EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

January 19, 2014

Your view: Letters to the editor

Help keep Brodie’s killer in prison

To the editor:

It was the fall of 1992. Beth Brodie, a beautiful young girl, had just made the varsity cheerleading squad of which I was one of the captains.

One day after practice, we did what we had done so many times before. We piled into my car and drove around laughing and singing. This is indelibly etched in my mind as the last time I was to hear Beth talk, laugh, or share her joy. I can still see her smiling face in my rear view mirror.

The next day Beth was murdered. Her killer was at a mutual friend’s house, angry that Beth did not want to date him. He convinced his friend to bring Beth back to his house so they could talk. Richard Baldwin waited and soon his friend and Beth arrived. Beth went upstairs to tell her friend that Baldwin threatened to kill her. Baldwin then appeared in the doorway with a bat. He asked if she was afraid and said, “I always wanted to be a baseball player.” He then bludgeoned her with a baseball bat.

Baldwin was sentenced to life without parole due to the “deliberate premeditation and extreme atrocity or cruelty” of his crime.

Beth’s family found out this Christmas Eve that the Supreme Judicial Court had struck down life sentences without parole for juveniles. According to the court, it is cruel to sentence a youth to lifelong imprisonment because their brains were not fully developed when they committed their crimes. The ruling is retroactive therefore Baldwin will now be eligible for parole after serving 21 years.

At 16, he was able to lure Beth to him, ask if she was afraid, and strike her several times with a baseball bat as she tried to block each blow. Juveniles’ brains may not be fully developed but I am willing to bet that the majority of juveniles, if asked, would know that bludgeoning someone to death with a bat is not acceptable behavior.

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