Thursday, October 11, 2007

Of Murder and Mercy....

We need to ponder forgiveness and contemplate the most unforgivable thing that could ever happen to us in our meditations. While we can never know how we will respond in reality, we need to measure our responses to the hypothetical against the Word of God. Jesus is the true measure by which we do that check.

Our Lord asked his Father in heaven to forgive those who drove the nails into his hands and beat his tired body, "for they know not what they do". Surely, he was not talking only about those present, physically hurting him. He was talking about all of us who pound those nails and beat his battered body each time we choose sin. Forgiveness is not only for Jesus, but for all of us and it is a true test of faith.

I recall Fr. Perrone teaching the lesson in his Catechism class that we may desire justice and have a right to see justice. However, we do not have a right to want revenge no matter how heinous the crime. Justice is well and good. Revenge is disordered and we should always examine our motives to discern if it is truly justice we seek interiorly.

Our friend Denise over at the Semper Fi Catholic Forum has sent me an update to a story I had no prior knowledge of, but felt it was worth digging into and passing along.

A grieving Catholic father in Texas, whose daughter was brutally murdered at an open house, has chosen to live the gospel to the fullest, teaching us just how far we must take mercy and forgiveness.

Sarah Anne Walker was a successful real estate agent and was found dead in a home she was showing, having been stabbed 27 times. A real estate blogger posts about the crime and the killer last year. After a two month search, 25 year old Kosoul Chanthakoummane was arrested. Another real estate blogger discusses the DNA match.

Sarah Anne's father, devoted wholeheartedly to the Divine Mercy, began to ask people to pray for the repose of the soul of his daughter, and for the killer. As the jury deliberated, the father prayed that the man not be sentenced to death. From what I understand, his sentencing is still pending. Daily, he prays the Divine Mercy chaplet for the man. From the Courier-Star in Texas

Joe Walker, Sarah Anne Walker's father, has made it clear he doesn't want Kosoul Chanthakoummane, the 27-year-old man convicted of murdering his daughter, put to death.

And he wants a chance to discuss the matter with Chanthakoummane's jury during the punishment phase of the trial, which starts today.

Walker told the McKinney Courier-Gazette in January that he hoped a jury wouldn't sentence him to death and that he spoke with the Collin County district attorney's office about his feelings on the issue.

"I don't believe that another death would do any good," he said in January.

He also said Chanthakoummane's attorney, Steven Miears, asked First Assistant District Attorney Greg Davis if Collin County District Attorney John Roach would consider a plea deal that would keep his client out of the lethal injection chair and in prison for life without the possibility of parole, according to an e-mail written by Davis to Mr. Walker.

"So I wrote him back, and said 'I would be for allowing him to plead out for life without parole, and I would be happy to discuss it,'" Walker said back in January.

Roach turned down the offer three days after Miears made his proposal, before Walker could discuss it with the DA's office,. Davis said in a released statement that the DA's office respects Mr. Walker's beliefs, but is implored to "consider the needs of the entire community in every case that comes before us n and those needs led us to pursue the death penalty in this case."

"I had told them I was against it when I talked to Greg," Walker said on Wednesday following the reading of Chanthakoummane's verdict. "Now I think I mentioned tomorrow I'm going to e-mail them to make a statement to the jury, a victim impact statement."

He said he can understand how someone else might not want the same fate for their daughter's killer if they were in his shoes.

"That may be hard to believe but it's the truth," Walker said. "Even at the funeral, before I knew who it was, I suggested everybody pray for the perpetrator every day, whoever did it, and I forgave him. Our Lord Jesus says to forgive and our Lord Jesus says in divine mercy, you have to show someone mercy if you expect some mercy and I very strongly believe that."

He said he continues to pray for Chanthakoummane and his family.

"I also pray for the Divine Mercy Chaplet for Kosoul every day and his family," he said. "I never miss it. I wrote him a letter that told him completely without any animosity whatsoever, that I forgive Kosoul. I didn't give it to him today because I wanted to wait for the verdict, but I'm going to give it to his attorney, one for him and his mother."

He also knows first-hand the suffering his family is experiencing as they await Chanthakoummane's fate.

"My daughter Jackie [Mull] is very upset and crying," Mr. Walker said. "My whole family was here to support me. My hero, Dr. William McCormick (Sarah's godfather), was here and he was very helpful because he shielded my family from all the pain and suffering."

Mull said in a statement on Wednesday that she hopes Chanthakoummane is executed.

But Walker also said if the jury decides to sentence Chanthakoummane to death, he will continue to fight for his life as appeals are filed on his behalf.

"I will do everything possible as long I live to prevent that [the death penalty]," Mr. Walker said. "As you probably know in many death penalty cases, the average is about 12 or 13 years before it [the execution] ever comes about. I will do everything possible to prevent that."
Sarah's father was not trying to avoid justice. He wanted a sentence of "life without parole". At the age of 14 years I became anti-death penalty. My conclusion was that if we have a system which can incarcerate people for life without parole, then I would rather such people have a life time to seek forgiveness and conversion. Every soul is precious to Our Lord. Heaven rejoices over the conversion of the greatest of sinners. There is mercy even for a killer, if he seeks it. Mr. Walker is serving as an instrument of God to lead this soul to conversion. May God reward him for his efforts and example.

Denise follows through with an update. Sarah's father is a regular contributor to the Semper Fi Catholic Forums, which is operated by Denise.

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