The criminal trial process (see previous blog entry) wore me out, emotionally and psychically, and I decided on an early bedtime last night. I went to bed thinking about how comfortable my home is and how much I love it. I had my cat sleeping on the bed, a good book, these creature comforts that you normally take for granted. I then called my daughter at Texas Tech, and she told me she had made an 81 on a tough Geology test. I told her about how the trial had involved a group of 18-20 year old guys making very poor decisions, and how much I appreciated the fact that she has always used good judgment with regards to the people she had hung around during her teenage years and presently. I think I appreciated everything in a new way. And then this made me think of Kris McLarty, the defendant, now 21 years old, going to bed last night in a jail cell, realizing he was going to be in prison for the rest of his life. I couldn't stop thinking about him, and trying to imagine how he grew up. What decisions did he make that led him down this path? Who was there for him, to teach him about the value of life? He obviously didn't have a father, and his mother barely cared for him. It came out in testimony that when he was 16, living in Dallas with his mother, that he moved to New Orleans to finish his high school education, which he did. Was there some desire to get on the straight path? I wish prison was more rehabilitating, because I know it's not. Is anyone there going to care about him? Kris had apparently made a lot of poor decisions in his life, and this murder was the one that he didn't get away with. And neither did Juan Castillo, who lost his life.
Juan's young widow came up to the witness stand after the Guilty verdict had been delivered, for what is called the "impact statement". This was her chance to speak directly to the defendant, and let him know how the murder had affected the victim's family. She spoke very eloquently. Several of the jurors started to cry, and I had to fight back the tears myself, because it pushed all the buttons about parenting and children at all levels and about how simultaneously cheap and precious life can be. I was so grateful my two children, both in their 20's, had made the right choices about friends. Juan's widow mentioned that their daughter would grow up with a big void in her life because her father would not be there. This thought struck me two ways: sad that this girl wouldn't know her father, and sad that this daughter would one day learn that her father was killed in a drug deal, that amounted to $400. I feel sure it will be explained to her that is was all out of her father's love for her and wanting to support her and her mother. But would she see that it was poor judgment on her father's part? That he foolishly risked his family's welfare in this way? That pain will resonate for her in more than one way.