When the Tucker brothers recommended life without parole for Jeffrey McKelvey, who brutally murdered their parents, it struck me as very impressive.
We've been posting on our Facebook page regarding the trial and comments were running strong for the death penalty. Even the prosecutors had told me ahead of time they planned to seek the death penalty.
If ever a case deserved the death penalty, a brutal murder done to rob 2 people enjoying the golden years of their lives warranted it.
Yet the Tuckers chose life without parole for a man who had wounded their family so deeply.
I don't really know the Tuckers and I don't know their reasons behind that choice. I think they might explain it in due time. I think they may have chosen that sentence rather than the death penalty because they didn't want to go through the long, arduous process of a death penalty appeal.
But when our able correspondent Carol Kovac texted me with the news of their recommendation, I immediately thought of Scripture.
In Mark 2:13, Jesus says "I desire mercy and not sacrifice." While the context is not exactly a death penalty case, but rather what he desires in the heart of man as part of the plan of salvation, it was still the first thing to enter my mind.
One other verse also came to mind. In Luke 6:38, Jesus says "You have heard that it was said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."
But he goes on to say Christians are to be meek and to "turn the other cheek" when slapped.
If it had been my parents, I'm sure I would have wanted blood. The Tuckers chose to take the high road, to lock this evil man away for the rest of his natural life and to try to go on with their own lives.
I applaud them. They made a bold, courageous call.
The death penalty is a deeply conflicting issue for me and I find it almost depends on my day and mood how I feel about it. There are many times when I think it is absolutely warranted, including this case. Then there are times when I am troubled by it.
The length of time it takes from trial to execution is an issue. The thought of an innocent man being executed bothers me, even though that possibility seems remote. And co-defendants who equally deserve the death penalty but turn state's evidence and avoid it also trouble me. It is, I am afraid, a necessary evil of the court system.
I've often wondered what I would do if one of Marshall County's defendants on Death Row came up for execution. Reporters from the county where the crime took place are usually offered a seat in the execution chamber. I feel strongly it needs to be reported but I think it would be very difficult for me to witness, no matter how deserving the criminal was of death.
I'm glad the death penalty is an option in our judicial system. I'm also glad that the Tuckers made the courageous call to recommend life without parole. If nothing else, it serves to make us all stop and think a little more about how we feel about punishment and mercy.