Monday, July 21, 2014

The Lady from Death Row

 by   Cecily Lynch © 2014   

When I heard that a convicted murderer was going to give a talk, various images sprang into my mind.  Would she be a tough, hardened, American criminal or like somebody from the Sopranos?
An ordinary average middle-aged woman walked onto the stage. She adjusted her glasses and began.  There was just that little touch of steel in her voice to hold the audience's attention.
"I was 18 years on Death Row, in solitary confinement, for a crime I did not commit."
The audience gasped.  I craned my neck in order to see her better. She continued.
"How did I cope during those dreadful years, locked in a small cell, fearing that every day would be my last?" 
There was a pause.  Every eye in the room was riveted on her.
"I fought, I fought physically and mentally, I fought against the injustice with all my might."  She raised her head, her spectacles glinted, she touched her grey hair.  "My anger was red hot, it saved me because I would not give in to despair.  I raged and raged, and out of my anger came my huge effort to prove my innocence. I felt God would help me, for He knew I was innocent of the crime."
At this stage someone in the audience asked, "How was it that you were convicted?"
The lady lifted her head slowly and with emphasis declared, 
"I did not pull the trigger. I wept and wailed at first when I was locked up.  Then I rallied and fought like a cornered lioness.  I saw the prison director twice a day.  I mustered support from my friends who engaged extra lawyers.  But I was still locked up 23 hours out of the 24."
There were murmurs of sympathy from the audience. She continued: 
"I wrote and wrote.  I got a retrial, I was convicted again. I was sentenced to the electric chair. I read the bible. I worked out maths problems but my anger never left me. I did not pull the trigger.
Eventually one of the key witnesses confessed that he did not actually see me pull the trigger.  Some others followed suit after another court case.  It was deemed that there was a doubt about the testimony against me. I was released after 18 years." 
I left the hall in silence and ever since then, when accused unjustly, when bullied and scorned, when spat at and criticised, I repeat over and over, 'I did not pull the trigger'. 

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