An apology makes everything better

February 21, 2010

For reasons only he knows, 17-year old Robert Barnes raped and murdered his good friend, 16-year old Meghan Landowski:

No one knows what got into him that afternoon in April of 2008. But he broke into Meghan’s house while no one was home and waited for her to get home from school. As she walked in the door, he attacked.

He duct taped her mouth shut and taped her arms behind her back. Then he raped her before stabbing her 40 times — a dozen of those wounds came after she was already dead. He left her bleeding with her pants down on the kitchen floor, the pool of blood spread 10-feet wide.

Father Chris Shortt was the first to find her. “I walked in and the front door was open,” he testified. “I stepped forward and I saw her laying there. She was white, like a China doll. Then I noticed her throat. I’d rather not say what that looked like because my wife still doesn’t know.”

A horrific crime, and I can honestly say that I’m sorry his juvenile status apparently prevented the prosecution from seeking a death penalty.  If ever a criminal deserved trial as an adult, with the punishment meted to an adult, it is Robert Barnes. But what jumped out at me and prompted this post is the following:

In court, he apologized to the family.

Oh, gee, I’ll bet that made the family feel so much better. “I’m sorry Mr. & Mrs. Barnes, that I raped and tormented and tortured your girl, reducing her to crying terror and misery, begging me to stop, until I finally slaughtered her like a pig. And, oh, sorry, dude. It was rude of me to leave her on the floor like that for you to find. Apology accepted?”

What is it with the modern obsession with apology? An apology for stealing a toy or some food is one thing; it’s one way we teach our children right from wrong, and the property gets restored or replaced. But an apology for rape and murder? What good does that do? Does it somehow make the parents feel any less devastated over their loss, or alleviate the feelings of guilt they must feel for not being there to protect her? Does it give her back her life? I honestly don’t know how Meghan’s parents found the strength to sit there and listen to Barnes, yet not grab for a deputy’s gun to shoot him dead.

I’m sorry,” Barnes said.

To hell with apologies.