Friday, October 30, 2009
Justice? Perhaps. Peace? Well . . . .
One minute all is well with the world. Next minute, everything has changed.
It can happen in a heartbeat.
Normally, a picture like the one above might inspire a sense of justice being served. The 'perp' has been apprehended. He's in the court room. Guarded. Indeed, surrounded by guards. Chained. Like an animal.
But, that's Jose. Jose Feliciano. The former janitor at St. Patrick's Church and School. Worked there for 17 years. Loved by the parents and the kids. Used to live in the neighborhood with his wife, Marisol, and their kids. Hard worker. Always very kind.
And, he brutally murdered my friend, Fr. Ed Hinds. Stabbed him 32 times with a kitchen knife while they were in the rectory.
I saw a brief news clip of Jose walking into the court room. He looked weak. Fragile. He was shaking. He seemed uncertain when asked if he understood the charges.
"His color's off," I said to Ms. Conroy.
"I'll bet it is," she sniffed.
"No, no," I said, "I think he's sick. Didn't he have kidney problems?"
She shrugged her shoulders.
Turns out, he does. One of my neighbors says that when she talked with him last week, the doctors thought he might have a cyst on one of his kidneys.
She also said that he had just lost his second job at an electronic store and that Fr. Hinds had told him, just the day before the murder, that he might lose his job in the next round of budget cuts.
Indeed, the local newspaper reports that last fact as being in the court documents.
That does not excuse what Jose did. Nothing will ever excuse that. Ever.
It's just complicated, is all. Or, at least, not as simple as it once was.
Turns out, Jose is not who we thought he was. Has used several phony names. Has several social security numbers.
Oh, and he's also wanted on a 1988 bench warrant issued in Philadelphia for an "indecent assault" charge and "corrupting a minor".
Say WHAT? Jose? How could that possibly be?
It's all so hard to get your mind wrapped around.
Evidence. Allegations. Attorneys. Prosecution. Defense. Judge. Jury of your peers.
It's television, right? Not real life. Not our lives.
Home. School. Work. Church. Sports. Love. Kindness. Hugs. Family. Friends.
That's the stuff of our lives, right? How can any of the rest of this be real?
Jose has been formally charged and is being held on $1 Million bail. He has a court-appointed lawyer.
The judicial system is beginning to grind its way through its process.
Justice may be served but, this time, justice will not bring peace.
It can't. Not this time. Not for anyone around here.
Except for Fr. Ed, who now rests in Light Eternal.
That's the promise - the comfort - of our faith.
At least we have that.