Tuesday, October 14, 2008

There's always a moment ...

It's 6:08 a.m. and I've been up since about 3:45 a.m. Just couldn't sleep.

I'd like to say it was the Browns big win that kept me up, but it isn't.

I keep thinking about that day 22 years ago ... and I keep thinking that there must have been a moment .. probably a great many .. in which Richard Cooey and Clint Dickens had the opportunity to turn back .. or just stop .. or choose a million other paths than the one they ended up taking. I'm sure Cooey has replayed that moment a lot in the last 24 hours .. and it always ends the same.

I've tried to put myself in the roles of the two families -- Dawn McCreery's is here in mass to witness the execution while Wendy Offredo's has chosen not to attend and to accept today's actions in their own way.

I keep wondering what each person in the room will be thinking when Cooey appears for an entirely different moment. One each family will take away in their own way forever.

His three attorneys will be his witnesses. They've had a lot of time to get to know Cooey behind bars, and maybe they think they already know what's in his head and his heart. Maybe he's confided in them about when the moment hit him in the crime spree on Labor Day 1986. Maybe he's confided the emotions of that moment to his relatives, who must be enduring an entirely different hell today.

22 years locked up. That's 8,000 days and nights. That's a lot of time to prepare. A lot of moments alone for Cooey .. and for his victims' families.

I don't know the McCreerys or the Offredos, but I feel certain that both families have asked themselves a million times about the moments where Cooey could have taken an off ramp instead of plowing down the destructive highway that ensued.

Why couldn't it have ended at the robbery? Why did it have to get violent? Deadly? Why didn't one of these two young men use the moment to look at the other and decide they'd gone to far?

I only wish the McCreery's could get a few minutes to speak their minds to Cooey today insteda of just having to endure his final words, if he chooses to speak.

The Offredo family isn't here, but I know they'll be keeping tabs from afar as to how this day goes. I'll bet they're awake right now too. Unable to sleep with the day's activities just a few hours away. Asking themselves the same questions about the moment so long ago and why no one stepped in to protect their daughter in her time of need.

With our station planning to provide a live web stream from the media room, I can only assume that they'll be watching as the media witnesses emerge from the death chamber to talk about the moment that we've seen.

I hope I choose the right words in describing today's moment so that if the Offredo family and/or anyone else who knew the victims is watching that I say the right things. I know that the words I choose, the phrases and verbs .. and the demeanor in which reporters deliver this story, is a moment they'll remember forever.

That much I know. I can still remember the way my brother's murder was described on the radio and TV news. I can remember the anchors' voice inflection and the way they talked about it.

I always keep that in mind as I read stories on the air. While it may just be another crime story to our broadcasts, it's a once-in-a-lifetime moment for the real people mentioned in those stories.

I just looked over all of the media materials about death row. They gave all of the reporters a schematic of the death chamber to include details about how many steps it takes to get from the bunk to the table. There's lots of data on the three drugs administered to stop the inmate's life and also a list of those who will be present.

I didn't know until just now that the Sheriff of the County where the crime was committed has the right to attend. If Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander will be here today, I wasn't aware.
As a reporter, I wish I could deliver the information the viewers really want to know today.

While I know that my story will be based on facts and observations, what viewers really want to know is what the hell happened in that moment 22 years ago that two men chose a route of pure evil and two women had to die like this?

I wish I had the answers to those questions .. for that would be a much better story worth telling.

I need to shower and get ready .. I'll be blogging from the media room, inside the prison, as soon as they let us get in and set up.

Wish me luck. Eric

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