Marcus Dixon’s case proves our justice system can fail miserably.
Still, he’s not bitter.
You may rememberMarcus’s story. It sparked national outrage and a change in Georgia laws.
His Father Abandoned Him & His Mother Went To Prison but the Little Boy Still Excelled
Marcus Dixon (pictured above) was always special despite how unfair his life seemed to be. His spirit and athletic talent made him stand out even in little league. After his father vanished and his mother went to prison, his grandmother gave her blessings when a white family asked to adopt 9-year-old Marcus, who is black.
Kenneth and Peri Jones, a school maintenance manager and teacher, lost relationships with two immediate family members but never regretted their decision to adopt a black child in the mostly white community of Rome, Georgia. They treated him the same as their son by birth. (Pictured Below Peri & Ken Jones Appear on CBS to Discuss Marcus's Case)
Marcus was a superstar in the classroom and on the field. As a high school senior, he had a 3.96 grade-point average and a full football scholarship to Vanderbilt University. The Joneses never dreamed they would soon be spending their life savings defending their star son.
The Racially Charged Case Begins
When Marcus was 18, he had sex with a white girl who was just shy of her 16th birthday. She later claimed he raped her. He said the sex was consensual and the girl had told him her father was a racist and would never approve. Many felt the prosecution that followed was harsh and racially motivated. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine the following if the boy had been white and the girl black.
For the most part, the jury believed Marcus and rejected the long list of charges the prosecutor had thrown at the teen—rape, sexual battery, false imprisonment, and aggravated assault. However in this “she said—he said” case, the jury convicted Marcus of the odd combination of statutory rape, a misdemeanor, and the more serious charge of aggravated child molestation because it was illegal for him as an 18-year-old to have sex with a girl who was just shy of 16.
The jurors were shocked and outraged when the judge, who was bound by Georgia’s mandatory sentencing laws, sent Marcus to prison for 10 years with no possibility of parole. The jurors did not realize what they had done until it was too late, and Marcus was headed to prison for the next decade. Five of the jurors said they never would have voted for what they thought were lesser convictions if they had known the result of their decision.
Outrage Spread Across the Nation Over How Legal System Treated Marcus
Pam Oliver, FOX’s awesome and respected NFL Correspondent, updated the story of Marcus Oliver last Sunday. In her interview, I was struck when he told her he is NOT bitter. (Watch video of Pam’s story on Marcus.)
During this miraculous time of the year when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, there is so much to learn from this 24-year-old kid who lost so much because of a failure in our legal system. Holiday Flying & A Cold-Hearted, Continental Gate Agent Made Me Daydream about Breaking Laws I know people who are bitter about all events great and small in their lives. As I was flying home to Alabama to see my family yesterday, a bitter Continental gate agent went on the plane just before takeoff to yank me off the flight because she could not find my ticket for my 5-pound Chihuahua who was sitting in a carrier underneath my seat. I begged her to let me work it out with Continental in Nashville, but nope. She took me off the plane and let the plane leave with my seat empty.
I’m bitter about that.
At first, I had visions of this obviously miserable woman going hunting with Dick Cheney. That made me ashamed. Then I had visions of her going clubbing with Plaxico Burress. That made me laugh. The woman who had been incredibly rude all morning to even elderly passengers is obviously a bitter person. After spending almost six hours waiting for the next flight . . . hours I was supposed to be spending with my terminally ill younger sister . . . I became more embittered.
Still my thoughts go back to Marcus Dixon—a young man with so much grace that he can forgive and forget how unfair life has often been to him and persevere. My six hours of airport waiting was nothing compared to his 15 months in prison. Could you feel the same way if our legal system robbed you of an experience you richly earned and stole two years from your life? Our legal system is made by humans and therefore will have more cases like this.
I’ve decided the world is made up of the bitter and the not bitter. The bitter are petty about everything, worrying that someone, somewhere is getting a better deal. These people are so overwhelmed with insecurity and jealousy, they spend valuable energy trying to bring others down . . . even others who are on the same team as they.
My sister Angelia (left) isn’t bitter. After a massive heart attack at age 23, she was told she had inoperable brain aneurysms and a heart aneurysm and that she would probably live only a few more months. I am incredibly blessed to tell you nine beautiful years later she is still alive and doctors call her a little miracle, a word MD's don't use lightly. Angelia takes 12 medications a day. She cannot lift more than five pounds or exercise. She cannot dream of becoming a mother. There is no treatment for her DNA flaw that causes her collagen to be so weak and therefore her blood vessels to be so fragile. Doctors don't know how long she can defy the odds, but I know she is blessing all in her path with her happy spirit . . . a spirit of faith and thankfulness for each day she wakes up alive . . . a spirit with no bitterness.
Thank you Marcus for being wise at only 24 . . . and for reminding me the best revenge is to beat bitterness. The Dallas Cowboys will be lucky to have you on their team to remind some of the spoiled and the petty multi-millionaire star athletes what a true champion is like.