Coming full circle with a murderer

Oba Chandler, possibly one of the worst persons in earth, will be executed today.

In 1989, he sexually assaulted and drowned a mother and her two daughters. Only God and Chandler know what really happened, but what the circumstantial evidence and forensics pieced together at trial was nothing short of horrific.

I was in law school when the case was tried in 1993. There was extensive coverage of the trial, and I was fascinated and mortified by it. I recall being late to class when the verdict was read because I was listening to it live on the radio in my car.

Over the years, I have been privileged to become friends with Chandlers defense attorney. He is a fantastic lawyer, and has been an influence on me. I have never dared ask him anything about Chandler or the trial. Seems bad form to me, I can’t explain why.

I’ve read all the media reports and appellate opinions related to the case. There is something in my brain that will never understand how or why such a terrible crime could occur. Now, having children of my own, I wonder what other monsters are lurking out there in the world.

In the last 18 years, I have practiced criminal law. I’ve seen it all, but am still shocked by what Chandler did to that family.

Now, today, he dies. The case has come full circle. This is the first case I really remember from trial to execution. I was in Tallahassee when the Chi Omega murders were committed by Ted Bundy, but I was in third grade; I don’t remember the trial, and was in college when he was executed. I just didn’t have an mature understanding of the whole thing, and didn’t pay attention to it. Chandler is different.

I do not support the death penalty as a whole. I’m not reasoning why in this post. But I certainly understand the need to exterminate vermin like Chandler – who wouldn’t? But it seems almost too good for Chandler considering the level of destruction, pain, and terror he inflicted on so many lives.

I pause to think that if I have such mixed and confused emotions about killing him, what must the lone survivor feel? The man who buried his entire family, what does he live with daily? What is he thinking today? Will this execution give him any relief?

He, too, has come full circle. The irony is that Chandler’s life is not a circle, it’s a line with a definitive ending point. The poor husband/father’s life IS a circle, an infinite loop that will unfortunately start over and replay itself again and again.

As the sentence is carried out on this wicked man, hug you loved ones, protect them, and pray for peace and healing for those who have lost.