Killing parents has became national pastime for two unfortunate Black Georgians
Zachery and Yvonne Ervin, both age 50, chose to publicly “forgive” their sons, Cameron, 22, and Christopher, 17, who drugged, beat and stabbed them in an attempt to kill them so they could “cash in on their life insurance.”
On Sept. 5, the Ervin boys drugged their unsuspecting parents with Xanax, a medication prescribed for anxiety issues, stress and panic attacks, which can produce a drowsy feeling.
Yvonne was strangled and beaten; and Zachery, who police say received the brunt of the attack, was strangled and stabbed at their Gwinnett County Georgia home, in unincorporated Snellville, a suburban Atlanta community.
Yvonne was able to call the Gwinnett County Police Department via 911 at 7:49 a.m. while her husband distracted their sons. When law enforcement arrived, they found a bloodied Zachery in the garage and Yvonne alerted them that she had been drugged and doused with a flammable liquid.
While the nearly successful attempt on their lives stunned the local community and anger resonated around the world, the parents asked that we “Pray for their mercy.”
Forgiveness is a very Christian thing to do. It’s taught in many chapters throughout the Holy Bible:
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV)
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13 NIV)
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” (Matthew 18: 21-22 NIV)
“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.” (2 Corinthians 2:5-8 NIV)
“Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:4 – 6 NIV)
Following this line of thinking, the parents — the victims — have asked us to be merciful. In an interview with “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts, Zachary Ervin says, “Our kids had one bad moment. It was one bad moment. … We told them that we love them unconditionally. We told them that we forgive them.”
Yvonne adds, “People don’t know our sons. I ask people to just take it personally. [Think], ‘What if it was your child?’ ”
“There [are] people who are incarcerated now that have had one bad day,” Zachary says. “There are people where rage has caused them to have one bad moment.” He confirms, “I pray for mercy.”
Over 25 years ago, Erik and Lyle Menendez murdered their parents in their Beverly Hills mansion on Aug. 20, 1989, and became a national sensation. They shot their parents with a shotgun. Similar in age to the Ervin brothers, Erik was 18, Lyle 21.
Back then we thought, this kind of thing doesn’t happen in the Black community.
Yes, it can happen in the Black community.
The Menendez brothers were tried together in 1994, but with separate juries both deadlocked between murder and manslaughter convictions. During the retrial, the jury rejected the brothers’ abuse defense, convicting them of two counts each of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. In 1996, both brothers were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Speaking on a topic unrelated to this case, Bishop Neil C. Ellis, senior pastor of Mt. Tabor Baptist Church in Nassau, Bahamas, recently sermonized, “Mercy means not getting what you deserve. Yet, God spares his hand and not give you what you deserve based on your behavior.”
As we reflect on the horrible things, the pain and suffering, these incorrigible siblings inflicted on their parents, should the court of public opinion honor the father and mother’s wishes and pray for their mercy? We were dragged into this case because we’re compassionate and empathize with their grief, but at the same time, we’re appalled the parents are asking that we don’t seek retribution and their sons to be held to the letter of the law.
The Ervin brothers have been charged with aggravated assault and arson. They tried to blow up their parents’ home using candles and the fireplace powered by natural gas. It’s speculated that the motive was cash, but the exact reasons for the attack remain unclear.