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Dear Governor, Please don't Execute the Man who Murdered my Father

In a moving letter to the governor of Arkansas, Kayla Greenwood asks that the man who killed her father be saved

‘It is the changed man; the new Kenneth Williams that we are asking you to save.’ Photograph: AP

Dear Governor Hutchinson,

My name is Kayla Greenwood. Kenneth Williams killed my father and tonight, he will be executed. I am writing on behalf of my family to ask that you spare Mr Williams’ life.

It would be dishonest to say that this is an easy thing to do. It is not. When he took my father from us, Mr Williams caused us all a great deal of pain. We still miss him and we still hurt. That does not mean that asking you spare Mr Williams is not the right thing to do. It is.

By asking you to spare Mr Williams’ life we are in no way asking you to ignore the pain felt by the victims of Mr Williams’ other crimes. We know what they are going through but ours is a pain that we have decided not to try and cure by seeking an execution. His execution will not bring my father back or return to us what has been taken, but it will cause additional suffering.

I learned Mr Williams had a daughter from an interview where he spoke about her and wanting to meet his granddaughter. Her name is Jasmine and we are the same age. I also learned that Jasmine had a Go Fund Me page set up to raise money so she could travel to see her dad one last time before his execution. I immediately knew I needed to talk to her so we could help her see her father.

My family paid for Jasmine and her daughter’s flight, picked them up at the airport and drove them to the prison. Yesterday, I waited outside the prison while Jasmine and her daughter visited with Mr Williams.

Watching her leave the prison and knowing that was probably their last goodbye broke my heart. Jasmine had done nothing at all but like me, she could lose her father. If Mr Williams is executed, her loss, her pain will be as real as mine. I do not wish this on anyone.

Jasmine told me that when she saw her father and talked to him she knew he was a different man. He was a man of love and gratitude for the opportunity to say his last goodbye. I have come to learn that he is man who counsels and helps people who may be in a dark place because they never felt love, or were victims of a horrible upbringing that caused trauma and hurt.

Because he once knew that same dark place, Mr Williams could connect and show people that from even the darkest of places, you can always come out and change and help others to see right from wrong.

Being there for others, no matter what, and showing what true pure unconditional love is and feels like, that is the closest we can get to God in this physical world. I know Mr Williams has and will change people he meets for the better and alive, he can make a positive difference and I believe that is the most beautiful story of justice.

I also believe in second, even third chances because I know people can change.

You often hear stories of men who go into prison and become bitter, angry and hateful. I do not believe Mr Williams is one of those men. He found God and I believe his redemption is genuine. Mr Williams is not the same person who killed my father on 4 October 1999. It is the changed man; the new Kenneth Williams that we are asking you to save.

My family was not aware that Mr Williams had requested clemency and that we could have testified at his clemency hearing. If we had known, we would have spoken to the parole board and told them that we did not want Mr Williams executed. Maybe we could have made difference.

My family also requested an opportunity to meet with Mr Williams but it was denied. We just wanted to tell him that we forgave him and thought it was important to do that face to face. It would be one way for us to get closure.

We would still like to do that. We would also like to meet with you. If we met, you would know that our wishes are sincere. If we sat and talked about loss and forgiveness from where we sit, you might also forgive Mr Williams and spare his life.


Kayla Greenwood



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