This is a brief update to two previous posts, one August 18, 2009 "Capital Murder Case" and the other September 16, 2009 "More on the Murder Case".
The execution of Larry Reynolds that was scheduled for October 8, 2009 has been postponed until next spring by the State of Ohio due to a recent botched execution attempt by lethal injection in another death row case.
I guess I just want to go on record here to say that I have found the peace about this sentence that I needed. If you have never served on a jury in a case like this, you really have no idea of the stress and all the mental and emotional sorting out that you have to do, all the soul-searching and praying and all the sleepless nights. To say nothing of the long days of sitting in a jury box listening to gory testimony and seeing photographs that should never have to be seen of someone's mother, grandmother, daughter, doing your civic duty while your heart just aches to be home with your own young children.
Both 15 years ago when I served on the jury, and more recently as the execution date neared, I sought spiritual counsel from a trusted pastor. My conflict, of course, was that I am a pro-life person. I totally believe in the sanctity of human life. And I had to reconcile that belief with how I feel about the death penalty in a murder case.
What I have come to understand is this: The death penalty really upholds the idea of how sacred human life is to God. When one intentionally takes the life of another, the only just penalty is for him to forfeit his own. I hope that one sentence might help someone else who struggles with how they feel about the death penalty. I know that others do not agree with my conclusion. Like I said, I have found peace in it. And I believe it is God's peace. I can rest in it.
That said, I also want to say that I find no pleasure in the circus-like atmosphere that often attends high-profile executions. That is a sad commentary on our society and only serves to undermine what is being done.
While I personally feel that 15 years or more is way too long for a sentence to be imposed, I am glad our judicial system allows time for appeals and hearings so that there hopefully will be no mistake made. Unfortunately we all know this has happened.
As far as the Reynolds case goes, God has His own timing in mind. He is working all things out for good, even in this situation. In the past few months, I have been put in touch with a relative of the victim. For 15 years she has been angry and consumed in her grief and loss. I was able to tell her that she will continue to be a victim of Larry Reynolds long after he is executed if she kept herself on this path of anger and bitterness. I'm not free to go into the details, but something happened recently and this relative of the victim has now softened her heart toward the murderer's family and sees their own torment and loss...and she is also praying that Reynolds himself might come to repentance before his next execution date. Did you catch that? The victim's relative is praying for the person who murdered her loved one. God is at work.
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7