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Four years in exchange for a life?

January 22, 2009 - Betsy Bethel
My heart goes out to the family of Mary Carroll.

I don't understand why Mary's "murderer" received only four years in prison for purposefully running over her best friend and leaving her for dead.

In what universe is this just?

Mary's mother's words at the sentencing were unforgettable. What parent's heart didn't weep when they heard: "When Mary was getting ready on April 16 to go out with her friends, she came to me and asked me if her shoes matched her outfit. ... I got those shoes back the next day with blood on them."

One of those "friends" she went out with that night was Amanda Hudock-Tandell, who was sentenced yesterday in Belmont County after pleading no contest to aggravated vehicular homicide. With friends like Amanda, who needs enemies? It doesn't matter how pink and frilly your shirt is, it doesn't erase the blood from your hands!

I admit, I am not impartial in this matter. My best friend from elementary school is Mary's first cousin. Mary and her three brothers grew up two doors up from my dad in St. Clairsville. Her oldest brother is my age. I serve on a local coalition with one of her cousins who also was one of her best friends. Whenever I visited my dad in the summers, Mary was always around, wanting to play with another girl, even though I was much older.

I didn't know the grown-up Mary. I heard of her death like most people, by reading it in the newspaper. I learned a few more gruesome, heart-wrenching details from a family member. I know alcohol was involved, and a guy. I know the perpetrator made several unforgivable, abominable mistakes, not only purposefully slamming her car into Mary but then fleeing the scene. I am sure she regrets it. I am sure she is in pain. I am sure her family is, too.

But because of Amanda Hudock-Tandell's actions on April 16, Mary is gone forever. I can only pray that this tragedy will serve as a wake-up call to other local young men and women. Amanda's official sentence may be only four years, but she will have to live with her actions for the rest of her life. At least Mary is at peace.

I pray for her family, that somehow they will take comfort in that.


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