Parents of 8-Year-Old Boston Marathon Bombing Victim Urge Against Death Penalty in Heartwrenching Essay

richard family boston marathon bombing victimsMartin Richard was 8-years-old when he was killed by the bomb Dzhokhar Tsarnaev detonated at the Boston Marathon finish line in 2013. Martin's sister, Jane, was just 7-years-old when she lost her leg from the same bomb that took her brother's life. Her mother Denise lost an eye; her father Bill's eardrums burst. Older brother Henry sustained cuts and bruises. The Richard family endured so much, but in Bill and Denise Richard's essay "To end the anguish, drop the death penalty", they ask to take the defendant out of the spotlight, off the death penalty, in order for them -- for all of us -- to be able to focus on the future. 


As a society, we focus so much on the criminal. We sensationalize all of it, their face splashed across the screen on every news channel, website, and newspaper. That person becomes a name mentioned in households all over America, the world. We as a society eat up every ounce of info on the people who kill, harm, do these awful acts, and in doing so we seem to forget the living, the survivors, and those that were taken too soon as a result of those crimes. 

As a parent, I want to stand with the Richard family. I want to choose to not devote my energy or thought toward the man sentenced. But instead remember the life that was taken, the lives that changed, and put positive energy into that life. From Bill and Denise Richard's essay:

The past two years have been the most trying of our lives. Our family has grieved, buried our young son, battled injuries, and endured numerous surgeries — all while trying to rebuild lives that will never be the same. We sat in the courtroom, day after day, bearing witness to overwhelming evidence that included graphic video and photographs, replicated bombs, and even the clothes our son wore his last day alive.

It's hard to take in what this family has been through. It is the unthinkable, but it is their reality. Their powerful essay needs to be read and heard. They continue.

We understand all too well the heinousness and brutality of the crimes committed. We were there. We lived it. The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter, and stole part of our soul. We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives. We hope our two remaining children do not have to grow up with the lingering, painful reminder of what the defendant took from them, which years of appeals would undoubtedly bring.

They are right. The years of appeals would mean that defendants name will be a constant in the news. More attention. And isn't that what those who often commit heinous crimes want? Attention. To make a statement. To welcome copycats. We know all we need to know about the person who committed this crime -- it's time to move on from him. The Richards also wrote, "As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours. The minute the defendant fades from our newspapers and TV screens is the minute we begin the process of rebuilding our lives and our family."

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That is how we heal. And we need to heal. The Richard family and all the families affected by the Boston Marathon bombing deserve healing. No matter what happens with this trial and whether or not the death penalty is served, let these words be considered by all media in their coverage. Let's instead turn our focus on helping this family and all families affected to rebuild their lives, while we also rebuild our community, our country.

Do you think the death penalty should be served in this case? What do you think of all the attention we typically give those who commit heinous crimes?


Image via Nicolaus Czarnecki/ZUMA Press/Corbis

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