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My beloved aunt, Janet Downing, was murdered by juvenile Edward O’Brien in 1995 [in Somerville].
Her defensive wounds were plentiful. He was 6 foot 4 and 260 pounds. My aunt was 5 foot 3 and 114 pounds. She never had a chance, but she fought so hard to keep her life.
I try to block the noise from the hearings and trial from my mind because the emotions evoked are completely unbearable. I return to my safe place when these thoughts occur – he’s behind bars for life without exception. No one else will suffer from his brutality. I never thought these facts would change. I was wrong.
The recent ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court allows my aunt’s murderer the chance for parole. My family will be forced to sit in a room with him, and the full realization of the fact that he could leave prison will hit. If the parole board decides he stays in jail, we’ll have to attend parole board hearings every few years and feel all of this, every time.
Did the SJC even consider this? It seems their concerns were 100 percent focused on the murderers and their rights. I struggle to make sense of this. Given there are 60-plus other juvenile murderers in state now eligible for parole, maybe your family member was a victim too.