Attending the court sentencing of the young man involved in the death of our son ranks right up there with some other agonizing milestones we’ve faced. Police at our door at 5 a.m. Identifying the body. Ironing a shirt for Paul to be buried in.
As an answer to the prayers of many on our behalf, we are spared the pain of the Defense suggesting Paul was suicidal. They have abandoned entirely the false evidence of a suicide note purportedly written by him. We are grateful for that.
There are other realities to face. Because of the defendant’s running from court in January, when this whole case was to have been completed, he has been in Remand since being caught in February. And because of crowded conditions in Remand, time served there can be counted 1.5 to 2 times towards whatever he will be sentenced. Added to that, eligibility for parole could be factored in. Subtracting all this from a two year sentence (or so) could mean the young man will be released shortly.
We are aware of this.
Today may be the day we will read the victim impact statements we wrote prior to the opening of the case in January. They were written from our hearts with attitudes of forgiveness. The legal maneuvers and manipulations since then have sorely tried that forgiveness. But we know that because God has forgiven us so much, we are under obligation to offer forgiveness to those who sin against us.
Whatever the sentence, it can never pay for what we have lost. Some have asked why we would want to see the defendant go to prison at all. To answer that, we have drawn on scripture and thought long and hard. All lives matter. They matter intrinsically, and not just because of the contribution they make or because they were precious to us. Since Paul’s life mattered, our society and justice system must in some way recognize the value of that life. There must be some consequences for a death caused by carelessness and deceit.
Today we are trusting God for a legal recognition of the intrinsic value of our son’s life. We know that whatever sentence is given and whatever time is ultimately served, it will never come close to reflecting Paul’s value. For now, in this life, we will have to be content with that. But some sort of punishment will tell the world that human life has inherent worth.
And if you’re reading this before 2 p.m. MST, please pray for us.