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My sister’s murderers were convicted of premeditated first degree felony murder with three aggravating circumstances of cruel, heinous and depraved and sentenced to death in Arizona in 1990.

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Their accomplice who also conspired with them and was present at the time of Cindy’s death, who could have intervened, who enjoyed a celebratory dinner with the murderers on Cindy’s credit card shortly after stabbing and nearly decapitating her, was granted immunity for her testimony and walks free in Germany.  We the People paid for her lodging and living expenses for over a year before the trial came to court.  She, like the murderers, never paid one dime in to American tax coffers.

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Both brothers, although sentenced to death over two decades ago, remain alive.  Both have drained both AZ and Federal taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars in avoiding their fate.  One was released from death row being deemed “mentally retarded” after 17 years and as soon as the Supreme Court issued a ruling we can’t execute the “mentally retarded”.  Cindy’s name, nor her murder, were barely mentioned in court in that lengthy hearing to determine his new sentence.

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The murderers while on death row were afforded support ads that read like singles ads soliciting penpals, wives and money.  In one of them is a photo of the man who slit her throat holding her puppy.  Years after he was released from Death Row and in to General Population, his ad was still online purporting he was still on Death Row.  They are seen as victims and the true, innocent victim gets forgotten.

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We the People deem this an ok evolution for the worst of the worst in our society.  The ones we’ve created the ultimate punishment for receive the best legal assistance we have to offer.  And we pay for it.  It’s a lucrative business for many death penalty opponents who make money off this passionate issue while torturing surviving victims of families along the way, dragging them back to court to relive the crime decades later, accosting them in their own homes, being abusive to them in cross examinations.

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And We the People deem this an ok policy because we turn a blind eye.  We think once a trial ends the suffering is over for the family.  It is just beginning with the Death Penalty.  In some cases, such as our own, that’s when families are preyed upon most viciously.  I believe this is for one major reason: no one is watching at that point except those who care about the murderers.

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Picture my elderly father and I sitting alone in a courtroom day after day while attorneys filled the side behind the murderer as we listened to arguments championing feeling sorry for them–the men who conspired to kill my sister for one reason:  money.  The men who took her to the desert on December 23 with promises of a “surprise” which ended up being a knife and the fists of two 6’7″ and 6’5″ vicious murderers who beat her, stabbed her repeatedly and nearly cut her head off.  For her body to be found the next day on Christmas Eve.

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Yet death penalty opponents find ways to make US, her family, somehow responsible for the “suffering” of her killers.  Try winding your way through that system when all the support and all the attention has waned from a high profile case as ours was.  This exact treatment will happen to the family members of Travis Alexander should Jodi Arias receive the one and only punishment her crime deserves under the law:  Death.

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The paltry few hundred dollars allocated to our family for counseling and lost wages to attend the trial dried up long before our trials were over yet I’ve continued to support her murderers through both my federal and state contributions.  Not just their living expenses mind you. their MILLIONS of dollars in legal fees over the years.  And I’ve not received one dime from those monies for my time testifying, lost wages or God forbid any counseling support I’ve paid out of pocket dealing with the unending trauma the system has levied at me.

Just think about this.  Please, just think about it is all I ask.

What do we value?  Why do we deem this use of our own resources on our worst of the worst appropriate and necessary in the name of “fairness”?

What do you think is fair?

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quick follow up – signs

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I spent 3 hours this morning diving in to my past and in to the present with thoughts of the death penalty here in Arizona, my sister’s homicide and the Jodi Arias trial.

John, my fiance and I are attending the Sedona Film Festival right now and have signed up for so many films we don’t really keep track day to day of what we see.

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Imagine my surprise shock when we walked in to our double feature today with the theme not just around prison/prisoners but about Death Row and the Arizona State Prison specifically.

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The first film we saw was a short film, very well done, about a condemned inmate’s last meal.  It was called Meat and Potatoes (linked there) and I have to say, although done with a compassionate spirit about a death row inmate being served his last meal, it truly touched my heart.

The second longer documentary was A Place to Stand (linked there) about Jimmy Santiago Baca and his journey to poetry through, you guessed it, his time served in the AZ State Prison.  There were scenes and descriptions of Cell Block 6 there which is literally the first cell block where Cindy’s  killers were incarcerated in 1990.  Talk about surreal.

John kept holding me tight and squeezing my hands whispering “are you ok?” and “do you want to leave?” because of course he knew what I’d been writing about all morning.  One of the many blessings of having a caring loving Psychologist in my life–he’s so supportive.

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I was proud of myself that I was able to appreciate these films with no malice in my heart considering all the other things I was contemplating today.  I truly was able to embrace their themes of healing and compassion.  I do believe that those attitudes are important in this world.  My path related to these issues is a different road, at least right now.  But I’m glad I have a heart of compassion in general that still beats strongly on these subjects so injected deeply in to my own heart.

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I felt a huge weight in my chest, but I stayed through both movies and shared appreciation to the film maker of how they touched me.  All of this, to me, is a sign of my healing and I’m very pleased about that.

But really, talk about signs. Damn, I don’t know that I know totally what that was about but wow, it sure got my attention.

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Disappointed the jury did not reach a verdict today and found I needed a nap this afternoon to kind of process all of these things, including this space of limbo.  And my heart continues to open wide to the Alexanders and all of Travis’ loved ones tonite and will continue sending love and healing until this verdict comes in.

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I love you all out there for reading and sharing.  I feel very connected.

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