Should a man accused of shooting his own daughter get out of jail to attend her funeral? That's the question in front of an Ohio judge today in the case of Deandre Kelley, a father who allegedly shot off a gun into the air during an argument with his girlfriend. One of the errant bullets killed 11-year-old Shanti Lanza. The little girl will be buried on Saturday, but her father is in jail, pending trial on a reckless homicide charge.
So, should dad get a funeral pass? Even if he killed his daughter?
The hard-hearted part of me wants to say no. You screw up, you lose things. That's part of the justice system.
And yet, our justice system is also built on the presumption of innocence until one is proven guilty. Deandre Kelley, at this point in time, is presumed innocent.
He sits in jail, yes, but it's because he can't come up with a $500,000 bond. He has not been convicted of any crime. So why shouldn't he be allowed to attend his daughter's funeral?
Look at it this way -- Deandre Kelley could get off. I'm not saying he will or even that he should. But if we're looking strictly at how the justice system works, he could.
And then what? If he's been denied a chance to say his final goodbyes, there are no do-overs. There's no chance to go back and give him the funeral back.
Perhaps I'm more inclined to have a little sympathy for this guy because the child's death is being described as accidental. It's not like he walked up to the fifth grader and shot her in cold blood. Even the charge -- reckless homicide -- indicates the child died because dad allegedly screwed up, but not because of any malicious intent.
It's not right or OK, but it's also a little easier to wrap my head around than the evil of a parent killing a child in cold blood. Accidents happen. Accidents are forgivable -- even when punishment is required.
But the fact is, we aren't at punishment stage yet. There has been no conviction. And if we really follow the letter of the law, if we really believe in innocence until proven guilt, funeral passes are a must.
Do you agree? What should happen to this father's request?
Image via police