Three teens are being charged as adults in the beating death of 57-year-old Kevin Cullen. 14-year-old Brandon Conrad and 16-year-old Malik Page are being charged with Criminal Conspiracy, Murder, Robbery and related offenses. 17-year-old Emmanual Harris is being charged with Attempted Murder, Aggravated Assault, Robbery and related offenses.
The details of the attack are horrifying. The three murderers are seen on a home surveillance camera following Cullen, who was homeless, making jokes and laughing at his expense. Then, when they are off screen, they viciously attack him and beat him to death. The beating was so bad, so vile, one witness described it this way:
"They were laughing, like it was funny," one resident told Action News last week. "They hit his head into a wall so hard I felt it in my house on the second floor."
Stop and consider the degree of callousness and pitilessness that must be in a person’s heart to do that to another human being, not out of revenge, retaliation, or retribution for something, but simply for fun. Imagine the sound of Cullen’s head hitting that wall so hard that it jarred the second floor of the resident’s home.
It’s pure evil.
Kevin Cullen was one of six children in his family, but even after hitting hard times and ending up on the streets, he refused to leave his childhood hometown. He was known by several in the community, and even in the aftermath of the attack as he laid dying, received comfort from a woman named Dawn who wouldn’t leave his side while he was conscious and awaiting emergency care.
Kevin Cullen’s life was valuable. He may not have accounted for much material worth here on earth, but Kevin Cullen bore the inviolable image of His Creator. That means his life was of the highest value. For our society to set the “price” of his life as something like 30 years, 40 years, or even lifetime in prison for his murderers cheapens what should be of the highest possible value. If we claim to believe in the sanctity of human life, any penalty less than the life of his killers is unacceptable and undermines our stated belief.
This isn’t hard. It’s precisely why in God’s everlasting covenant with man, made in the days following Noah’s flood and signified as everlasting through God’s universal rainbow, He affirms that “whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” That’s not an expectation of a cruel God or one that lacks compassion. It’s the expectation of a God who knows and respects the value of each being made in His image.
We should too.