Free/Pillars #writephoto

pillars

Photo by Sue Vincent

“Mr.  Johnson, how does it feel to be a free man after spending twenty-five years in jail?” a reporter asked Leroy Johnson as he stood in front of the courthouse with its massive pillars.  His mother was beside him.

He looked around at the sea of reporters with their mikes shoved in his face and the flashing cameras and smiled.  “It feels great!” he exclaimed.

Leroy was freed after spending twenty-five years of his life behind bars convicted of a murder he didn’t commit.  He was a free man now thanks to a couple of law students who examined the questionable circumstances surrounding his conviction and got his case opened.    Malcolm Holder, the real killer confessed to the killing.

“Do you feel any resentment toward Malcolm Holder?”

Leroy shook his head.  “Why should I feel resentment toward him?  He came forward and confessed to the killing twice.  The first time he did it was a couple of days after the shooting but he wasn’t arrested.  He tried to do the right thing but nobody listened.  They arrested me instead, an innocent man and sentenced me to forty years in jail with no chance of parole before 2029.”

“Is there anything you want to say to him?”

“Nothing except, that he did the right thing coming forward.”

“Mrs.  Johnson, how does it feel to have your son back?”

Mrs. Johnson smiled.  “It feels wonderful,” she replied.  “After twenty-five years, the Lord finally answered my prayers.  My son is a free man now.”

“Mr.  Johnson, what do you plan to do now that you’re free?”

He put his arm around his mother’s shoulders.  “I’m not thinking that far ahead but right now, I’m taking my Mama to lunch.”

I was inspired to write this story after hearing about the New York prisoner, Valentino Dixon whose conviction was overturned because of an investigation Golf Digest’s Max Adler helped to open.  Valentino was accused of shooting a man back in 1991.  He was arrested and convicted even though the real killer, Lamarr Scott admitted to local media just days after the murder that he shot Torriano Jackson but, he was never arrested.  To read the story, visit here.

This was written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Pillars at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

 

Sources:  USA Today; Bossip

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Elementary School Tragedy

My heart goes out to the families who lost their loved ones in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.  I was horrified when I learned that 26 people lost their lives and that 20 of them were children as young as six years old.  I saw the face of one of these innocent victims tonight–Emilie Parker.  I watched as her father Robbie spoke to the press, telling them what a blessing this precious child was to those whose lives she touched.  Her love for drawing and her compassionate nature won her many hearts.  Watch his emotional interview.

On CNN there were interviews with the brave teachers who went to great lengths to protect their students.  One of them barricaded the classroom by pushing filecabinets up against the door and tried to keep the children calm by reading stories to them.  Another grabbed a little boy from out of the hallway where bullets were whizzing by his head.  His mother was grateful to this teacher for saving his life.  Sadly six teachers lost their lives as they tried to save their students.   First grade teacher Victoria Soto was gunned down as she put herself between the shooter and the closet where she ushered the children for safety after she heard the gunshots.  Tonight a vigil was held in her honor.  Her family wanted her to be remembered as a dedicated teacher who loved her students. Victoria had dreamed of becoming a teacher since she was a little girl and she was able to realize that dream.  She was a heroine in the eyes of many and a teacher dearly loved by her students.  Dawn Hochsprung, the principal and Mary Sherlach, the psychologist died as they lunged at the gunman.  For a glimpse of these and the other victims of this tragedy, read http://bigstory.ap.org/article/glimpse-victims-conn-school-shooting

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the children and the brave teachers who gave their lives to protect them.  It is hard to fathom why a person would shoot innocent children.  This is considered to be one of the worst mass shootings in US history and it may well force the Obama administration to revisit the national ban on assault weapons.  The ban expired in 2004.  Maybe now is the time to push for its renewal and possibly prevent another tragedy like this from happening.

Parents, hug your children.  Let them know how much you love and cherish them.

candle-flickering

In memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre.  May they rest in peace.

Children

Daniel Barden, 7

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Madeleine F. Hsu, 6

Catherine V. Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison N. Wyatt, 6

ADULTS

Mary Sherlach, 56

Victoria Soto, 27

Anne Marie Murphy, 52

Lauren Rousseau, 30

Dawn Hochsprung, 47

Rachel Davino, 29

Source: http://www.newsday.com/news/nation/sandy-hook-victims-names-ages-released-1.4337288