To the Editor,
My son was a victim of the Ft. Hood massacre in November 2009. The attack took 13 lives and left 33 wounded. My son was struck by five bullets, the final one ripping through his body as he threw himself onto another victim to shield that person from further attack. I consider myself fortunate that my son survived. However, his physical and emotional wounds have changed his life — and our lives — forever.
The helplessness, fear and rage of waiting to learn whether my son was dead or alive still haunt me.
The man who did this to my son and my family has not gone to trial. He claims mental illness. It’s hard to know what kind of justice to hope for, but I know I want justice for my son and the other victims. The experience has taught me more than I ever wanted to know about the inadequacies of our legal system.
Recently, I saw even more deeply into our system when I was called to serve as a juror for a capital murder trial. I was shocked to learn that citizens who oppose capital punishment are not even allowed to serve on a death sentence jury. Something about that seems wrong to me.
What concerned me further was the composition of the jury pool. I couldn’t believe how dominated the room was with white people. The composition of the jury that was eventually chosen included only one person of color. I had heard stories about the exclusion of African Americans from jury service but I didn’t really believe it until I saw it.
It is precisely because my family has been victimized that I feel so strongly about the quality of justice our legal system delivers. I cared before; now it’s personal.
My heart goes out to all the murder victim family members I saw recently at a hearing on a bill to repeal the NC Racial Justice Act. I know that there are lots of other victims out here, like me, who hope and pray that our state does not repeal RJA.
Count me as a victim of violent crime who thinks we need the NC Racial Justice Act. That means I oppose the current attempt by its opponents to have it repealed. But don’t ever say I don’t understand the impact of violent crime. Don’t suggest that I don’t care about victims. And don’t dare suggest that I don’t care about justice.
DianeMarie C. Frappier