The trial that has forever changed my opinion of the justice system is over. Tonight, around 9pm, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison for murder. I signed the page that sent the 18-year old to prison for, at a minimum, the next 20 years.
It was the right decision.
It was a hard decision.
I remember, as a child, when my mother would spank either my brother or me. She would pull us into her lap after she spanked us and, usually with tears in her eyes, talk to us about why she spanked us. She would always say to us, “I never want to do that again.” She communicated very clearly that spanking us was not her first choice. It was an unpleasant necessity that she would not choose if it were not the appropriate consequence for our behavior. And she would always communicate how it grieved her to spank us – even though it was justified.
I can sleep tonight knowing that, to the very best of my ability, I helped that young man have his day in court. The verdict rendered was based solely on the evidence presented and not on any bias or pre-arranged assumption any of the jurors had. His punishment was achieved by concensus between all 12 jurors.
Hopefully, this young man will recognize his part in the events surrounding this horrible affair and see the next years for what they were intended: a consequence for his crime, a deterrent from future crime and an opportunity to learn how to change his behavior so that he can become a successful member of society.
While we have denied him forever more the basic freedoms that we, as Americans enjoy; we have by no means denied him his life.
I imagine his face and name will be forever burned into my memory. I imagine the tear-streaked face of his brother and the soft spoken voice of his mother will stay with me long after the trial leaves the headlines. I imagine the testimony of the dead man’s broken-hearted father will echo in my mind for many years to come.
It was one of the hardest weeks of my life but it’s over and I think I’m a better person for it. I know that we were diligent in considering the aspects of the case and subsequent punishment for the crime.