Willie Manning’s trial for the murder of two students was held in November, 1994. A few months earlier, another Mississippi capital murder trial took place which was to change the life of one of the jurors forever.*
In July, 1994, Lindy Lou Isonhood found herself on the jury for the resentencing trial of Bobby Glen Wilcher, who had stabbed two women to death. To start with, Isonhood went along with the belief commonly held in Mississippi that “an eye for an eye” was appropriate, so a murderer deserved to die.
But then Isonhood looked towards Wilcher… and saw “a living, breathing human being”. If that person had been her son, she realized, she would have wanted him to be punished, but not killed. Unfortunately, she says, the court misled her into believing that the death penalty was the only option. She watched as Wilcher was sentenced to death.
Isonhood was to suffer post traumatic stress disorder as a result: she experienced anger, depression and anxiety. Before his execution at Mississippi State Penitentiary she befriended Wilcher to ask for his forgiveness, which was freely given.
Isonhood has discovered that some of her fellow jurors were similarly burdened. Her experience has alerted her to the “ripples of sorrow” radiating from the death penalty, which can affect everyone it touches. She now opposes the death penalty because of this.
We commend Isonhood for her efforts this year in raising public awareness about the insidious impact of the death penalty. Far too many people are damaged by it. It is time for it to end.