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'I Forgave Him': Denver Mother Accepts Child's Killer As Her Son

DENVER (CBS4) -- It's called Restorative Justice. It's a risky and emotional program, now the Denver District Attorney's office and Conflict Center of Denver are beginning it. Victims and the perpetrators meet face to face for purposes of understanding and healing.

One person who went through such a program was Sharletta Evans. She did something a lot of people wouldn't dare do. She met with the killer of her 3-year-old son, Casson.

Casson Johnson

"It was to bring closure to my own unanswered questions," she told CBS4's Rick Sallinger.

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It was Dec. 21, 1995 when Casson was killed in a drive-by shooting. Twenty-one bullets of gang warfare directed at the wrong car. Raymond Johnson, who was 15 years old at the time, was arrested as the shooter.

restorative justice raymond johnson mug
Raymond Johnson (credit: Denver DA)

Sharletta then made a big decision.

"I forgave him -- and the only way I was able to live on and be present for my surviving son was to forgive him," she said.

Johnson was sentenced to life behind bars, where he agreed to meet with the mother of the boy he killed.

"His response was he clutched his chest with uncontrollable tears and said 'I messed up,'" she recalled.

Casson Johnson

In honor of Casson, she went a heart-wrenching step further.

"I left there hugging Raymond. I accepted him as my son, because he was absent of his parents," she said.

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Sallinger asked, "How could you accept the killer of your son as your son now?"

"I didn't want him to suffer anymore because he had such a hole in his heart for taking my son's life," she said.

She is in touch with him twice a week and even puts money into his prison account.

The program will only involve misdemeanor cases when it first gets going in Denver.


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