WITH FRIENDS LIKE THEIRS WHO NEEDS ENEMIES?
Killing Killers' CSI Sunday series spotlights three not-so-friendly friends making the top crime stories for the week ending June 30th, 2013.
Apart from being brutally murdered, Trayvon Martin, Odin Lloyd and Skylar Neese have something else in common, and perhaps in their horrific deaths is a lesson we all could learn from. Albeit a hard one...
In retrospect, say the parents of Neese, a pretty 16-year-old who disappeared in July of 2012 only to be discovered some six months later slain by her two best friends, the warning signs were glaring:
First, there was the formation of a tight but toxic bond with the very girls who would plot and perpetrate her stabbing death, and who, in advance, had already severed the once-popular A-student from her other classmates.
Second, was the emergence of a double but brief life that included deception and deviousness and began with the seemingly harmless teenage ritual of sneaking out a bedroom window.
Third, troubles were developing which involved the threesome's numerous late-night joyrides and, invariably, the police.
But all Mr. and Mrs. Neese had wanted to do in showing their daughter Skylar such leniency was to give the growing child a sense of freedom, they said.
Freedom to come and go -- to be trusted -- is an essential rite of passage into maturity, but, as this now-grieving couple discovered much too late, in excess it can sometimes turn deadly.
At age 27, however, Odin Lloyd was an adult and therefore it's safe to assume well past growing pains and angst. So his being shot to death by sports-celebrity friend Aaron Hernandez would appear, on its face, rather unexpected.
Except when it becomes clear that Lloyd already knew that the pro-footballer he was so enamored with had longstanding gang ties and a predilection for extreme acts of violence.
Indeed, investigators now suspect that Lloyd's gangland-style execution may have been orchestrated by Hernandez and his notorious cronies, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, because the victim had knowledge of this trios' role in a previous drive-by shooting.
If that's true, then Lloyd didn't need deep insight or a crystal ball to gauge whether his relationship with this criminally bent crew could leave him seriously maimed or dead.
On the other hand, Trayvon Martin, gunned down by a rabid neighborhood watchman at the tender age of 17, fared much better at the hands of his friends.
At least in life anyway.
Now, as the trial against his killer George Zimmerman progresses, some critics are complaining that Martin's star witness and childhood confident is anything but an asset to him when she's sitting on the witness stand.
Some beg to differ though, saying the supposedly outlandish impudence of 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel and her mumbling patois which spectators find so incomprehensible and annoying is simply a "cultural thing."
That culture clash underscores the crux of the issue subtly being tried, still others are attempting to explain. Because, before justice for a butchered boy can be meted out here, the world evidently needs to know first: Who was the bigger racist, the victim or his "ass-cracking" attacker?
Of course, this banal debate, generated by Ms. Jeantel's sudden *eccentricity" when placed in a white-dominated judicial setting, also overshadows the obvious -- the young lady's courage and loyalty.
But each of the three cases featured this week on Killing Killers' CSI Sunday wrap-up definitely prove that the old adage about choosing your pals wisely still holds true today.
Friendship really matters. Whether you're alive or dead.