When Christy Robel stopped at a Kansas City sandwich shop on Feb. 22, 2000, little did she know her life would change forever. To make the quick trip into the shop, she left the car keys in the ignition and the car running. She also left her 6 year-old son Jake carefully strapped into the car seat on the passenger side. And then it happened.
Kim Davis, 36, saw an opportunity. He jumped into the car and began to pull away. Christy Robel saw what was happening and ran out of the sandwich shop. She tried frantically to pull Jake from the tangled seat belt as Davis began to accelerate. But the boy was caught in the seat belt - half in the car, half out. Davis headed rapidly toward Interstate 70 to make his escape in the stolen vehicle. He claims he was unaware that Jake was being dragged at high speeds during the theft.
Jake was killed in the incident and Davis was charged with murder. A jury Tuesday spared him the death penalty and sentenced him to life in prison without parole. We'll never know fully if justice was served in this case. But regardless, it won't diminish the tragedy.
Both sides in this tragic saga made their case before the jury Tuesday. Christy Robel told of the sleepless nights and the daily depression over the death of her son. Kim Davis' family told of his love for children and his tragic upbringing that included the death of his father and the deaths of two siblings.
In the end the jury spared Davis' life. And maybe that's justice in itself.
Maybe Kim Davis will live a long life behind bars. Maybe every day - no every minute of every day - Kim Davis will think of the horrible death of a 6-year-old boy. Maybe he'll cry. Maybe he'll ask for forgiveness. Maybe he'll wonder how his life would have been different had he not committed this senseless crime and taken a young life.
Perhaps the jury Tuesday thought of the misery that will surely follow Davis for years to come. Maybe death would have been too easy. Time may be Kim Davis' worst enemy because time will give him the opportunity to think of that fateful day and the life he took.
Justice sometimes is served swiftly and sometimes very, very slowly. For Kim Davis, all he has now is time and the memory of that day. And maybe that's the way it should be.