Victim's Mom Tries To Forgive Teen Killer

ByABC News
March 12, 2001, 10:38 AM

March 12 -- It's not that the mother of a murdered 6-year-old girl feels sorry for the boy who was convicted of brutally killing the little girl. But she says she wants to try to forgive the 14-year-old.

Lionel Tate, who was 12 at the time that he killed Tiffany Eunick by tossing her around in imitation of professional wrestlers, has been sentenced to life in prison without parole after being tried as an adult and convicted of first degree murder charges.

Tate's defense attorney is getting some surprising support for his appeal to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for clemency. The chief prosecutor in the case says he supports a lighter sentence for the boy.

Life without parole is the minimum sentence for first degree murder in Florida. Had Tate been 16 at the time of the killing, he could have faced the death penalty.

Tiffany's mother says she thinks it's sad that the boy might not get another chance to make something of his life even though he murdered her daughter. She says she believes Tate's mother should have agreed to the plea bargain offered by prosecutors that would have put the boy in a juvenile detention center for three years and then given him 10 years probation.

"I was saddened because Lionel had gotten a second chance to life," Deweese Eunick said on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America. "My daughter didn't get that. He had gotten a second chance to life where he was able to get three years and would have been rehabilitated, and that saddened my heart that they did not take that so that he would have a second chance to life."

Eunick said that for her, the question of the boy's age is irrelevant.

"It's more that he's a human being, you know?" she said. "And in spite of him murdering my daughter and taking my daughter's life, the thing is back in the olden days, you did an eye for an eye, right? Jesus came, Jesus died for all our sins. When we do things wrong, we can go to him, we can ask for forgiveness, right? So who am I not to forgive him for what he did to my daughter and did to my to my life?"