Monday, June 2, 2008

A Difficult Conversation

From yesterday's New Hampshire Union Leader:

Today marks the 20-year anniversary of Renny Cushing's father getting gunned down when he answered his front door in Hampton.

"Nothing prepares you to have a family member murdered," Cushing said in a recent phone interview.

"It challenges a lot of assumptions about your life," he said. "Part of what you have to do is claim control over your life."

Two neighbors, former Hampton police officer Robert McLaughlin Sr. and his wife, Susan, were convicted in the June 1, 1988, murder of Robert Cushing Sr.

Cushing did get to talk to Susan McLaughlin, who is serving a life sentence for accomplice to first-degree murder. Her husband was sentenced to life without parole.

"It was a difficult conversation, but I'm glad I did it," Cushing said. "I had some simple little questions I wanted answered and I wanted to move on. Some I got answered and some they weren't capable of giving answers."

The governor and Executive Council unanimously rejected Susan McLaughlin's request for a pardon hearing in 2003.

Cushing was part of the initial team that help set up the Victim-Offender Dialogue program in the state Corrections Department in 2002. He understood how difficult it was to try to reach his father's killer.

"That in itself was a bit of a journey to get through the bureaucracy," said Cushing, executive director of the Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, which lobbies against the death penalty.

Read the entire article.

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