By Emily Geiger
The verdict is in.
It’s what a huge number of Iowans have been waiting to find out… whether Mark Becker would be found guilty of murder for killing Aplington Parkersburg Coach Ed Thomas, or whether he would be found not guilty by reason of insanity.
The jury came back with a conviction for first degree murder.
I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this, but ultimately, I think the jury made the right decision. Of course this young man had mental problems. That was obvious. But the legal standard for insanity is pretty high. According to my lawyer friends, Becker pretty much would have had to have believed that he was shooting a deer, not a person, for him to be legally insane.
While he wrongfully believed Thomas was a bad, even an evil person, it was still clear that Becker knew he was shooting his former coach, a human being, and that doing so was against the law.
I totally agree that Becker needs help. He needs to be on medication. Unfortunately, that’s the biggest problem with treating mentally ill people. They often don’t want to take their prescribed medication, or if they do take their meds and start to feel better, they often think they can stop taking their meds, and then they get worse again.
The good news is that, in prison, Mark Becker will have to take his medication, and he probably will improve. The bad news is that he won’t be free to enjoy that improvement.
I do believe the public will be safer with this outcome, and that’s a good thing. That doesn’t make any of this any easier. One amazing man is still gone. Two loving families are still forever changed.
Yet, the strength and grace both of these families continue to show is amazing. And it’s clear where that strength and grace come from.
Perhaps Mark Becker’s mom, Joan Becker, said it best. “God is with us, God is going to continue to give us strength to move forward and heal. And we are going to continue to give glory to God.”
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