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Must a teen involved in a crime seek forgiveness from the family of their victims? That's the debate about one of the attendees at the State of the Union last night.

When 15 year old Damien Bynoe and two friends took a gun and went to settle a dispute, 15 year old Korey Grant and 11 year old Charles Copney, Jr. wound up dead. Public outcry over the case led Massachusetts politicians to pass one of the country's toughest juvenile crime laws. One of those two friend was Will Dunn, who was jailed for his involvement as an accomplice in the 1991 murder.

Last night Will Dunn sat to the one row behind the First Lady at the invitation of the White House. The New York Times referred to him as "Will Dunn, street gang outreach worker and mentor, Dorchester, Mass." He was there to serve as an example of someone who turned his life around from a life of gang violence.

The parents of one of Dunn's victims aren't too thrilled with this turn of events, since they claim Dun has never apologized to them.

Scott Miller from Boston talk radio station WRKO has much more on the story.

Update: One thing that Miller's story doesn't make clear is that, from the limited information I've been able to find, Dunn was not the shooter. Dunn was a juvenile at the time, and the case is so old that there's no way for me to determine if Dunn was an active participant in the shooting or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Clearly Dunn has cleaned up his act, the question is whether that alone is enough...


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Comments (24)

Must a teen (or "little bas... (Below threshold)

Must a teen (or "little bastard") seek forgiveness from the false gods of blogging (B4B and C&C) for "stealing an Instalanche"?


Must? Of course not. Should... (Below threshold)

Must? Of course not. Should? Of course. The root question revolves around repentance, which should be a key componant of judging when enough punishment has been imposed. Sadly our system is not sophisticated enough to deal with something this subtle- which speaks loudly to the limitiations of our legal system.

I'm normally a big supporte... (Below threshold)

I'm normally a big supporter of this president. However, inviting a murderer to sit with your wife is an incredibly stupid idea. I don't care whether he has apologized or not he didn't belong at the SOTU. How many of us have lived law abiding lives and not been invited to a SOTU speech.

Jesus dined with sinners.</... (Below threshold)

Jesus dined with sinners.

LargeBill, are you falling into the older brother of the prodigal son mentality?

Absolutely he should apolog... (Below threshold)

Absolutely he should apologize. And should have done so publicly and openly and often. He should grovel. He should beg. And most of all, he shouldn't expect his apology to be accepted.

Come on guys..... there is no solice for taking the life of your child.

He was not a good choice and this is the tar on the shoes of an elegant ensemble.

I'm sure he was there court... (Below threshold)
Jack Tanner:

I'm sure he was there courtesy of Rev. Eugene Rivers who is a big supporter of Bush on Faith Based and no he was not the shooter.

My opinion is no matter how... (Below threshold)

My opinion is no matter how old the person is now, they were somehow involved in the killing of another human being. I've waited for over 25 years for the kid who killed my husband to come to me and apologize and let me know how that affected their life as it has affected mine.

yes, they definitely should apologize. You can't really move on without that closure.


How old was Dunn at the tim... (Below threshold)

How old was Dunn at the time of the murders? Though it says he was jailed for his involvement as an accomplice, it does not say if he was convicted or pled guilty or was even charged. Defendants make statements of apology either personally or through their attorneys at the time of sentencing. Also, when there is a conviction, parole/probation officers and/or the judge often require a letter of apology to the victim. So, who knows what the full story is here.

I dont see where it states ... (Below threshold)

I dont see where it states how old Dunn was. Lets say he was 15 at the time(same age as the shooter).

At 15 yrs old, I would like to believe that you have the ability to decern right from wrong. Especially when murder comes into play. Most states feel that kids are responsible enough to drive at 16.

I am all for capital punishment and from the article, the kids responsible took the gun and went looking for the other 2 kids. That is premeditated. They had plenty of time to think about their actions berfore they had the confrontation and I for one feel that they should be held accountable, the same as an adult.

If these kids had the prescense of mind to
a) find a gun
b) load the gun
c) find their targets
d) kill their targets

Then they sure as hell had plenty of time to think about what they were doing.

Dunn should have tried to stop Bynoe. Since he (Dunn)willingly followed him and supported him, he should be charged with murder the same as Bynoe.

Sure, people can change. But does that help the families of the victims???

I will say this much, if someone...anyone killed my wife or one of my kids, they had better pray that they never meet me face to face. I dont care if they are 15 or 50.

Okay, I answered my own que... (Below threshold)

Okay, I answered my own questions. Dunn was 16 y/o at the time of the homicides. He spent five years in prison first awaiting trial on murder charges and later on a conviction for possessing the murder weapon. Which seems to mean he was found either not guilty of the murder and instead guilty of gun possession. Or, that he received a plea bargain because the state could not make the case.

Gee, LargeBill, they allowe... (Below threshold)

Gee, LargeBill, they allowed Ted Kennedy to attend, so I guess being a murderer has nothing to do with getting admission.

Personally, I think Dunn should apologize. If he does, he should be left alone. However, nobody can force him to do it. I don't think it's the government's job to force somebody to apologize, especially if they don't mean it.

Forcing an apology isn't go... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Forcing an apology isn't going to mean anything.

Also, I wonder if the victim's family would forgive, even if an apology was offered.

As for what he is doing now-if he served his time, and is now doing something good for society rather than killing more people, then I don't see what the problem is. I would much rather see somebody turn their life around and be held up as an example or what others can do, than grind their face in it forever.

If a person has an issue with the sentence, then you work to change the laws, but this kid did his time, and appears to be trying to prevent other kids from making the same mistakes.

