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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Leigh Eason, Fuquay-Varina NC

Leigh Eason was 11 when her uncle, Florida State Trooper Ronald Smith, was shot and killed in the line of duty. She remembers her uncle as an “unbelievably good person. I don’t think there was ever a person in need who crossed his path the he didn’t try to do something for.” After the murder, Leigh’s family was drawn immediately into focusing more on the killer and his trial than on her uncle and their loss. The experience had horrible effect on family members. Her grandfather committed suicide and her mother suffered a heart attack, both after bouts with severe depression.

It took 25 years for Leigh’s mother to say that she was glad the killer had not been executed. “She seems to be finally at peace,” Leigh says. “It makes me sad for the other victims’ family members who will never have the chance to get to that point of peace in their lives.”

Leigh is a founding member of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, and helps organize the American Friends Service Committee’s program opposing the death penalty.

Reprinted with permission from Not In Our Name: Murder Victims Families Speak Out Against the Death Penalty, a publication of Murder Victims Families For Reconciliation, Barbara Hood & Rachel King, Editors; MVFR


  • Board of Directors Journey of Hope 2001-2003
  • Board of Directors Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation 1998-1999


“Victims’ families need time to grieve and support from people who are focused on helping them heal. Nobody – prosecutors or abolitionists – should profess to “help” them if they have an ulterior motive. Too often, literature given to victims by the prosecution promotes the death penalty because that is what the prosecution wants. Families are under a lot of pressure to support the death penalty and are made to feel they aren’t doing enough for their murdered loved one if they want something different. When my uncle was murdered, the focus of most discussions with the prosecutor was how to make sure his killer got executed. Nobody wanted to discuss the alternative of life without parole, which I would have supported. More painfully, nobody really wanted to talk about my uncle and the grief that I felt.”