My dear friend Lorie Rice accompanied my daughter Christina and me to the Parole Hearing for Mark James Taylor on July 26, 2012. These are her words, I wish to share with you.
Yesterday I attended the parole hearing for Christopher’s murderer, Mark Taylor. My head is still reeling. My stomach is still churning. These feelings are unsettling, but appropriate. How could I possibly go through this experience and not be profoundly disturbed? I view this as a healthy response, however. Equilibrium is just a few hours away.
Why did I go? Radha mentioned the date and I immediately said, I’m going with you. “Why? Easy. Because that is what Radha would have replied. It’s just natural to want to give back to someone who is the epitome of generosity. So I went, having no thought about the possible impact on me (knowing, of course, that this experience is NOT about me).
I will not go through the details of the proceedings. Suffice to say that the DA was superb, the hearing officers were diligent and Mark’s attorney was not fully engaged. Radha and Christina were, rightfully, nervous, but fully alert and amazingly brave throughout the 4 hour hearing. They presented their statements tearfully – no sign of anger – but immense sadness. This will always stay with me….the sadness they expressed for the perpetrator.
The decision was to deny parole and prohibit parole for at least the next 7 years. We were pleased with the decision, which seemed fair for all. We were not ecstatic. How could we be? The decision doesn’t change the facts of this tragedy. Radha and Christina have been dealing with their loss for a long time and because of all the work they have done, they will be ok.
What about Mark? He is the cause of my lingering angst. So many unanswered questions. Not just about him, but about the nature of violence in general. Are there any warning signs? Is there hope of prevention? Are there any guarantees that Mark, or another Mark, set free, will live their remaining years free from a violent recurrence?
I prayed for Radha and Christina last night…and Mark. Mark, void of insight and empathy. Flat affect. No sincerity in his limited contrition. No reaction to the panel’s decision. When asked by the prison therapist how he had changed since being in prison, he said that he hadn’t changed; that he was ok when he came in and remained the same. I think he is right….he hasn’t changed. He is a lost soul and this conclusion leaves me deeply saddened.