Compromise on Justice
I’ve been watching Pat Lollis for about a year now. She’s a widow who draws make-up around her eyes and struggles to keep her tears from ruining it. Sometimes she wins, sometimes she loses. She knows about loss. She watched two men gun her husband down five years ago.
Pat spent a lot of time in courtrooms since then, shifting in uncomfortable seats, looking with glazed eyes at the men who plotted to rob and kill her husband George. She watched two men go to jail on murder charges. She watched the Supreme Court overturn their convictions. She came back to court for hearing after hearing, waiting for justice.
Greenville, South Carolina’s summer of 1996 was bloody. A crew of money-hungry and blood-thirsty bandits were robbing and shooting up the foothills burg. Police caught some of bandits, got some convictions, and beat their detective-heads against the wall trying to solve the case of Jason Anderson’s murder. He died on the job at a mom and pop animal shop called the Carolina Pet Center. He couldn’t figure out how to open the cash register and a guy in a mask shot him dead. He was 20 and just engaged. Police never found the shooter, never found the gun.
Today in court, Pat Lollis watched the last of her husband’s killers make a play for a shorter prison sentence. He knows where the Pet Center gun is. He probably knows who shot it. The prosecutor wanted to cut a deal. If the once-convicted murderer can lead them to the gun, he gets 25 years in the pokey instead of life. The deal hinged on Pat Lollis.
She watched her husband die. She watched the System let the killers out of jail. She spent half a decade in the waning years of her life sitting in courtrooms lit by ugly flourescent lights. Now, an elected prosecutor wants to cut a deal and not fully prosecute the man who had a hand her husband’s death.
She said yes.
Now…Jason Anderson’s mother…a woman who once forgave the unknown killer and who now leads a tortured life somewhere in the North Carolina mountains has a chance to know who killed her son.
She has a chance at justice because Pat Lollis compromised on hers.