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Forgiveness The Theme In Union After Susan Smith Trial

July 30, 1995

UNION, S.C. (AP) _ Susan Smith’s case ripped into the heart of this little mill town. Now that she is in prison for at least 30 years, the community is on the mend.

``He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her,″ the Rev. Tom Currie told the congregation at First Presbyterian Church on Sunday, echoing the closing statement of the defense.

``Even though the bleeding has stopped, there are still plenty of wounds to be healed and many will not be healed for a long time,″ said Currie, who testified for Ms. Smith. ``But only God has the authority to be judgmental.″

Many in this community of 10,000 judged Ms. Smith, some shouting ``Baby killer!″ after first praying with her for the safe return of her boys.

For nine days last fall she wove a tale about a carjacker who abducted her children on a dark road, then confessed that she had strapped them into her car and rolled it into a lake. She was sentenced to life in prison on Friday and will be eligible for parole in 30 years. Prosecutors wanted her executed.

``I know she done wrong, but that wouldn’t have been helped by putting her to death,″ said J.B. Smith of Union, who was visiting the lake where 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alex died. ``I personally feel sorry for her.″

``It’s a sad thing,″ agreed Alma Stumbo of Allen, Kan., her video camera purring as she stepped carefully around the stuffed Barneys and plastic X-Men left at John D. Long Lake to memorialize the boys.

``It felt so sorrowful when I saw it on television and it feels even worse here. I just hope those two boys are resting in heaven now,″ he said.

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