Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More on Levi King

by Pa Rock
Social Commentator

I wrote a piece for The Ramble on October 7, 2009, regarding Levi King, a young man who has been sentenced to life in prison in Missouri for killing two people there, and also sentenced to life in prison by Texas for killing three people there and attempting to kill a fourth. I understand that Levi is still in jail in Texas, but will soon be transferred to Missouri where he will serve out the remainder of his sentence and his life.

Levi is a cold-blooded murderer, and that fact cannot be glossed over by any argument or clever justification. Indeed, he pled guilty in both states. The only judicial deliberations were over the sentences that the two states would impose. That was how I got involved. As a former social worker associated with Levi and his family as he was growing up, I was called to Lubbock to testify about the conditions of his youth. I was on the stand three and a half hours.

The jurors in Texas spent five weeks listening to people who knew Levi and his family through the years. They were shown a comprehensive picture of a little boy with a bright smile who slowly, and almost predictably, was transformed into a monster. Each day for five weeks the jurors listened to people from Levi’s past relate his life in terms that were agonizing to hear – for the jury as well as for Levi. Each day they watched Levi’s guarded, silent reactions to things that were being said about him, and his parents, and his brothers and sisters.

(Levi had been scrubbed up and fitted with a nice suit. One juror supposedly commented on the first day of the sentencing hearing that she had mistakenly assumed he was one of the attorneys. But a new suit and a good haircut could do little but highlight the pain and fear that were emanating from his young eyes.)

The jurors also had to look into the eyes of the victims’ family and friends who were in the courtroom every day. There was pain in those eyes also, as well as bewilderment and anger. If there ever was a thankless job, it belonged to those twelve fine people in Lubbock who had to chart a steady course across a sea of rage.

Yesterday I received the following anonymous comment on the original “Levi King” post of October 7, 2009. It gives a rare glimpse into the grueling responsibility that befell that jury.

Thank you for your kind words, for Levi and for the jury. I was one of those jurors who sat for over 5 weeks and listened to all the testimony, including your own. I have weeped many nights for the victims and their family, but I have also weeped for Levi. I truly hope he does take this opportunity that has been given to him and that he makes something of the precious life of his that was spared.

To which I reply:

Thank you, Juror, for taking your task so seriously and listening patiently day after day, week after week, while a young man’s life was dissected and reassembled in a Texas courtroom. Thank you for having the heart to realize that while Levi did commit unspeakable acts of violence and murder, no child is born evil, not even Levi King, and he was pushed down a path toward tragedy at a very young age. Thank you for being compassionate when it would have been much easier to be vengeful. I hope and pray that Levi will be ever mindful of the opportunity that you and your colleagues on the jury have given to him. May he find the ability and resolve to do something positive with his life in prison, and may you find peace in your heart for your courageous decision to allow him to live. It could not have been easy.

2 comments:

molly. said...

I couldn't agree more with your reply to the juror's note.

Alie said...

I hope I never forget to keep praying for Levi. Too many times forgiveness is the road less travelled. I also hope and pray that he will cherish and embrace the miracle he was given. I agree with Molly regarding your kind reply to the Juror.