As I write this blog post, attorneys have finished closing arguments and the jury is deliberating. Unfortunately, those twelve individuals face this task without even knowing about the second murder, another girl the same defendant is alleged to have killed. Biological evidence left at both crime scenes provides incontrovertible linkage between the same man and two dead girls. Since the two crimes are separated in time, they will be tried as separate events.
There’s a slight relief in that decision because if the defendant somehow convinces this jury that he is not guilty of murder, perhaps the second trial will succeed. Juries are fallible – people tasked with making a difficult decision based on the evidence presented in court. The truth is not always revealed but I know the verdict I’m hoping to hear.
I’m not going to offer details of the crime because enough has been taken from my friend and her family. The events of her death are not my story to tell. I choose to remember her as a vibrant young woman, not the victim she appears in the news articles. She lost her life. Her parents lost a daughter. Her sister lost her best friend. Her nephew lost his auntie. The world lost a beautiful human being.
But, in truth, she wasn’t lost was she?
No, she was taken from us. Stolen. Ripped from the fabric of her life, and ours. For more than three decades we’ve been denied her companionship, her smile, her laughter, the children she might have born, the grandchildren she would have cherished. An immeasurable number of mundane and golden moments that never happened…
Murder destroys families, damages communities, shatters the continuity of life in such a manner that the pieces can never be made whole again. In the end, there are only victims. The men who ended my friend’s life set in motion a series of self-destructive actions. Even killers are loved by someone – his family lost a child too on that long-ago day – it just took much longer for that body to hit the floor.
I’m glad the case is closed. There was a time when this resolution might have brought a certain degree of peace – the mythical closure that people talk about on television shows – but I can’t say I believe that now. Death happens. As a part of the lifecycle, I know everyone dies, but the empty space left behind by murder fills in differently. The ground is uneven, the footing treacherous with weak spots. Like a field filled with old bomb craters, that hard-won stability wears away over time, eroding into a mess of darkness and questions.
You get on with your life and you’re grateful and guilty about doing so. But you don’t ever really leave it behind. No matter the outcome of the court case, there is no real justice for a life taken. There is no way to make the past right. The dead are still gone.