We do not expect our children to die before we do.
Yesterday afternoon, Bill Richard took the stand in the Boston Marathon bombing trial. He told the members of the jury what happened to him, his wife and their two children, Martin and Jane. “We were running late,” he said. The winners had already finished and they had to walk back along the race course to find a place where they could see the runners pass on their way to the finish line. After watching for awhile, the kids got bored so the family took a break and got some ice cream at a nearby Baskin & Robbins. Then they tried to find a spot closer to the finish line. They found an opening in the crowd in front of the Forum Restaurant where the kids could stand behind the metal rail barricade next to the street and see the runners.
When he heard the first “thunderous explosion” near the finish line about a block away, he thought it was a sewer explosion. Concerned, he decided that they should leave the area. He hopped over the fence and turned to help his family into the street. A few seconds later, the second bomb exploded tearing his pants apart and knocking him to the ground. He gathered up his son and carried him across the street and gently placed him on the ground.
“When I saw Martin’s condition, I knew that he wasn’t gonna make it,” he said. “I told [Denise, his wife who lost an eye] I was gonna go be with Jane [his daughter whose leg was blown off]…she agreed.”
“It was at that time I saw my son alive, basically for the last time,” he added. “I knew we needed to move quickly, or we’d lose Jane, too.”
Richard accompanied both Henry [Martin] and Jane to Boston Children’s Hospital, describing the environment “like a scene from the movies.” There, Denise called Richard to tell him Martin had died.
“I said, ‘I know,’” he told the jury.
Jane later had 20 pieces of shrapnel removed from her body. Richard—unwilling to abandon his injured daughter—was also treated at Children’s Hospital for hearing loss, burns, and shrapnel wounds.
“But I can still hear the beautiful voices of my family,” he said.
No one ever expects to be in a situation like this. Unimaginable physical pain and unimaginable never ending emotional pain.
What should we do with the man who visited this horror on this innocent family and more than 260 other innocent people, including two other people who died?
What should we do?
Should we kill him?
What good would that do?
Does he even understand what he did?
I have been here before. I was a death penalty lawyer and I have witnessed awful things.
I have learned that even the worst of the worst have that spark of light that binds us all to each other and can be nurtured into a mighty flame.
That is my cause, my purpose, my life’s work.
I believe in forgiveness, mercy, redemption and resurrection, no matter what a person may have done.
I would never deny that to anyone.