In court, killer's half brother offers forgiveness for mom's murder

In court, killer's half brother offers forgiveness for mom's murder

The grief-stricken son of a slain Champaign woman said he forgave his half brother for killing their mother.

"Even after all of this, I wanted to tell Richard that I forgive him," said Jim McLaughlin, the other son of Betty Jo Stover. "And I pray that he finds help for the darkness within him."

McLaughlin read aloud to Judge Heidi Ladd an approximately two-minute statement, eloquently summing up family members' feelings over the loss of their loved one.

"Richard chose to repay the gift of a mother's precious love by stealing her life," McLaughlin said. "The one person in this world who never gave up on him. The one person who, regardless of what he did, loved her son."

McLaughlin told the judge of his pain at comforting his three children "as they cry over the passing of their granny and best friend."

He also lamented trying to console his 81-year-old grandfather, George McLaughlin, over the loss of his daughter.

"That's my grandson, and I love him, but he committed a murder, and he should pay the price," the elder McLaughlin told The News-Gazette prior to sentencing.

In delivering the sentence, Ladd noted that Stover had plenty of prior opportunities to get help for mental problems and drug addiction, a refrain echoed by his grandfather.

"Let's get real, right is right and wrong is wrong. The kid has had help, but you got to want help," George McLaughlin said.

Even Stover acknowledged his missed opportunities.

"I've been told many times by my brother to stay away from certain people. I didn't listen," said the multiple-convicted felon.

Stover was given credit on his sentence for 181 days served in Champaign County Correctional Center.

Jim McLaughlin said his brother's record fails to show the destruction it caused to his own family and others along the way.

"I turn both this tragedy and Richard over to God as this is too big for either him or myself to carry in hopes that Richard may somehow, someday find his way back to the light," he said.

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