Wednesday, July 28, 2010


"Justice is a temporary thing that must at last come to an end; but the conscience is eternal and will never die." ~Martin Luther

A few years I had a job interview for the position that I now hold: High School History Teacher. The Principal asked me the final question, which was completely unexpected. He asked me to compare myself to any literary character, and explain the connection. Literary character? Me? But, I teach History. I had to think fast. Then, it came to me. Atticus Finch. For those of you who remember all those novels you had to read in high school, his name will be very familiar. For those of you who don't remember, Atticus is one of the main characters in the novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird". He plays the role of single father to two young children, and the city's young attorney, who is willing to fight for justice, regardless of the consequences. He is a determined, even stubborn man, who demands that right prevail, even if others feel that his position is futile, ignorant, or just plain wrong. Atticus Finch. They don't make people like that anymore....or do they? Turns out there is a jury in Spokane, Washington full of people with conviction like that of Atticus Finch.

Just yesterday, a verdict was handed down in a criminal court here in Spokane, Washington. I took particular interest in this case because it involved the young man who murdered a former student of mine. Nearly two and a half years ago, Sarah Clark, a kind, spirited, fun-loving senior in high school was brutally murdered by Justin Crenshaw. Justin had recently moved to the Spokane area to re-connect with a long-lost sister who happened to be one of Sarah's best friends. While we will never know the exact reason that Justin so viciously turned on Sarah and Tanner (another young man murdered at the scene that night), we know that two shining lights were forever extinguished at the hands of a disturbed individual.

I have watched the news for any information regarding this case and this young man since the day it happened. For every excuse that delayed the trial and every defense that was offered, I thought only of justice. I wanted justice for Sarah and Tanner. I wanted justice for the families who lost their children. I wanted justice for Justin so that he could somehow taste and comprehend the pain he caused and to agonize each day over the consequences of his actions.

Justin's trial is over. He was found guilty of the two murders. The jury did the right thing. It seems that they wanted justice as much as the rest of us did. His only possible sentence will be life in prison without the possibility of parole. At last, there is some justice, I guess. Despite the fact that I knew he would be found guilty, though, I can't help but feel a sense of frustration and emptiness. He's guilty. The world knows that and he will be punished for it, but Sarah and Tanner are still dead. They will never experience life. Justin robbed them of that. It is so unfair. I know that in the end, God will be the final judge. He will dole out eternal justice for this young man. That is consolation that seems far away at best.

I hope that Justin's lifetime in prison will provide him with the opportunity to realize the damage he's caused. Justice will come when he falls to his knees, his soul full of guilt, when the realization of the consequences of his actions comes over him. That is my prayer. I pray that God will convict him of his sins and let him feel the depth of the pain that he has caused to so many people who were close to Sarah, Tanner and their families. Through that guilt, perhaps some small measure of justice can be done.

Rest in peace and paradise, Sarah and Tanner. You will always be missed and never be forgotten .