Thursday, January 19, 2006

Just Anger but Unjust Revenge

My wife and I have developed a Larry King Show habit. I generally enjoy the content and I usually agree with King's opinion. Last night’s show is a complete exception. Last night King's principal guest was a woman who had shot and killed her father. The woman appeared to be at least 45 years old and the father was probably 70 to 75 years old at the time of his death. Along with the woman were her mother, two sisters and her lawyer. The woman had spent 17 months of a 7 year sentence in prison before she was paroled. The father was about as horrible a person as any could be. He physically and sexually abused his children and, in at least one case, a granddaughter. He abused his wife in every way - he even brought other women to his home. He made no attempt to hide his conduct and many of these acts were committed in front of some or all of the family. He was said to be a very poor provider and an alcoholic. He and his daughters' mother were never separated or divorced. All of his children were married and lived separately in the same area.

At the time of the killing the mother had recently been diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was very poor. As one would expect the father did not take care of his sick wife and she was finally removed from her home and placed in a hospital. This disregard for her mother angered the woman enough that she decided to kill her father.

At a later date, the woman armed herself and went to her father’s house to shoot him but found the doors locked. She took this as a sign that God did not want her to kill him. However, one month later she returned to the house and ignored the locked doors. She brought wine with which she got her father drunk. She then pointed the gun at her father’s chest and pulled the trigger. It did not fire. She pulled it two more times and still it did not fire. However, it did fire on the fourth attempt. The father fell on his back and said “now you’ve done it”. She told him that she agreed and then shot him a second and third time.

At the trial her lawyer pled for mercy because of the horrible treatment she had suffered as a child. The judge agreed and the charge was reduced to manslaughter from premeditated murder. She received a seven year sentence - the minimum required by law. In the case of family abuse parole is possible after serving one-quarter of the sentence. She was paroled after 17 months.

On King’s show all three daughters were still celebrating their father’s killing. The two that had not shot him admitted with smiles that they had been plotting to kill him together when their sister beat them to it. Although King stated at the closing of his show that he thought the daughter had done the world a favor, he had at least started to challenge why the killing was necessary. Even though the mother had witnessed many of the physical and sexual abuses, she never considered leaving her husband because of her wedding vows and she didn’t know how she would care for herself and her children. None of 4 or 5 children had been living with their father for at least 20 years.

The killing was neither self-defense nor in defense of anybody else. The killing didn’t occur in the heat of an emotional argument or fight. Although the father’s criminal and immoral acts were worse than most people would imagine possible, these acts had been committed more than 20 years ago. None of the children complained of threats by the father or fear of harm to them or their families since they no longer lived with him. Although the mother continued to live with her husband, she was not living with him when he was killed and during the last 20+ years she might have lived with one of her children had she wanted to and was offered the opportunity.

The daughter killed the father because she hated him for what he is and what he had done to her. The other children approved of his killing for the same reasons. The mother accepted the killing and seemed, in my opinion, emotionally uninvolved. She would not have killed him and she would never have asked somebody else to kill him but she accepted his killing.

Several people called into the show and all of them applauded the killing.

The children had more than enough cause to always hate their father. I believe they have plenty of reasons to ask why their mother had never acted responsibly by removing them from their father’s home instead of honoring her marriage vows. Since their father’s family knew of the abuses, why not ask why they did nothing to protect the children. In the last 20+ years while all of the children have been living on their own, did any of them offer their home and financial assistance to their mother?

This was murder - premeditated revenge. It was not a heroic act. It was criminal and immoral. The court has acted irresponsibly and by so doing has sent a message to everybody that in their town such acts will be more than tolerated.

Apparently their state government doesn’t approve of the local court’s decision. They have since modified their laws to ensure that such acts will not be so tolerated. I applaud the state’s response.