had been the staff to the group. I recognized her. But I could not recall her name.

“Do you remember me?” she asked before we had a chance to shake hands.

I answered truthfully. “I do. But I am sorry, I don’t recall your name.” I took her hand.

She smiled and told me her name. I smiled back.

“I will never forget you,” she said.

I shifted my weight, a tad uncomfortable.

“I came to you with my husband in prison. In prison for murder. Murder he had done.”

I shook my head in agreement.

“I asked if I would be welcome at the group you were with. That group working on prisons and prisoners. I was nervous, so nervous, because my husband was guilty. I felt alone, so alone. I could not find a place to talk about my husband and what he faced. Not in my church. Not in my community. I was desperate for support. I thought that group might be a place. But I was scared. Scared they would not want me either. But I was more scared of being alone. I finally got up my courage and asked you.”

“I remember,” I replied. Somehow my throat had become dry all of a sudden.

Tears pooled in her eyes.

“And do you remember what you said?”

She did not give me a chance even to nod. “You did not hesitate. You said, ‘Of course you would be welcome.’ And then you said, ‘If anyone has a problem with me being there you would speak with them.'”

“I did,” somehow I scratched the words out. Her tears flowed freely.

“It turned out that no one had a problem. I found a place I could tell my story freely and where people accepted me and loved me. I found a family in that group. They stood by me and they stood with me when my husband died in prison. They were wonderful. But none of that would have happened without you. None of that would have happened without your kindness to me. I will never forget you. God bless you”

The dryness of my throat was exceeded only by the wetness of my cheeks. And since words would not come, I did what I rarely do, I opened my arms and offered a hug.

And we hugged and wept together for a holy moment.

When I regained control of my voice I said, “Thank you for telling me. I am sorry about your husband’s death.”

“He was a good man. He had his flaws. And one big one. But I did love him.”

I smiled. “I knew that every time you talked about him.”

She scuffed the floor a bit. “When I saw you tonight, I had to tell you. I will never forget you.” We shook hands, smiled, and went our separate ways.

I have never seen her since that night.

But I have never forgotten her.

See you along the trail.

 

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With an aching heart and a reeling mind

I grieve for Raymond and Doris Montgomery. In 1986, they were murdered in their own home in Trumball County, Ohio. Reports state that Raymond Montgomery, age 77, was stabbed five times with a butcher knife; 80-year-old Doris Montgomery, who was bedridden, was stabbed nine times.

Charles Lorraine was convicted of the murders of Raymond and Doris Montgomery and sentenced to death. The Montgomerys had paid him to do odd jobs. That adds to the horror.

Ohio will execute Lorraine on January 18 unless Governor Kasich commutes his sentence.

The vulnerability of the Raymond and Doris Montgomery makes my heart ache. Their willingness to help their killer deepens that ache. The brutality and cruelty of the crime makes my mind reel.

The pain and grief borne by the family and friends of Raymond and Doris Montgomery surpasses my imagination. My aching heart goes out to them.

There appears little evidence of doubt.

And yet, I have signed a petition asking Governor Kasich to take the step of commuting this death sentence. Executions dehumanize our society. Repaying violence with violence gets us nowhere; killing to demonstrate that killing is wrong makes no sense to me. It cuts off any possibility for reform or restoration. My opposition is to the state killing. It does not depend – it cannot depend on the person subject to execution.

I pray for Doris and Raymond Montgomery. I pray for all who love them.

I pray for Governor Kasich and all who make decisions of life and death on behalf of the state – on behalf of us all – on my behalf.

See you along the Trail.

 

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The only way? Execution scheduled in Ohio

The State of Ohio plans to execute Reginald Brooks tonight. He stands convicted of shooting his three sons while they slept. The crime occurred in 1982.

No questions seem to appear about his guilt. There is some argument about his mental competency. Prosecutors argue that his mental illness did not cause the murders nor does it make him incompetent. From an MSNBC report:

They say he planned merciless killings, bought a revolver two weeks in advance, confirmed he’d be home alone with the boys, targeted them when they wouldn’t resist and fled on a bus with a suitcase containing a birth certificate and personal items that could help him start a new life.

