Kelli Stapleton: What to make of murder?

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I don’t know Kelli Stapleton personally. I have read a bit of her blog, The Status Woe, and I know generally what it is like to have a child with autism.

I once stood jury on a trial, one that had to do with a local health food store. That was hard enough. I never, never want to be on a murder jury. How hard it must be to listen to all the details. To figure out what is right, to the letter of the law. One thing I did learn while on my jury, you don’t really get the whole story. There were items left out of the trial, out of the court documents, that would have been helpful for us to know. There were things in the medical records that we were shown, but we couldn’t question. We were told what they felt we needed to know, but later, after the trial was over I spoke with the plaintiff and found out that a ton of questions we had were things that simply weren’t admissible in court. Interesting, no?

Anyway, I’m pretty torn up over this Kelli Stapleton and Issy thing. Wow, how callous of me to call it a “thing”. I just don’t know what to say about it. Ultimately Kelli tried to kill her child and herself. We all know this is wrong. There really isn’t any other answer to that question, right? I mean killing someone is killing someone. Isn’t it?

I’ve read a lot of the responses and comments on Kelli’s blog. They basically range from “string her up” mindset to the “gosh, what a horrible thing for a woman to be pushed to her limit” mindset. And I’ve discussed it a bit on my Facebook page. I’m struck by how people assume they know exactly what they would do in this situation. I find that rather baffling myself. I don’t know what I would do if, say, I were placed in the middle of a battle field and someone started shooting at me. I don’t know what I would do if I were, say, kidnapped and forced into a hole in the ground. I don’t know what I would do if I were mentally tortured every day with no foreseeable way to escape. Maybe I’m different and I just don’t know myself that well, but I actually think it is the way around. I *think* I may actually be more honest with myself and say, I just don’t know what I would do really.

Of course I would hope I have the presence of mind to know right from wrong. To DO right from wrong. But lets face it, we have all done something really, really stupid before. Thank goodness for most of us it didn’t end up with someone dead or dying. Many of us have driven when we had one too many. Many of us have texted while driving. But we lucked out and no one got injured. We knew right from wrong, and we did wrong anyway. Doesn’t make us a bad person over all. Makes us stupid, but not bad.

I know what Kelli did is not the same as making a bad choice about driving. But Kelli lived a life the vast majority of you will never experience. And you should take a minute right now to thank God you won’t. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Ok, done? Good. The life that Kelli lived is so far beyond your normal everyday worries that I can’t begin to describe them to you. She had all the typical crap you deal with every day, but hers was layered with something else. Something more sinister and insidious. She lived with fear. Fear from the moment she got up in the morning to the moment she went to bed at night. Fear for every aspect of her and her child’s life. That fear is what pushed Kelli to make a truly tragic and stupid mistake. But for any one to think they can judge this woman, I will have to say I completely disagree. And I am so glad I will not be sitting in that court room. What she did was wrong, but a better person than I shall have to sit in judgement of her. Fear is powerful and if you have lived with fear for 14 years and saw no light of hope on the horizon, you don’t know what you would be pushed into doing. You can say you do, but you really don’t. Don’t lie to yourself.

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  1. Gilded Thinker says:

    Well said. I feel Kelli knew if no one cared for her child when she,was fighting tooth and nail for her, what would happen if Kelli was gone? Given enough time with it, living in fear of the present, the future, society and your own child could break the strongest of us.

  2. Thank you. I do know Kelli, and I appreciate you understanding that none of us might know what we would do when pushed past our limit. While I don’t know what was going through her mind, I can empathize that she felt she was out of options. Was she thinking clearly? Obviously not. Most people, when they’ve been pushed too far by their circumstances, are not. The brain does its own thing, making the illogical seem logical. Does she need help? Yes. I’m so glad her daughter is doing well and the family is getting support from those around them. I hope Kelli gets the help she needs, too.

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