June 13 came and went and here she is, in the "land of the living," as the psalm says. "I will praise you, God, in the land of the living."
Thank you to our hard-working, smart, pro bono lawyers and the head trauma experts, who also gave of their services free of charge. If Cathy had had this kind of legal counsel and forensic evidence expertise at her trial, the state would never have succeeded in painting her as a monster murderess. Because all along, there was her version of what happened in the tragic accident that killed baby Brandon, but Cathy’s trial lawyer’s request for $15,000 to hire a head trauma expert was denied. That’s what happens to poor people who can’t afford to hire their own lawyers and experts. Then, in 1999, when an appeal was sent to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals with a request for funds to allow Cathy experts to do forensic testing of the baby’s injuries, they again denied the funds. So much for "due process of law" and "equal justice under law."
What a double, triple tragedy. The Baugh family gets revictimized by court process, Cathy’s family suffers, and Cathy herself on death watch struggles to maintain her faith and courage as the days of her life bleed away and still no word from the court until two days before her scheduled killing date. Everybody suffers.
My heart rejoices that Cathy was not killed, but I feel deep compassion for the Baugh family. The prosecutors promised 12 years ago that, through Cathy’s death, they would get justice, closure, vindication for little Brandon’s death. What anguish they must now feel, what sense of fresh betrayal.
It’s all so miserably unfair to everyone - these interminable delays and switchbacks in the messed-up criminal justice system.
So, I pray for everyone affected by the Texas court’s recent ruling. Cathy’s case is just one more example of how we humans - frail, flawed, partially-seeing - can’t handle a system of justice that includes death sentences. It causes everyone affected to suffer over and over again.
And, as for redemption…which, as a follower of Jesus, I deeply believe in: is not every human being worth more than their worst act? The Cathy Henderson I have come to know over the past three years is not the drug-influenced, irresponsible woman brought to trial 12 years ago. During her years on death row Cathy has meditated, endured, and agonized over her terrible choices. Spiritually she has already started on the path which seeks reconciliation and healing. In the "land of the living" she will have time to travel this path.