JustMe: Apologizing, whethe... (Below threshold)

JustMe: Apologizing, whether the family accepts it or not, is part of taking reponsibility for one's actions -- and it is never too late to do so. It's also possible to apologize and turn one's life around. :-)

You are right that apologiz... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

You are right that apologizing is part of taking responsibility, but if the apology is forced, it probably doesn't mean much anyway. The question wasn't whether or not he should apologize, but whether or not it should be forced.

I don't believe juvenile co... (Below threshold)
tee bee:

I don't believe juvenile courts encourage the kids to make statements, judging by experience with California's system (even if they are 21 by the time sentencing rolls around).

Julie is right about the apology; it's possible Dunn believes he's made one and the family are unaware - doesn't let Dunn off the hook. and turning his life around may make him an example but not a role model. many people fill grueling slots doing social work and never get more than a substandard paycheck to go with their personal satisfaction, let alone any gratitude from the people and communities they serve.

the White House could have found a better example/role model, even among ex-gang members.

JustMe: Since Dunn's workin... (Below threshold)

JustMe: Since Dunn's working in an outreach program, I would hope that he would practice what he's preaching to other's. Otherwise, he's going to have serious problems. When someone can't or won't feel empathy for their victim, it does indicate to the court that they are not making progress in their rehabilitation, so to speak. Which is a good thing to find out *before* parole is granted.

teebee: I work in Calif. It depends on the court and county.

Put it this way: Some apolo... (Below threshold)

Put it this way: Some apologies are so f*cking scary, it is better to find out now than later.

To be contrarian, I'd think... (Below threshold)

To be contrarian, I'd think that apologizing in a case like this would be incredibly selfish (unless perhaps he explicitly said that he knew his apology wouldn't be accepted.) An apology is a mending of fences and sometimes that's just not possible. And perhaps he figured the last thing the mother of the victim wanted to see was his face. (Granted she shouldn't have been seeing it on the State of the Union address with the President's wife either.)

I feel very weird doing thi... (Below threshold)

I feel very weird doing this but I am compelled to defend the President here. If I understand anything about evangelical christians it would be the concept of redemption. It is strange to hear so many supporters of the president attack the presence of someone who represents that very concept. Considering this bit from the SOTU:

"Tonight I propose a three-year initiative to help organizations keep young people out of gangs."

is Dunn's presence all that offensive? I don't normally reference the bible but didn't Jesus say something about he who is without sin casting the first stone? Anyway, just to keep the rep up, I should note that the WH cut spending to curb gang violence by by 40% last year, so while I agree with the sentiment, and Dunn's symbolic presence, the President's words ring pretty hollow to me.

The Boston <a href="http://... (Below threshold)
Jack Tanner:

The Boston Herald has a lot of coverage on this and my pal Rev. Rivers did arrange for Dunn to be their. I doubt very much that GWB had any idea who the person was.

From the Herald link:... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

From the Herald link:

"The volley of criticism came as a surprise to the White House, which had been told the victims' families would not object to Dunn's State of the Union appearance.

``We certainly made inquiries about the families and were assured that was not an issue,'' a White House official said. ``Our understanding from the individual we worked with was the families did not have a problem.'' "

I thought that was rather interesting. Seems like somebody dropped the ball somewhere, if this is the case.

Or they were setup - these ... (Below threshold)

Or they were setup - these people are from Massachusetts.

Korey Grant is my brother a... (Below threshold)
Kim Hall:

Korey Grant is my brother and our families are appalled at this entire situation. Dunn was tried as an Juvenile for 2 murders, one being an 11 year-old, Charles Copney. We were railroaded by the justice system all 3 criminals who were responsible for the death of my brother and Charles Copney should have been tried as adults, but were tried as Juveniles and served 5 years for killing 2 people. An apology is useless to me, nothing is going to bring Korey back. No Dunn did not pull the trigger, be he aided and abedded, which in my eyes makes him just as guilty, not once did he stop or did he choose to not take part in both murders. Our families fought to change the laws of this state so no other family would have to go through what we went through and to see the person who murdered our brother standing so happily behind Laura Bush was shocking, disturbing and distressing.

Dunn, keep your useless, sorry, stinking, rat and maggot infested apology. You're a no good loser in my eyes and will always be, despite your crummy redemption. Reverend Rivers you should be ashamed of yourself, how dare you? For those of you who don't know anything about this case and quick to take Rivers side, how would you feel if your brother, son, daughter was killed by a scumbag who was now at the whitehouse because he has been good for 14 years? Also,Peter Gelzinis of the Herald has written dozens of articles about this if you want and need details and facts. So what the murders happened 14 years, MY BROTHER and CHARLES are missed EVERY DAY of those 14 and counting...

Let them rest in Peace. Keep murderers behind bars instead of behind the Presidents wife.

I followed this story over ... (Below threshold)

I followed this story over the years and I know for a fact Rev Rivers did a stupid thing by referring Dunn to the White House. With all the murders that have taken place in this city, not many families continue to speak out. However in this particular matter we continue to know how this senseless crime affected both families. For the Reverend, he should have known this is too sensitive an issue to confront family and media about. You ask yourself "Is it too late to call someone at 2am?" Out of respect you say, maybe I shouldn't. That is how this matter should have been handled. He didn't need to be a messenger. Out of all the folks who have changed their lives, this foolish man chose a murderer of 2 children. Some folks can't handle jail and change right away...Big Deal. If Dunn wasn't involved in this horrible crime, he would be a nobody, but at the expense of 2 innocent children, sitting in front of their house, he gets an invitation to where? That is disgusting. No apologies needed.






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