Everyone has probably heard everything they want to hear about the George Zimmerman trial — the jury’s verdict, the devastation of Trayvon Martin’s parents, the protests.
Who among us will ever know the truth of what really happened?
Only two people know the truth, and one of them is dead.
So many unknowns. Here is where I empathize with Trayvon’s parents on a very personal level.
In September 1994, my firstborn nephew was 42 years old. He was a husband, father, son, brother, nurse, farmer and all-around good person. He was going about his day doing chores at the farm he shared with my brother, his father. His folks were out-of-town on vacation, and he had gone to feed the livestock and check the barn and house. Ordinarily, he would have taken his 11-year-old son with him but it was the first day of school and well, we do have our priorities.
There had been hints to his brother that someone was stalking him. He even indicated that his brother should not be surprised if the police called one day to say he’d been murdered.
That Labor Day weekend all he had suspected came true. It is still hard to think about. A mob-style murder with too many bullet wounds to count. Hopefully, instantaneous death. Gone from us forever — all the roles he filled now void of his contributions.
It took months to extradite the suspected murderer back to Tennessee from Louisiana where he had been in hiding, and then ensuing months of trial preparation. Finally, a trial date was scheduled. A jury was selected. Opening statements, testimony of witnesses, rebuttals, closing arguments. Finished.
The jury returned a not guilty verdict.
This even after the defendant shared with his wife and two teen-aged sons his plans to kill my nephew. The law said his wife could not testify against him. His wife did not want their sons involved in the trial. Likely, any testimony by these three persons would be refuted as hearsay anyway.
Much like Martin and Zimmerman, there were only two people who knew the truth. And one of them was dead. No evidence at the scene pointed directly to the defendant — no evidence of tire tracks other than my nephew’s, no fingerprints, no footprints, no gun was ever found, without a gun the ballistics at the scene were worthless.
I still find it difficult to put into words how it feels to lose a family member in this way, and then live with the knowledge no one is paying the price for that life evaporated by violence.
Yes, my heart goes out to Trayvon’s parents. I know something of how they must feel. However, our judicial system was designed to work the way it does. When the jury has spoken, the trial is over. But the pain of loss never stops. It lives on in our hearts and memories for a very long time.
These are our stories, our memories.
Q4U: Do you have a story to share today? Feel free to share it in the comments. I love hearing your stories.