Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Creating more victims -- Part Six

Today we resume our series, based on the groundbreaking report Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind. This series was prepared with the assistance of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights and is running in conjunction with the holiday season.

What happens when the child of a murder victim is also the child of the person convicted of that murder? Marcus Lawrie was 7 years old when his father, David Lawrie, set fire to his house in a drug- induced rage, killing his wife Michelle Lawrie, two of their young children, and a neighbor’s child. Marcus was 14 when the state of Delaware executed his father.

Marcus, now 21, says he wants people to understand that as horrific as the first tragedy was, he did not view the execution of his father as compensation for his multiple losses. "I lost my mom and sisters because of my dad, and that hurts, but you’ve got to understand – by giving my father the death penalty, you’re taking my other parent from me."

Marcus remembers hopping the back fence at his elementary school in order to escape reporters who wanted to photograph him. He remembers people setting doll babies on fire in the yard of his grandmother’s home. He remembers getting into fights with other kids at school. He remembers standing outside the prison on the night of the execution, hearing people screaming in favor of the death penalty.

For a long time, it was hard for Marcus to talk much about how either of his parents died, but as he got older, talking got easier. Now he’s hopeful that telling about his experience might make people think about how children are affected when the death penalty is imposed in cases of domestic violence.

To read Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind, go here, scroll down to near the bottom of the front page of the web site, and click on the report.

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