I grieve for his three sons: 17-year-old Reginald Jr., 15-year-old Vaughn, and 11-year-old Niarchos. I grieve for the potential that was lost when they were murdered. I grieve for their mother, Beverly Brooks, and all who loved them.

This is a horrible crime.

And yet I wonder – does killing someone to prove that killing someone is wrong really work? Is this the only way?

See you along the trail.

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Not knowing – knowing

A Texas court has stayed the execution of convicted murderer Henry “Hank” Skinner.

I do not know if he is guilty or innocent.

I know that he deserves every opportunity to prove his innocence – including DNA tests.

I do not know what that test will show.

I know that the murders of Twila Busby, Randy Busby, and Elwin Caler were horrific crimes, terrible violations.

I know that I grieve for them and all who love them.

I know that executing Hank Skinner will not bring them back, will not restore community; it will deny any possibility of rehabilitation for Skinner; it will be an act of violence that degrades our society.

See you along the Trail.

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Execution scheduled in Texas

I grieve for police officer Hector Garza, for Jessica Garcia, and for all who love them. They were killed more than a decade ago. Officer Garza was responding to a domestic dispute.

Frank Garcia, Jessica’s husband, was convicted of the murders. The State of Texas will execute Frank Garcia today unless a last-minute appeal proves successful. Reports say that Frank Garcia abused Jessica and she was attempting to leave him when the murders occurred. They also suggest that he was a gang member.

The appeal, according to published reports on the San Antonio Express Web page, raise the question of Garcia’s mental capacities.

Little or no doubt. A history of abuse. The murder of a wife. The murder of a police officer acting in the line of duty. Tragic, horrific realities.

Still I wonder. Beyond revenge, what will be served by Frank Garcia’s execution. Texas’ use of  the death penalty  did not deter him. Why do we think it would deter anyone else? It will not bring back Hector Garza. It will not bring back Jessica Garcia. It will remove any possibility, however slim, of Garcia’s rehabilitation. It will send the message that violence is the right response to violence. It will exact an eye for an eye and lead our society further down the road of brutality.

I pray for Frank Garcia. I pray for Jessica Garcia and Hector Garza and those who love them. I pray for our country.

See you along the Trail.

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Is this how we want to mark the International Day of Peace?

Without an intervention of some sort, Troy Davis will be executed by the State of Georgia tomorrow – September 21 on the International Day of Peace at 7:00 p.m.

I do not believe in the death penalty. I do not think it makes us safer. It does not bring anyone back. It rips the fabric of society – causing more wounds rather than working healing and restoration. It is rooted in vengeance – a lethal concoction of drugs injected into one’s veins in exchange for murder or rape or other capital crime. Such crimes are heinous. Monstrous. Evil. Unspeakably so. But there has to be another way, other ways, to respond than execution. As my friend Shannon points out, are the countries that use the death penalty really the company I want my country to keep?

All that aside, there is also the question of doubt in the case of Troy Davis. He was convicted, but since then: seven of the nine original witnesses have recanted or changed their testimony; many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements. Courts have ruled that Troy Davis’ innocence cannot be proved. But when does doubt reach the level of being “reasonable?” Does that level change after a person is convicted? Should the fact that the punishment is death affect what constitutes “reasonable doubt?” Does proving innocence trump reasonable doubt after conviction?

The NAACP provides a petition to ask Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm, who requested the death warrant against Troy Davis, to petition the judge to withdraw the death warrant against Troy Davis.

Amnesty International also provides an opportunity to contact the Georgia State Board of Pardon and Paroles.

I have taken both of those actions. In addition, I plan to fast tomorrow evening. And I will pray.

I will pray for Troy Davis and his family and friends.

I will pray for the family and friends of Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Officer MacPhail’s brutal murder was the crime of which Troy Davis was convicted.

I will pray for those who are in a position to stop this execution.

I will pray for those who are in the position of having to carry out this execution should it come to that.

I will pray for all people who have had a loved one murdered.

I will pray for all people who have had a loved one executed.

I will pray.

May God have mercy on us all.

See you along the Trail.

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