Victoria Coward remembers hearing the gunshots ring out from Edgewood Park, not far from her New Haven, Conn., home in June 2007. Later that night her worst fears were realized when detectives knocked on her front door.
Her 18-year-old son, Tyler, was dead from gunshot wounds to the head and chest.
Two years later, when police arrested and charged Jose Fuentes-Pillich, a 23-year-old who she thought was Tyler’s friend, Coward had already joined a campaign against the death penalty.
When she contacted Fuentes-Pillich after his conviction in 2010, she explained why she didn’t wish him dead.
“I told him it would be wrong for me to say, ‘You should die.’ That’s not in me. That’s in God’s hands … the first thing I need to do is forgive you for taking my son’s life,” Coward recalled in an interview with The Crime Report.
Connecticut became the 17th state to abolish the death penalty in April. As opponents step up their national campaign, they are discovering some surprising allies among people like Coward — challenging the long-held stereotype that the families of murder victims automatically support capital punishment.
Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (MVFHR) is an international organization, based in the United States, of family members of victims of criminal murder, state execution, extra-judicial assassinations, and "disappearances" who oppose the death penalty in all cases.
Contact us at 89 South St, Suite 601, Boston MA 02111
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