Sister of Hate Crime Victim James Anderson Pleads for No Death Penalty
Anderson's sister invokes the Bible and Coretta Scott King for mercy for perpetrators
In a letter issued today, the sister of James C. Anderson -- the man fatally run over by a truck driven, allegedly by a group of “white power!” shouting teens in a Mississippi hotel parking lot -- is asking the district attorney to not seek the death penalty in her brother’s killing. Barbara Anderson Young wrote that the family’s opposition to the death penalty is “deeply rooted in our religious fate, a fate that was central in James’ life as well.”
On Sept. 6, the family filed a lawsuit against seven teenagers, alleging their involvement in what prosecutors are calling a hate crime. Two of the teens face criminal charges. And the prosecution is strongly considering pursuit of capital murder charges, which carries a penalty of either death or life without parole.
As reported by the Clarion Ledger, Young wrote:
Our Savior Jesus Christ rejected the old way of an eye for an eye and taught us instead to turn the other cheek. He died that we might have everlasting life and, in doing so, asked that the lives of the two common criminals nailed to the crosses beside him be spared. We can do no less.
Those responsible for James’ death deserve to be punished for their criminal acts, and we want them punished to the fullest extent of the law. We hope that the criminal prosecutions will send a strong and clear message to those with hate in their hearts. We simply ask that that message be tempered with the love of our Savior.
According to the Clarion Ledger, Young said the family also opposes any execution “because it historically has been used in Mississippi and the South primarily against people of color for killing whites. Executing James’ killers will not help to balance the scales. But sparing them may help to spark a dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment.”
As a powerful incentive, Young quoted Coretta Scott King in explaining her opposition to capital punishment: “An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking of human life.”