Three Stories of Extraordinary Forgiveness

Man Too 'Smart' for Failed Murder Plot?
ABCNEWS.com

In 2010 Yvonne Stern was the target of three hits. Her husband Jeffrey Stern's former mistress later pleaded guilty to arranging them. The first two times, the bullets missed Yvonne Stern. The third time, the bullet went through her stomach, and she recovered from the injury.

Jeffrey Stern has admitted to the affair but denied ex-mistress Michelle Gaiser's allegation that he was the mastermind behind the hits. On Monday, Stern will go on trial for solicitation of capital murder. Gaiser, who got a reduced sentence in exchange for her guilty plea and cooperation with the government, is scheduled to testify against him.

Watch the full story on the latest episode of "20/20."

PHOTOS: Dangerous Love Triangle: Hitmen Tried to Kill Wife Three Times

Many people refuse to forgive a spouse for cheating, much less for cheating with someone who then tried -- three times -- to have them killed, allegedly with the spouse's help. But Yvonne Stern is standing by her man.

"I forgive him his indiscretions," Yvonne Stern said in a court appearance.

Here are three other stories of extraordinary forgiveness.

PHOTO: Marion Salmon Hedges
Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan
1.
Forgiving a Harmful Prank

Which is harder to forgive: a moral lapse like cheating on your spouse or just casual, banal stupidity?

This past fall, Marion Hedges, a New York City mother of two, suffered a serious brain injury and lost the use of an eye after two teens sent a shopping cart crashing down 50 feet onto her at the East Harlem Target shopping center.

The cart hit Hedges, 47, in the head. She was briefly in a coma and spent weeks fighting for her life.

"I wish them well, I do," Hedges said recently of the boys who performed the prank; they pleaded guilty and are now serving juvenile sentences. "I feel very sorry for them. My son is 13 also, and he is a very good boy."

Hedges was at Target that day to buy Halloween candy for underprivileged children.

Hedges' father-in-law, Michael Hedges Sr., was less forgiving, saying he believed the boys should be "hung by their toenails."

PHOTO: Judith Weinstein, Gary Weinstein, their children, Alex, 12, and Samuel, 9 are shown in this undated family handout.
Weinstein Family Photo/AP Photo via The Oakland Press
2.
Two Family Men

"How's your kids?"

That's the question Gary Weinstein found himself asking during a jailhouse meeting with the man who killed Weinstein's wife and two sons, according to the Detroit Free Press.

In a way it was an understandable question. Weinstein and Tom Wellinger lived within a mile of each other in Farmington Hills, Mich. They were both fathers. Their children attended the same schools.

In May 2005, Wellinger, driving with a blood-alcohol content more than twice the legal limit, rammed into the car containing Weinstein's wife and two sons, the Free Press reported.

Members of Wellinger's family had flown to Michigan to mount an intervention about his alcoholism, the paper said. It was scheduled for the day after the accident.

Wellinger's reply to Weinstein's jailhouse question was that he hadn't seen his son in more than a year, because he was underage and therefore not allowed in the jail.

Weinstein told the Free Press that Wellinger asked if he could ever forgive him.

Weinstein answered with a question: "Can you forgive yourself?"

Weinstein has since reportedly offered to speak to Wellinger's children to help them heal while Wellinger serves his 19-30 year sentence for three counts of second-degree murder. He has also formally agreed not to block attempts for an early release, the Free Press said.

3.
A Mother's Grief and Mercy

"That has to be the most gracious victim statement I've heard in this courtroom. And I'm not so sure I'd be able to be as gracious as you are, ma'am."

Rankin County (Miss.) Circuit Judge William Chapman spoke these words last Monday at the conclusion of the trial of Jermaine Tyler, 31, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported. Tyler pleaded guilty to murdering Leslie Sheppard Doame, 37, after robbing her parents' home last September.

The victim statement Chapman referenced was by Teresa Sheppard, the victim's mother, the Clarion-Ledger said. Sheppard reportedly told the court and Tyler that she and Leslie's father forgive him and love him, "because Jesus commands that we love our enemy."

"Even when her father and I were crying to the depths of our souls, our first prayers were for the murderers," she said.

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