Her name is Latisha Lawson, a 31 year old mother of two, one dead, and the other, scarred for life. Latisha has been found guilty of strangulating her 3 year old son, Jezaih. Here are some excerpts from what Latisha said on the witness stand, explaining to the Jury and the Allen County Superior Court, Indiana, why she did what she did to Jezaih:
All of it was either directed by God or an attempt to get closer to God, she said.
"I was willing to learn. I was wanting to learn," she said. "I was learning how to learn him."
She believed she saw the demon Marzon transform her son's physical shape. She said she believed the toddler was completely overtaken, and the more information God gave her about the demon, the more changes she saw in her baby son.
Lawson said she believed her son became possessed because of how she lived her life when she was pregnant with him.
"I had no love in my heart for life. I had no love in my heart for God," she said. "He was pretty much grown in hate."
She said she knew it was the time to exorcise the demons that affected all in their home because God told her so.
"It wasn't something I planned," she said.
Lawson prayed, "pleaded the blood of Jesus" to protect the child's body so when Marzon came out, the baby would be unharmed.
"I knew and believe I was interacting with a demon at that time," she said.
Lawson told the jury the "process" of the exorcism and giving Jezaih the three doses of the mixture took a few days, and that the child did not pass away immediately.
"It was awhile," she said. "We just held his body and were praying ... and he was passing away."
After he died, Lawson sought no help and ordered the children not to tell anyone. Instead she and Hawkins put the body on Hawkins' bed, praying over it, sleeping with it and believing God would bring Jezaih back.
"I went in and just asked God to bring him back," she said, sobbing. "He did it in the Bible. He did it with Lazarus. He did it with a child in the Bible."
Prosecutors argued that she hid the body in a tote for two years, because she knew that her actions were wrong. What if Latisha had believed that Jesus would resurrect her Jezaih, but only if she had preserved his body, as that of Lazarus and billions of dead Christians after him? Alas, she couldn't find a cave in Fort Wayne, Indiana, nor could she afford a cold, dark coffin, six feet under. A tote bag on the bed beside her was handy and inexpensive. Any thought of disposing the body in a ravine or in the woods to cover up the willful murder, of course, would have been beyond her.
In the end, the jury did not believe Latisha Lawson. They found her guilty on all counts murder, battery, and neglect of a dependent resulting in death, both Class A felonies; and neglect of a dependent and battery, both Class D felonies.
I wonder, though, how many of the twelve jurors did not believe this passage to be true [Matthew 8:28-34]:
28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, there met him two possessed with demons, coming forth out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man could pass by that way.
29 And behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
30 Now there was afar off from them a herd of many swine feeding.
31 And the demons besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, send us away into the herd of swine.
32 And he said unto them, Go. And they came out, and went into the swine: and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep into the sea, and perished in the waters.
33 And they that fed them fled, and went away into the city, and told everything, and what was befallen to them that were possessed with demons.
34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart from their borders.
If they could believe this flight of fantasy about demons exiting men and entering pigs upon hearing a monosyllable "go" from Jesus, why didn't any of the jurors believe that Latisha was telling the truth? Who is to say that Marzon couldn't be one of those demons that jumped from pig to wolf to raven and all, and finally into Jezaih?
During the trial, a clinical psychologist was asked to evaluate Latisha's mental condition at the time of Jeziah's death. He testified that she knew right from wrong. Perhaps, Latisha knew that the Bible was right about demonic possession, and that it was wrong, even blasphemy, not to believe the word of god. Could it be what the psychologist meant by right and wrong?
Could Latisha have read the Bible? If not all of it, at least the parts that describe demons, and Jesus' power to exorcise them? Or, on a cold Sunday morning, she heard her pastor warming up to Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20, or Luke 13:10-17. Perhaps, he concluded, "let us rejoice in the way that God worked through human instruments to bring salvation to those who were desperately lost and destined for eternal judgment". Did Latisha think that she could be one of those instruments to bring salvation to Jezaih?
Fictional violence in movies and video games, some say, could lead to violent behavior in the real world. May be, Latisha saw one too many of the Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, the Omen Series, the Exorcism of Emily Rose, and Twilight, allowing herself to confuse the reality of colic with the imagery of devil. Or, in a moment weakness, she had read Harry Potter to Jezaih as his bed-time story, opening a window to demonic possession. As a "leading Catholic exorcist", Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuers, the author of "Exorcism and the Church Militant", said in an interview:
"Harry Potter and these Twilight vampires glamorize the power of evil," Father Eutenener explained, "and this has lead to many, many cases of possession among young people." It may begin with a child or teenager simply "playing around" with the occult, but that seemingly harmless act is "opening a window" to possession.
Pay heed, young parents, if you happen to be die-hard Harry Potter or Twilight fans. Keep the demonic windows closed.
Whether Latisha was delusional or not when she killed Jezaih, religion will not be held responsible for his death. Not even as an accomplice to the murder. For centuries, with the connivance of kings and lawmakers, god and his coterie have been able to weasel out of any such responsibility. Latisha, and Latisha alone, will be punished for the crime, a minimum of 45 years in prison, may be more.