Stories of murder and execution to be heard Saturday

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Mother Emanuel AME tragedy is part of the reason a North Carolina advocacy group decided to hold their annual conference in the greater Charleston area.

The stories of murder and execution will be heard Saturday in North Charleston at the Hilton Garden Inn off International Boulevard.

The group, "Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation" (MVFR) focuses on giving hope and healing to families of murder victims' and the death penalty.

"It wrecked my life," said Teresa Avent, a member of the group whose brother was murdered.

Avent said her brother's death turned her life upside-down.

After several years she finally got to a place where she could face the accused killer and find a level of forgiveness.

"Forgiveness is not so much for the offender," Avent said. "It's so much for us as the victims. It releases us to move forward in a productive manner."

Back in June the word 'forgiveness' rang across the Lowcountry and the nation.

Family members of the victims killed in the Mother Emanuel AME shooting spoke of forgiveness to the accused killer.

It's part of the reason MVFR chose this location for their conference.

"Also because there's a broader suffering community and we wanted to highlight, amplify community, build voices to those who have been adversely affected by homicide," said Jeremy Collins, a board member.

"We invited people from the community and the nation to come together and share experiences and stories they have of losing loved ones to murder and execution," said Executive Director, Jack Sullivan, Jr.

The group also focuses on the death penalty and finding a better way to deal with that issue from a family victims' standpoint.

Sullivan's sister was murdered 18 years ago. Her killer was never found, but to this day he said he wouldn't ask for execution.

"We want to talk to the person and find out what he or she was going through," Sullivan said. "Why did he or she have to pull the trigger on my sister, our sister, and what is the best way for this person to be held accountable for what took place."

South Carolina leaders from the NAACP President, Black Lives Matter, and Reverend Dr. Nelson Rivers will be in attendance.

The day-long workshop will begin at 9:00 a.m. Saturday at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The group welcomes families in the community that have been affected.

On Sunday members will attend the church service at Mother Emanuel AME as a way to show the victims' families their support

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