In 2004, a man by the name of Willie Joe McAdams was put in jail for the attempted murder of Cedric Thomas. Because my search skills suck I was not able to find any information on the crime so I don’t know why McAdams wanted to kill Cedric but based on the little bit I did find, it may have had something to do with drugs (McAdams being on them rather than a drug deal gone wrong).
McAdams was sentenced to 40 years in prison but due to a clerical error was released on May 4, 2007 after serving only four years. (Yes, I know the math doesn’t work out quite right. The only thing I can think of is that the judge included time served.) However, that’s not the strange part. Instead of bolting off into the underground to avoid the law and perhaps make a new life for himself, McAdams hunts down his victim and…apologizes.
According to an article in the Houston Chronicle:
When McAdams was sentenced in 2004 to 40 years in prison for shooting Cedric Thomas in the head, Thomas thought it was a just punishment.
While enjoying himself at a bar during the Fourth of July weekend, Thomas was shocked when McAdams approached him, shook his hand and apologized.
“What if he still had malice in his heart and wanted to kill me,” said Thomas, who lost an eye in the March 2003 sports bar shooting.
Full article can be read here.
Thomas brings up a valid question. After all, we have all heard the horrifying tales of inmates being released from jail only to be returned because they committed a horrible crime. But in this case McAdams seemed to have gotten over his ill feelings towards Thomas. I wonder what happened to McAdams in those four years that turned him around? And what happens now that, it seems, he is a changed man?
It is a given that McAdams will go back to jail. After all, he did commit a crime and at the minimum he will have to serve 16 more years. Texas law requires that inmates complete at least half of the time before becoming eligible for parole. I am more interested in the human aspect. By his actions, McAdams has asked Thomas for forgiveness for his past mistakes. I wonder if Thomas is able and willing to give it. Will he learn from McAdams mistake and forgive and let go? Or will he too hold onto his anger and let it rule his life? And has McAdams’ actions changed, even a little bit, the public opinion that once a criminal always a criminal?
I believe people deserve second chances especially when they do something that proves that they have changed. We are all gloriously imperfect and we make mistakes and I don’t believe that we should punish ourself or each other for them for the entirety of our lives. The only time I tell people to talk to the hand is when they keep making the same mistakes over and over again. To me that means they either can not or will not change and therefore I need not waste my time.
It interests me also that many of the people in the comment section called McAdams an idiot for NOT running to a country that does not have an extradition agreement with the U.S. which only increases my respect for McAdams. He could have run but he didn’t. Instead he decided to own up to his mistake and try to make amends. I don’t think that’s stupid. I think it’s smart and courageous and I think that if more people followed McAdams’ example that some of the problems we experience as a society would be alleviated.
So what do you think? Do believe in second chances? Do you think he should have run? Could you forgive someone who tried to kill you?