Dennis Shepard's Statement to the Court -
"...My son Matthew did not look like a
winner. After all, he was small for his age--weighing, at the most, 110 pounds,
and standing only 5'2" tall. He was rather uncoordinated and wore braces
from the age of 13 until the day he died. However, in his all too brief life,
he proved that he was a winner. My son--a gentle, caring soul--proved that he
was as tough as, if not tougher than, anyone I have ever heard of or known. On
...Matt believed that there were incidents
and crimes that justified the death penalty. For example, he and I discussed
the horrible death of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper,
...Mr. McKinney, I'm going to grant you life,
as hard as that is for me to do, because of Matthew. Every time you celebrate
Christmas, a birthday, or the Fourth of July, remember that Matt isn't. Every
time that you wake up in that prison cell, remember that you had the opportunity
and the ability to stop your actions that night. Every time that you see your
cell mate, remember that you had a choice, and now you are living that choice.
You robbed me of something very precious, and I will never forgive you for
that. Mr. McKinney, I give you life in the memory of one who no longer lives.
May you have a long life, and may you thank Matthew every day for it..."