If A Monster Murdered Your Child, Would You Be Able To Handle It As Compassionately As This Man Did?

Hector Black's daughter Patricia suffered like no human ever should at the hands of a truly heartless criminal. On the day of her murderer's sentencing, Hector did something he never thought he could do: He forgave.

Trigger warning: He briefly describes the crime, which involves sexual violence and murder.

The death penalty is the most costly form of punishment we can muster in this country. Millions of taxpayer dollars go to the court process, and more than 140 people since 1973 have been exonerated after being convicted on false evidence — which means some people were killed who may have been innocent.

Those who are guilty, in my mind, would be far better off living the rest of their natural lives in a place where all they could do was think about what they did. The death penalty lets them off easy, and it isn't really justice. It just numbs the pain that haunts victims' families. It never gives them their loved ones back.

If you think the death penalty isn't really the answer, you could share this. Up to you.

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HB: We learned about what had happened in bits and pieces. She came home and he was hiding in the closet hoping to jump out the back window and get away. But she opened the closet door and she fell backwards and he tied her hands behind her back.

And they had a conversation in the course of which she told him that he needed to get help with his drug habit. He told her to put burglar bars on the back window and always leave a light on. He asked her for sex and she said, 'You'll have to kill me first.' And so he did.

We were all just devastated. Nothing like this had ever happened. I mean, we'd known death but not like this. I'd never been in favor of the death penalty, but I wanted that man to hurt the way he had hurt her. I wanted him to hurt the way I was hurting.

But after a while I wanted to know who it was, what kind of a monster would do a thing like this and I learned a little bit about Ivan Simpson, which is his name. I found out that he was born in a mental hospital. And that when he was about 11 years old his mother took him and his brother and sister to a swimming pool and said God was ordering her to destroy them. He escaped and his brother escaped from her but he watched while his mother drowned his little sister.

Suzie and I both went to the district attorney's office and he was quite upset when we told him that we did not want this man killed. He plead guilty to every charge. And then it came turn for anybody who had been effected by the crime to say how this crime had effected them.

So I read my statement and in my statement I said, 'I don't hate you, Ivan Simpson. But I hate with all my soul what you did to my daughter.' And I looked in his eyes. The tears were streaming down his cheeks. And before he was led away he asked to speak and was lead to the microphone and he twice said, "I'm so sorry for the pain that I've caused."

And when I got back to my room that night, I couldn't sleep because I really felt as though a tremendous weight had been lifted from me and that I had forgiven him.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

As told by Hector Black to StoryCorps.

May 11, 2014

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