Nancy Langert watched the killer put a gun to the back of her husband's head and pull the trigger. Huddled in a corner, Nancy lifted her arms to her head when the gun swung toward her. Two shots ripped into her pregnant belly. The killer fled.
Nancy lived for 15 more minutes, dragging herself to a shelf in the basement of her home and banging on it with a heavy tool. Nobody heard. She dragged herself by the elbows again, over to her husband. Next to his body Nancy used her own blood to leave a dying declaration: the shape of a heart and the letter "u."
Twenty-five years later, Nancy's sister Jeanne Bishop has written a book about the murders, the murderer, and the power of forgiveness. More broadly, Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace With My Sister's Killer is a faith-based argument against the death penalty.
Polls suggests that a solid but shrinking majority of Americans support the death penalty for convicted murders. According to Gallup, the justification most often provided by death-penalty supporters is biblically rooted: "An eye for an eye/they took a life/fits the crime."
Bishop's faith was tested by the murders of her sister, her brother-in-law, and their unborn child. "I had built up a steam of anger and indignation at God for allowing this senseless slaughter." She found little comfort in the conviction of the teenage killer, David Biro, or his sentence of life without parole. "Somehow," writes the criminal defense attorney and activist, "it didn't seem enough."