Dec 11, 2011

On Justice, Honor, Faith and Healing

Over the course of the last several day's friends and faithful readers alike have asked or e-mailed me: "Why haven't you written anything about the verdict yet?

The Verdict.

They are referring to the by now,  well publicized death penalty verdict that was thankfully, finally handed down by a jury to the man long considered the instigator and main perpetrator of the Petit family assaults, robbery and murders, Joshua Komisarjevsky.

The truth as to why I have been so slow in penning what at first glance seems like "great news" (as well the hard won result of years of hard work and diligence from State prosecutors) is at once 
simple and complicated.

The breadth and the depth of the feeling that has been coursing through my my heart, my mind and my soul,  since the announcement of the verdict two long days ago, has simply put -  overwhelmed me. It has managed to render me -  an avid wordsmith  - word-less.

Upon watching the verdict read aloud by the jury , on a large flat screen television screen  in a doctors waiting room no less,  I felt an enormity of things  -  But to express them was another story.

Some feelings, like relief and gratitude were easy to discern.

A reassured sense of gratitude to God  who I had been praying to fervently since LEARNING  about the Petit crimes, these crimes had struck a pained chord of such magnitude that I  have been literally consumed by them as well as emotionally invested in the procurement of justice, for these girls.

There was also of course a gratitude an appreciation for the twelve intelligent and sensitive Jurors, each one deigned with an enormous and weighty decision of such magnitude that many could not fathom having to make it.

On the other hand some would have jockeyed for the position.

One thing I can say certain is that these Jurors clearly took their jobs very, very, seriously.
They used a great deal of energy, time and intellectual wrangling in considering all evidence testimony and facts presented to them over a record 6 week penalty phase of the Komisarjevsky trial . 

They followed the Court 's instructions regarding mitigating and aggravating factors to a tee. And from everything that I have  read and heard, there was not one juror that made the decision to give Joshua Komisarjevsky the death penalty, easily and without a measure of emotional and moral difficulty. 

And this is all good.  This is not a decision that should be made with anything even resembling surety or ease. And this, this is how our Justice system is supposed to work.

Whether to give Komisarjevsky life in prison or the death penalty for his participation and culpability in the murders of Hayley, Michaela and Jennifer Petit will obviously have life lasting effects on a many people, some of whom  closest to the crimes, will be affected in drastically converse ways.

Sole survivor William Petit Jr. and his extended family members have been understandably and
rightly united in their desire to see this lifetime career felon, receive our State's most severe penalty for the murders of three of their beloved family members, two of whom were just beginning thier promising young lives.

Or,  as it was maddeningly expressed in courtroom legalese; "The commission of multiple "Capital Murders,  including the murder of a child under 12 years of age" , and capital murder involving multiple aggravating factors" 

Translated, this means that particularly brutal and cruel behaviors and actions were taken against the victims within the commission of these crimes; the convicted murderer's behaviors inflicted excessive suffering to the "victims". 

In human terms this was the brutal and cruel murders of three innocent human beings, including a teenage girl and a child of 11,  the latter sexually assaulted  by Joshua Komisarjevsky minutes before her murder komisarjevsky  the man who initially targeted Michaela, her mom and sister at an area Supermarket late on a summers day, following them back to their home in order to size it up for breaking and entering. 

These crime seemed to bring out the moral outrage of even the most liberally minded, politically restrained and emotionally level  individuals. For four and a half years now, I have heard what has almost become a mantra of sorts regarding the Petit crimes, the words coming
from all across the State and well beyond  even from other countries and continents. 

"I thought I didn't believe in the death penalty, but after this case, I' and my husband/ wife have changed my/our mind!."  Or Another common variant: "I wasn't sure if I believed in the death penalty but after learning about these crimes I now am certain that I want the Death penalty to remain and option for just this kind of crime"

There were thoughts and feelings that I was was trying to sort out after the verdict that were not as simple to pinpoint as relief and gratitude. Somewhere, in all of this was a central emotion that I couldn't find a word to describe. 

 It had no name. 

And this, this  was the reason that at the " end" of this struggle,  I now found it so difficult to put pen to paper so to speak; To express  myself aptly and coherently about this verdict and this enormous outcome of what began as a tragic event, an event that had such a profound affect on me, that it  virtually inhabited my mind my heart and  my soul for almost five years. 

