The Death Penalty Will Only Cause Me More Pain

Robert Kerr with his niece and sister Judy Kerr

My brother, Robert James Kerr, was found lifeless, shirtless, barefoot, and without identification on July 12, 2003 in Everett, Washington. It took weeks for investigators to identify him. I spent that time becoming increasingly worried and finally alarmed when he did not arrive for a scheduled visit and when my calls to his cell phone were answered by a stranger.

Bob was brutally beaten and strangled. His financial accounts were used for weeks after his murder. Bob had given up his PIN number and other personal information on the night of the crime. The coroner’s report confirmed the horrible circumstances under which the information was obtained.

In the days and weeks that followed my brother’s murder I was immobilized by the trauma. I craved information about who killed him. I wanted this person, this criminal, brought to justice. I wanted to be able to tell my daughter that society would find a just way to respond to this merciless act.

I am still waiting, four years later, for a suspect to be named and for justice to take its course. It has been agonizing for me to go through the pain and grief of Bob’s violent death. But the possibility of the death penalty for the murderer is an additional burden and a cruel twist that adds to my sense of victimization.

I have never and will never support the death penalty. I know now, more than ever, that killing is wrong. Revenge will not bring my brother back and it will not bring me peace. I honor my brother’s life and my memory of him by standing against the practice of delivering justice through execution.

— Judy Kerr, Robert’s sister


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