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2009年2月25日 (水)

正義のかたち:死刑・日米家族の選択/4 許し、慰問する被害者の母

(Mainichi Japan) February 24, 2009

A life for a life: For two women who lost a loved one, two roads to finding peace (Pt 4)

正義のかたち:死刑・日米家族の選択/4 許し、慰問する被害者の母


Dear Mr. Mickey, 12 years ago, I had a beautiful daughter named Catherine. She was a young woman of unusual talents and intelligence. She was slender and her skin glowed with health and vitality. She had long naturally wavy hair that framed her sparkling eyes and warm bright smile. She radiated love and joy!

(When you took her life,) I knew that I had been robbed of my precious child and that she had been robbed of growing into womanhood and achieving all of her potential. I was very angry with you and wanted to see you punished to the limit of the law. You had done irreparable damage to my family and my dreams for the future. (But) after eight long years of grief and anger...I was surprised to find that I could forgive you.

 <敬愛する ミッキーさま



In April 1992, Aba Gayle, 72, of Silverton, Oregon, wrote these words in a letter to Douglas Mickey, 60, the man sitting on death row at San Quentin California State Prison for the murder of her daughter. A few weeks later she received a thankful reply from Mickey, and in August of the same year Gayle went to visit Mickey.


Gayle was led to a part of the prison for death row inmates. She had always thought that such a place would be full of monsters, but on her visit she found the inmates to be quietly courteous. While she waited for Mickey to arrive, her heart raced. After a wait of 45 minutes, she finally laid eyes on the man who took Catherine's life and saw no monster but "a completely normal man."


The pair talked for more than three hours. She learned that Mickey's mother had committed suicide when he was just 16 years old. "We talked together about Catherine, I cried and he cried. I realized the night I lost my daughter, Douglas also lost his future."



When Catherine died in September 1980 at the age of 19, she had been living in a California apartment with a 30-year-old musician who had got into some drug-related trouble. It was this trouble that led Mickey to stab the musician to death, and Catherine as well. After the crime, Mickey fled to Japan, but was captured in 1981. He was sentenced to death in 1983.


For many years after, Gayle cried "buckets of tears" over the loss of her daughter. Later, more than sadness, Gayle felt growing hate for Mickey. She swore that when it came time for Mickey's execution she would go and see Catherine's killer suffer.


However, some eight years after her daughter's violent death, she began to question whether her life should be spent in hatred. Gradually, through visits to churches and other methods, she transformed her anger into a search for peace and love.

Twelve years after the murder, she heard a mysterious voice from within her heart.

"You must forgive him and you must let him know!" it said. Gayle wrote the letter to Mickey soon after.



It took 12 years for Gayle to forgive Catherine's killer, but some family members of murder victims find any length of time too short to grant forgiveness.

In the northeastern state of New Jersey, the parents of Sharon Hazard-Johnson, 52, were brutally murdered in their home by a robber. The culprit was caught and sentenced to death, but avoided execution when New Jersey abandoned the death penalty at the end of 2007. Hazard-Johnson said that her heart would now "remain broken," as she lost the chance to stand in front of her parents' grave and tell them that their killer had been executed.


As the New Jersey State Legislature debated the need for capital punishment, Hazard-Johnson continued to argue in favor of the death sentence.


"Personally, I do not forgive my parents' murderer for what he did to them," says Hazard-Johnson. "Neither have I sought revenge. I did, however, expect justice. At the very least, my parents deserved justice."


The United States is unusual in that it leaves the application and enforcement of capital punishment up to individual states. Grieving families of murder victims who hoped for the death penalty but will never see it carried out are almost certainly not rare.


However, "the death penalty just makes another family of a victim," says Gayle, who is now giving lectures calling for the abolition of the death penalty all over the United States. She even calls Douglas Mickey a friend, and continues to give him regular comfort.


Does Gayle ever have second thoughts about forgiving and even befriending her daughter's killer? "I heard the voice of Catherine, 'Mom, you are not wrong,' " she says. (By Takayasu Ogura, Mainichi Shimbun. This is the fourth part of a series on capital punishment)







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