Friday afternoon Judge Marilyn Wilder chose to eschew legalese and speak directly to a hurting family, delivering words about the legal system and justice that also are a message to the larger community.
"The justice system has limits. Nothing that has happened up to this point, and nothing that will happen in this courtroom is going to restore to you what you have lost," Wilder said. "Probably, nothing that happens in this courtroom is going to help you heal from that loss. Nothing that happens in this courtroom is going to give you your greatest desire — which is to have those two lives back. Our system is limited."
Cold, hard truth.
Nothing will bring back 24-year-old Alyssa Runyon or her 4-year-old daughter Zaylynn Paz who were brutally murdered by Keith Hawkins Aug. 8 in Newton.
There is no punishment harsh enough for the crime. There is no punishment that can bring restoration. There are no words that can comfort a family that is hurting and grieving. Their anger is easy to see, and justified.
For his part, David Yoder did the same during a press conference. For those who still believe his office should have pursued the death penalty, he made a no-nonsense statement.
"Realistically, no one has been executed in Kansas since the 1960s. The family realized that swifter justice would be seen by not seeking the death penalty. ... Nothing will restore this family to the status they had before this crime," Yoder said.
In the case of the murder of two people with their entire lives ahead of them, there is no justice. However, the best our system can do is toss Hawkins into a cell and throw away the key. The system will do just that.
— Kansan Editorial Board