Monday, October 13, 2008

Nothing Could Have Prepared Us

Returning to our series, here is the statement that Kim Crespi delivered at the "Prevention, Not Execution" event in San Antonio on October 3. Other posts from that event began last week.

On January 19, 2006, the Crespi family was a happy group of 7. Jessica was a high school senior, Dylan an eighth grader, Joshua a fourth grader, and 5-year-old Tessara and Samantha were happy, active, loving identical twin girls in preschool. Their father, David, was a responsible and loving husband and father who had been dealing with recurring episodes of severe insomnia that that each time led to anxiety and then depression. Each time, we sought help, listened to advice, went to therapy, and followed the prescribed medication. We were not warned about potential side effects of medication, particularly the possibility of mania and psychosis.

Nothing could have prepared us for what happened the next day. After yet another night of inadequate sleep, David stayed home from work. The twins were home that day as well. I left the house for an hour and fifteen minutes and returned to a police barricade and the horror that David, while in a psychotic state, had killed the girls, called 911, and was already in custody.

The criminal justice system took over. David’s defense attorneys advised him to accept a plea rather than go to trial. They explained that his actions did not fit the legal definition of insanity, and said that a trial would be hard for all of us. We knew a trial would be grueling, but we would have considered going through with it if the state had not made it clear that they were seeking the death penalty for David. If we went to trial, we would be risking David’s life too. The threat of the death penalty convinced us to accept the plea that the state was offering, even though we knew that meant a sentence of life without the possibility of parole and no opportunity to look more deeply into what might have caused this tragedy to happen.

I miss the twins every day. Obviously, my other children and I are forever changed by this terrible loss. But it is devastating enough to cope with the fact that David was responsible for the twins’ deaths and that he is now in prison with back-to-back life sentences. Adding to this list of losses by executing David would only make things worse for me and for our children. It is hard enough for them to understand that their loving father, in an uncontrolled psychotic state, killed their baby sisters. Trying to understand how reasonable, non-psychotic people would now choose to take their father’s life would create another layer of distrust and tragedy that certainly would do nothing to aid in their healing.

I am here today with other family members of murder victims, feeling our shared losses. I am here today with family members of people who have been executed, deeply aware of how close our family came to suffering that additional loss too. And I am here with others who are family members of both the victim and the person responsible for the crime, saying that the death penalty is not the way to respond to tragedies like ours.

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