I sat in the courtroom today as a jury found a man guilty of murder. He was the driver of the vehicle that hit and killed my 17 year old niece, Brianna, last year, and severely injured her best friend. I listened as first one family member and then another got up and spoke about lives lost, and lives changed forever. My sister-in-law spoke about the fact that she didn't carry hatred toward the 36 year old who had made a choice- almost exactly a year ago- to drive after consuming more than 3 times the legal limit. As a matter of fact, she said she pitied him. He already had 6 DUI's prior to last year's wreck.
S I X
This now makes seven times that he has been convicted of driving under the influence.
Each time he drank he made a choice.
Each time he drove drunk, he made a choice.
She pitied him, because he'd been given a chance to make better choices.
Six times prior he could have chosen to start doing the right thing. To turn over a new leaf.
And yet, he never did.
This time his choice took the life of a girl just days out of high school. A girl who never left your house without giving you a hug and telling you she loved you. A girl full of life and laughter and sunshine. His choice also left a young girl with permanent brain damage, and the effects of having both legs broken.
If you read my post last year, you also know that Brianna's older brother was returning from a memorial service for Brianna, ONE WEEK TO THE DAY, and was struck by a deer, suffered a severe brain injury and died a few days later. He was buried the day before he would have turned 21 and two days before Brianna would have turned 18. They were Tonya and David's only children.
The choices we make have ripple effects. Many times we don't like to think of that part, because we don't want to acknowledge the opportunity we have to make a difference in other's lives- both for the good or the bad. It is easier to think that our actions don't effect others- it 'takes the pressure off'.
But we KNOW firsthand how untrue that is.
As I type this the jury is deliberating what his sentence will be. Whatever the amount of time, it will not erase the pain felt by Tonya and David as they struggle to learn to breathe again. As they try to go on with a life now devoid of the hopes and dreams they had for their children. Please pray for them, and for all those affected by the choices of this man.