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Donna, 60, Redway, California

My only daughter, Marcella, was raped and murdered in 1984 at the age of seven. It has been a journey of pain, hurt, sadness and finally the relief of forgiveness.

I said some things when Troy [the man who killed Marcella] was convicted that I thought I felt at the time. Through the journey, I have challenged my old beliefs (ignorance, biases, fears) and prayed and worked toward new ways. One is that of forgiveness. I was able to forgive Troy fairly early but not the adult Troy. Rather I forgave that frightened abused child that he was.

Troy sits on death row in San Quentin. I wrote a letter through the chaplain over a year ago stating my forgiveness and hope for Troy. I have not heard anything more.

I believe that forgiveness has allowed me to experience great joy in my life. I feel that I show great respect for my daughter's life through forgiveness. Even though we all have a path, I know for sure that we can help each other along the way. I am so impressed with those who can forgive immediately. I pray and take strength from the fact that it is humanly possible to do such a thing. It is my hope and prayer that as we know better, we can do better and the world and all of us in it will reap the rewards.
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