 I plainly, just didn't want to get it wrong.

I could be lazy and simply say I was "glad" -  I was glad that the verdict came in as it did, but this did not seem right.  "Gladness" and/or "happiness" both seemed terribly wrong somehow, as if to to imply a happy ending" something so off - kilter that that it was almost akin to obscene.

So I took some time. 

It deserved that.
Prayer works wonders, and thinking and grappling with emotion, I came to a type of conclusion. Although the circumstances that brought this all to bear were so very tragic, the closest feeling that came to describing what I felt over this, it's formal conclusion, was a kind of sad satisfaction.

I was satisfied that the system that we have in place, as flawed as it might be, ultimately did it's job, it delivered the closest thing to Justice that it is allowed to deliver.
While this simple word doesn't perfectly fit nor relate the total essence of what was residing in my heart, maybe that too is part of the lesson here. Perhaps, for the most potent things in this life, there  are no words.

I can and will say that I feel proud.   I am proud of survivor William Petit Jr for setting the example that he has for other survivors of violent crime, as well his amazing display of strength and courage under such extreme circumstances and challenging times.

I know he has struggled,  I know he is not superman, and yet he made himself get up, and push his way through every single sunrise and sunset, managing to move forward, as he asked us to do during his family's now infamous memorial message; He did all of this and also managed to slowly build a charitable foundation in his family's memory, a foundation that's ultimately helped a a lot of people struggling with an array of  human suffering including victims of violence, folks living with chronic illness as well as subsidizing positive life outcomes for young women and girls.

We are all  proud of the entire Petit, Renn, Chapman and Hawke families, for their constant grace even under fire. their absolute faith,  courage and their dignity. These special people have set an example that many of us admire and aspire to.

And I'm also really proud of my fellow supporters" people, folks within the State of Connecticut and beyond  who through prayer, letters and well wishes have helped keep the Petit families spirits aloft.

 I personally have made e-mail and Internet friends from all over this country and beyond - in Canada, the UK and even Australia. This friend making and bonding has been an outcropping of other peoples desire to share their feelings, with my Blog's coverage of the crimes  acting as merely a catalyst. Other writings associated with crime legislation connected to these crimes and  issues within our Justice system that they ultimately got people involved in.

I've managed to make it to one of the Petit Foundation 5K Race day, and I have to say that the unity and abounding love was simply overwhelming. The caring, kindness and support that arrives from near and far, and the sheer force of human goodness and spiritual generosity, never ceases to feed my desire to continue to make a difference, to reach out, to always lend a hand, even when times are difficult within my own life. 

To see the collective outpouring of compassion and kindness just after the crimes, and almost simultaneously witnessing an ever growing, unwavering, stalwart support, was, and continues to be something truly magnificent to behold. A lesson in faith and humanity that it such a gift. 

In the end, the truth is that this one terrible act of evil ultimately wound up bringing so much good,  relentlessly caring and tenaciously loyal souls together .And i just have to say that from everything that I have learned about the Petit "girls", I sincerely believe that they have been part and parcel of this miraculous lesson in the pervasive goodness of the human spirit. Michaela Hayley and Jennifer brought us all back to what really matters; I thank them every day for this.

I believe today as I believed that first very difficult year after the crimes, that the candles that lit up the town of Cheshire on the the  "Cheshire Lights of Hope", although but one of many carefully orchestrated community events, that benefit the newly formed and very successful The Petit Family Foundation this one special night seems to best embody the sentiment that resides at the core of the P.F.F Mission Statement; That statement was taken directly from Michaela Petit's Facebook page; her favorite quote by Mahatma Gandhi.

"You must be the Change that you wish to see in this world"

"Be The Change"

  The Petit Family Foundation


Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog faithfully since the Petit murder trials, and admire you so much! I too, have been a victim of violent crime, and am doing my best to rebuild my life, all my best you and thanks for all you do!!

Laurel O'Keefe said...

Thank you hon, if you ever want to talk, my email is within my profile to the upper right of the blog! I am glad to hear that you are managing to rebuild your self this r