When you're doing chores in your yard, do you ever think that what you're doing is going to affect someone a mile away? Marion Yoder probably didn't either. But the Amish man is now facing felony homicide charges because police say a bullet he shot off while cleaning his gun killed a teenage girl a full mile away.
Just think about that. A MILE away folks. This was not some creepy hunter who stood next to a pack of houses and shot off a gun at a big buck just to get a new trophy. Marion Yoder had no idea that 15-year-old Rachel Yoder (no relation) was driving a horse and buggy a mile away from his house. But now she's dead. And the courts want him to pay.
Hey, I get it. A child is dead. That is a tragedy under every definition of the word. Kids are not supposed to die.
But consider this: what happens if an Ohio court convicts Marion Yoder on the charge of reckless homicide. The 28-year-old will go to prison for an as yet undetermined amount of time.
It will make a prosecutor feel like he did something for Rachel's family. It will cost the state money. But it won't bring the teenager back.
I've noticed courts have begun to put real emphasis of late on crimes that are related to some sort of recklessness or negligence without intent. On the one hand, I applaud the push toward holding people responsible for their actions. If we've learned anything from the frivolous lawsuits that have crowded our dockets in recent years, Americans have become overfond of pointing the finger at everyone but themselves.
And yet, if you talk to someone who has unintentionally caused another's death, you'll often find they are already in a prison of sorts. It's a jail made from sorrow and helplessness. It's a dark and forbidding place, the kind that changes them for good.
I've seen what it's done to people. Some turn to alcohol to keep themselves from feeling. Some become good Samaritans to the extreme, hoping that somehow they can undo the bad by doing so very much good. All have a demon in their heads that will remain there for the rest of their lives.
What do you think is the best course of action here?
Image via El Caganer/Flickr