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We stand with the Rizzo family

If you noticed last week, Gary Sampson was sentenced to death for the vicious murder of three completely innocent people.  One of the victims was college student Jonathan Rizzo.  Jonathan was a volunteer for Christmas in the City.  He was leaving his summer job, when a stranger approached him and asked him if he could get a ride.  Jonathan, in his compassionate and generous manner, obliged.  He had no idea that this would be his last act of kindness.

I, along with 99.9% of the population, cannot truly imagine what it would be like to lose a son, a brother – at the prime of his life- because a deranged madman wanted to go on a killing spree.  Jonathan’s parents, Mike and Mary, and his brothers, Nicholas and Elliot, not only had to experience this horror, but somehow function and carry on as the trial dragged on year after year.  It took ten years for Sampson to be finally sentenced to death.  Then that verdict was overturned, and the ordeal dragged on.  Finally, this week,  a jury ruled again, and the death sentence was delivered.

Is a death sentence a way to bring healing and a resolution to an unbearable loss?  Again, I cannot speak for the Rizzo family, but I sincerely hope it ends the non-stop news coverage and notoriety for Gary Sampson, who is such a heinous individual. Of course, there is never resolution, but I sincerely hope that, for all the members of the Rizzo family, this is another step toward a life celebrating Jonathan’s life, and not having to have their lives revolve about the next court appearance and the fallibility of the justice system.

Should we in favor or against the death penalty?   This is the easiest answer. Whatever the victim’s family decides is absolutely the right choice. For this reason, I, as a former staunch critic of the death penalty, stood up an applauded this decision, and the justice and relief it extended to the Rizzo family.

After Jonathan’s death, the Rizzo family has continued to support Christmas in the City in so many ways.  Our organization will never forget Jonathan. We extend our gratitude and eternal support to the Rizzo family, and we send them our love and support.  There is no family we respect more, and there is no better example of courage and resolute fortitude than what has been displayed by this remarkable family in the face of their unspeakable tragedy.