We were all celebrating with family, preparing for the big day. Looking ahead to the new year, wondering what it will bring. Making resolutions, back on my diet, quit that bad habit….again and so on.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was making a decision that would derail any plans my family would have had.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided Beth’s killer deserved a chance at parole. Perhaps they were erroneously signing papers, all the while wishing they were somewhere else celebrating the holiday. In retrospect, I too wish they had something else to do.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that “mandatory life without parole” sentences for juvenile killers are unconstitutional. Key word “mandatory”
The Massachusetts SJC decided that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling wasn’t enough. Not only removing “mandatory” from the new law, but making LWOP for juvenile killers illegal. This interpretation takes Supreme Court judges out of the decision. Today a Supreme Court judge cannot sentence a first degree murderer to LWOP because he isn’t eighteen years old. This sentence should be an option available for judges to reserve for the worst crime of all…..premeditated murder.
The U.S. Supreme Court did not instruct any State court to act retroactively. However, Massachusetts did act retroactively. This means killers already serving LWOP, will now be immediately eligible for parole.
Our worst nightmare was now coming true. Memories of the worst days of our lives came rushing back. The emotional roller coaster was heading up that first big hill, with no idea what was to come on the other side. The ups and downs over this year were extreme, lows so low you want to give up, and highs so high you want to tell the world. My world had changed again. I had no idea I would spend nearly every free minute this year doing my “Beth work” So many emotional hours spent writing emails, letters to newspapers, radio and television programs, telling our side of the story to anyone and everyone.
My circle of friends has grown exponentially this year. My old friends have had our backs since the start. New friends have poured in with support. Quite a team we’ve built. For this I’m thankful. We’d be nowhere without family and friends. On the tough days I think to myself “ Beth would do the same for me” so I push on.
When you gather this holiday season, and get that little chill, know that Beth is there and say “wish you were here”
Author: Big brother to Beth Brodie, Sean Aylward is a regular everyday guy trying to right a wrong. Bringing victim’s voices back to a world hell bent on criminal rights