Justice or Mercy: Case Calls for Choice

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    By Lindsay Crandall

    In a country as litigious as America, it is surprising to see a young boy and his mother choosing instead to forgive and vocally defend a man who almost took a life.

    Bridger Hunt, an 11-year-old boy, was almost killed July 24 in Lehi when a neighbor”s homemade firework exploded and shrapnel ripped through his abdomen and left leg.

    Bridger was flown to Primary Children”s Hospital, minutes from death, but was stabilized. After seven weeks he was sent to live with his grandparents in Pleasant Grove, who converted their basement into a treatment center.

    Craig Miller, a 45-year-old father of three, was charged in the incident and on Oct. 21 pleaded guilty to third-degree felony possession of an explosive device and reckless endangerment. Since July, Miller has expressed regret and sorrow and tried to pay Bridger”s entire medical bill, saying he would sell his house if necessary. Bridger and his mother Mindy Carter-Shaw have both said they are not angry with Miller, and said they want to forgive the man.

    Bruce Barton, an attorney from Layton, commented on the case in a letter to the editor of Deseret News and said, “Mercy cannot rob justice or our societal system would break down.” Prosecutors in the case pressed charges against Miller and told Carter-Shaw they would make an example out of him to others who are recklessly endangering other people.

    Mark O”Neill, a junior from Olympia, Wash., majoring in computer science said it was hard to determine what rights Bridger and his mother should have as citizens involved in a case that is criminal, not civil.

    “It”s a little murky there,” O”Neill said. “The guy who did it knew what he was doing, so there shouldn”t necessarily be no consequences.”

    Some BYU students agree with Carter-Shaw”s forgiving mindset, but find it hard to imagine themselves under the same circumstances.

    “I tend to think I”d make more honorable and kind decisions,” said Tiffany Demings, a sophomore from Richfield majoring in English, “but when it comes right down to it, I can be really harsh. I have no idea, because one, I”ve never been in any kind of situation like that, and two, I”m not good at imagining things.”

    Demings said her first reaction to the news was one of shock.

    “I though, holy cow, that”s a pretty intense firework,” she said. “I”ve had family members alter fireworks. I know they”re not doing that to hurt people.”

    Another student said Miller was just as responsible for his actions as a drunk driver is for causing harm while under the influence.

    “I”m definitely torn,” said Mary Young, a senior from Bakersfield, Calif., majoring in communications disorders. “You can say it was an accident, but he chose to [set off homemade fireworks] in the street. Just like someone gets in a car accident and accidentally kills someone, they were the ones who decided to get drunk or drive drowsy or whatever.”

    Craig Miller will be sentenced Dec. 2. Bridger still has one year of surveillance to determine whether or not his left leg will be amputated.

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