Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Until my sister's murder ...

Here's an excerpt from Nancy Filiault's testimony before the New Hampshire death penalty study commission last week. Nancy's sister, Kitty, and her sister's two young children were murdered in their home in 2000.

Everyone involved with my sister's case thought the jury would choose death, I prayed for a sentence of life in prison, yet It makes me physically ill to think that this jury spared his life; he did not spare my sister's life or her children's. ...

Because I did want the absolute worst punishment for my sister's murderer, if I don't believe in the death penalty as the ultimate punishment, does that mean I value a murderer's life more than my sister's? No, I value life and having the death penalty as law makes me as a victim have to choose, and makes me no different than a murder if I choose death. I believe my sister's jury was unable to make that choice. We as a society need to take that choice away. Killing is wrong in any way, shape, or form. Killing is breaking the law and even our judicial system should not live above this law. People who think the death penalty is closure for the victims are misguided. A death penalty sentence is never ending and rarely are executions carried out. The appeals process is very well known to be the defense lawyer's way of keeping the case going. And traumatize victim's family.

The death penalty never brings closure. There is no closure and there never will be any. There is only life after murder for the victims' families. We learn to live with it. I choose not to live my life with anger about my sister's murder. It takes a lot of energy and work to be angry. Life is too precious and anger leads to violence.

Until my sister's murder I always thought that I was for the death penalty. I thought people who kill other people should have to die themselves. And then someone killed my sister and two of her beautiful babies. My heart broke. Killing is so senseless. All killing needs to end. The death penalty makes us all murders. We kill people who kill? This is not the lesson I want to teach my children.

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