Humble leniency

Woman forgives husband’s murderer as he’s being executed in death chamber

Juan Martin Garcia

Could you forgive some who murdered a loved one in cold blood? What if you’re a Christian missionary and forgiveness is one of the tenets of your ministry? That is precisely the conundrum Ana Solano found herself faced with 15 years ago, as she sat on the witness stand at the trial of her husband’s killer, Juan Martin Garcia — and again on Tuesday night as she sat in a Texas death chamber and watched Garcia as he was executed by lethal injection. For Ana, the answers to those questions were, apparently, influenced by time. As The Washington Post recounts, when Solano was on the witness stand in 2000 and was asked under oath if she could forgive Garcia (an 18-year-old at the time that he killed her husband, Hugo, in 1998 during an armed robbery that yielded Garcia $8) she wavered. “I feel badly as well for him,” Solano told the court. “But to forgive your enemies is very difficult. I can’t say. That is why the jury is here and there is established law. Alli I know is that my husband is not coming back here.” Like Ana, Hugo was also a missionary who’d recently brought his family from Mexico to Houston. Garcia’s defense attorney had pressed Ana on the issue in an attempt to save Garcia from the death penalty. The jury slapped Garcia with a death sentence.

Fifteen years later, amid an ever-present pain, Solano and her daughter witnessed Garcia executed in a Texas death chamber on Tuesday night. Over the years, Garcia had refused to apologize and had mounted legal appeals hinging on flimsy excuses, saying he was high on drugs at the time of the crime and, in his stupor, had thought Hugo Solano was going to kill him. But at his execution, Garcia, who’s 35 now, came to peace with his crime and his fate and used his final words to apologize to Ana Solano and her daughter as they looked on. “That harm that I did to your dad and his husband … I hope this brings you closure,” Garcia said as his voice cracked and tears streamed from his eyes, The Associated Press reported. “I never wanted to hurt any of you all.” Ana and her daughter sobbed as the lethal injection began and they forgave the man who took away a husband and a father all those years ago. Garcia reportedly winced and gurgled as the pentobarbital injected into his veins began shutting his body down. Meanwhile, Ana and her daughter prayed for him. In interview with the AP afterward, she explained how she was able to forgive Garcia — and why, in the end, she even opposed the state putting him to death.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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