RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Time now for StoryCorps, where everyday Americans are recording their stories. Today we hear from Hector Black, and his is a story that will be hard for many to listen to. Seven years ago, Hector's daughter was murdered after she surprised an intruder in her Atlanta home. Hector Black talks about what he went through after his daughter's death and in the months to come.
HECTOR BLACK: We learned about what had happened in bits and pieces. She came home and he was hiding in the closet hoping to jump out the back window and get away. But she opened the closet door and she fell backwards, and he tied her hands behind her back. And they had a conversation, in the course of which she told him that he needed to get help with his drug habit. He told her to put burglar bars on the back window and always leave a light on. He asked her for sex and she said you'll have to kill me first. And so he did.
We were all just devastated. Nothing like this had ever happened. I mean we'd known death, but not like this. I'd never been in favor of the death penalty, but I wanted that man to hurt the way he had hurt her. I wanted him to hurt the way I was hurting. But after a while I wanted to know who it was, what kind of a monster would do a thing like this. And I learned a little bit about Ivan Simpson - that's his name.
I found out that he was born in a mental hospital and that when he was about 11 years old, his mother took him and his brother and sister to a swimming pool and said God was ordering her to destroy them. He escaped and his brother escaped from her, but he watched while his mother drowned his little sister.
Suzy and I both went to the District Attorney's office and he was quite upset when we told him that we did not want this man killed. He pled guilty to every charge. And then it came turn for anybody who had been affected by the crime to say how this crime had affected them. So I read my statement, and in the statement I said - I don't hate you, Ivan Simpson, but I hate with all my soul what you did to my daughter. And I looked in his eyes. The tears were streaming down his cheeks and before he was led away, he asked to speak and was led to the microphone and he twice said I'm so sorry for the pain that I've caused.
And when I got back to my room that night, I couldn't sleep, 'cause I really felt as though a tremendous weight had been lifted from me, and that I had forgiven him.
(Soundbite of music)
MONTAGNE: Hector Black in Nashville. His daughter, Patricia Ann Nuckles, was 43 when she was killed. This story will be archived at the Library of Congress along with all the others from StoryCorps, and you can subscribe to the project's podcast at npr.org.