My great nieces were murdered almost fourteen years ago. Their murderer entered a plea of guilty, by reason of insanity. This plea meant we all had to face the murderer in court and sit through two weeks of testimony, not to determine the murderer’s guilt, but the sanity level of that person.
Fortunately, the murderer’s attempts to manipulate psychiatrists into believing the deaths came as a result of momentary insanity failed, and the jury returned a verdict of guilty of first degree murder, no chance for parole. They deliberated for many hours, while my family and I paced the hallways of the courthouse. When we stepped back into the courtroom, my nephew–the father of the girls–shook from the tension, the grief, the fear of what might come. When the verdict was read, his knees buckled, and my brother and I grabbed him on either side to hold him upright.
I’ve listened to the trial peripherally because everything said about the insanity plea, the excuses, the reasons, and now the verdict brought back the horror of that time. This morning I hear everyone talking about “justice” and the peace the verdict will bring.
Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is gone, never to return. What is justice for that?
My great nieces, Candice and Kimberly, died at ages ten and five, respectively. They remained dead after the verdict.
There was no justice, no relief, no peace.
In our case, the verdict came with the knowledge that the person who murdered Candice and Kimberly was a cold-hearted “insane” person who gave birth to them, raised them for a few years, and then decided they shouldn’t live any longer, while she stood living and breathing trying to cover up what she’d done.
Yes, their murderer was their mother, a woman who was once a part of our family.
The only justice would be if Candice and Kimberly were here with us so we could celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings, and life. That sadly will never happen.
Today my heart goes to the family of Chris Kyle. To them I say, the grief will remain, but the memories of good times will prevail and time will ease the intensity of the pain and the grief that comes from the loss of a loved one.
I’m a writer, but this story is one I do not want to write. This morning the emotions and memories of that time spent in a courtroom in Grand Haven, Michigan, came flooding back, and I know in my heart the peace and justice that others seeks will not come from the jury doing the right thing. It will come from within, and forgiveness, as difficult as it may come, will help fight the anger and frustration.
Hug those close to you. Create memories each and every day. And don’t let a day go by where you don’t tell those closest to you that you love them.