On hearing last summer of the dreadful incident resulting in James Denton’s death, I felt sick to my stomach.
Here were two boys, their lives gone, changed forever. Over the year, I have continued to be unsettled by the deep grief of both boys’ families.
In last Friday’s Record, I saw the disturbing headline: Teen convicted of second-degree murder.
More disturbing, a phrase hitting me in the gut, were those words by Denton’s uncle, describing the teen as “a lying little murderer.”
What is the purpose of publishing these personal expressions of grief? What information or insight is to be gained by quoting the hateful words of a distraught family member?
That night of July 23, 2011, was a terrible night for the boys, their families, a community. Fear plus alcohol plus weapons equals tragedy.
The knife the boy carried was a stupid decision, and the two hits to James Denton the most unfortunate in both their lives.
That Judge Goepel did not perceive fear in the boy’s carrying a knife and even acting the aggressor is bewildering: It’s the little dogs that bite more than the big ones . . . because they are afraid.
That the judge did not deem the 16-year-old, whose brain is not fully developed until 25, immature goes against current understanding of brain development.
That boy is not “a lying little murderer;” he’s a person with thoughts, aspirations, and fears, just like James Denton was. He’s a boy who made a horrible mistake.
He’s a boy who needs our compassion, not our hatred. He and his family suffer, along with the Denton family.
The news media should not sensationalize and further contribute to their suffering.