In an act as generous as it is tragic, the family members of Michael Greenwood, who was killed in 1999 by on-the-run convict Kenneth Williams, bought plan tickets for Williams' daughter and grand-daughter so they could see him before his execution in Arkansas on Thursday evening.
Kayla Greenwood, Michael Greenwood's daughter, said she had learned of Jasmine Johnson and her 3-year-old daughter just a few days ago via a Youcaring.com fundraising page established for the families of inmates on death row.
"When I read Jasmine's story about not being able to see her dad for 17 years, wishing that her dad could meet her daughter, I felt the exact same way," Greenwood told reporters, "and I immediately was like, 'We need to give that to her.'"
Michael Greenwood's widow, Stacey, and Greenwood's stepfather then flew Jasmine and her daughter from Washington to Little Rock, Arkansas. For Jasmine, it was a chance to see her father one last time, but for Williams' little grand-daughter, it was both a first introduction and a final goodbye.
"They did all this just for me and my daughter," said Johnson to reporters. "[Even] considering, you know, the things he's done to them and their family."
Kenneth Williams is one of 11 Arkansas inmates the state is executing in unprecedented swiftness. He was convicted of murdering Dominique "Nikki" Hurd and Jerrell Jenkins in 1999 and received a life sentence. However, three weeks later, he escaped prison and shot and killed Cecil Boren in his home, stealing his truck and driving to Missouri. There, he rammed into delivery man Michael Greenwood, killing him instantly. When Williams was recaptured, the jury gave him the death sentence.
Despite how Williams permanently altered her life and the lives of her loved ones, Kayla Greenwood forwarded him a message of forgiveness through his attorney. In the message she also shared the good news that his family would be coming to see him.
"When he found out that we are bringing his daughter and granddaughter to see him and that my mom and dad bought the tickets, he was crying to the attorney," Kayla Greenwood told ABC News.
Kayla Greenwood said that she felt conflicted about Williams' sentence as, in general, she is opposed to the death penalty. She and her family pleaded for clemency for Williams, but the family of Cecil Boren asked that the state move forward with the execution.
"The other families, if they need this for closure, I'm not going to deprive them of this," Michael Greenwood's son, Michael Greenwood Jr., acquiesced.
The Boren family will reportedly witness Williams' execution.
“We just live two miles from the prison, so he’s still right down there. Every time I go down the highway, or back up the highway, I look over there, and I know he’s there," Genie Boren, Cecil Boren's wife of 34 years, told ABC7.
“We are looking forward to this happening so we can put it behind us," she added.
It is difficult for those who have not had someone dear to them murdered to pass judgment on the reactions of those living through the tragedy. The story of the Greenwoods, the Borens, the Johnsons, and Williams is one that the general public can only watch from afar.
We see their anger, and we flinch. We get a glimpse their sadness, and we wonder if we should turn our heads. We witness their kindness, and it takes our breath away.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Pexels