Shakara Dickens on trial

Both sides’ arguments are finished in the murder trial of Shakara Dickens and the jury will start deliberations today. Shakara is accused of killing her nine-month-old daughter, Lauryn, in Memphis, Tennessee in September 2010. The case is a lot like Caylee Anthony: Shakara claims she gave Lauryn to a stranger to take care of, and never saw either of them again.

“She came in and told me that she had spoken with her child’s father because she was having trouble taking care of her child and she told me that when she spoke to her child’s father he told her he was going to get someone to come over and take the baby,” said MPD Officer Donna Boykins.

While filing the police report Dickens was extensively questioned about the identity of the woman who allegedly came to pick up her baby and take her away. Dickens provided few answers except the woman was white and in her 40’s. She also failed to provide police the person’s name, address or telephone number. Officer Boykins testified she did speak by phone with the baby’s incarcerated father who denied he’d relayed instructions to Dickens about what to do.

Shakara was nineteen when Lauryn disappeared. It was her parents who forced her to report Lauryn missing on September 15, five days after she says she last saw her. But actually, no one besides Shakara had seen Lauryn since September 6. In the days following Lauryn’s disappearance, Shakara partied and improved on her tattoo — didn’t Casey Anthony do those things?

Lauryn’s disappearance and the resulting charges against Shakara and the trial haven’t gotten the kind of humongous press attention that Caylee and Casey Anthony did. No prizes for guessing why. I just hope the trial’s outcome is different than in the Anthony case.

I don’t understand why people kill people, and especially why a mother — or anyone — would kill a baby. I don’t understand cruelty of any kind. I have no idea why a person would take pleasure in another person’s pain, why they would actually go out and deliberately hurt other people and enjoy doing it.

Me, I’m incredibly easy to bully and push around. Whenever someone is cruel to me, I never know how to react, how to respond. Usually I just stand there. I can’t hurt people even when I ought to. I can’t hit back (either physically or verbally) even in self-defense. I’ve never been able to figure out whether this is a virtue or a flaw in my character. After all, even Gandhi, the great priest of non-violence, said there was a difference between pacifism and mere cowardice.

Of course I’ve been personally exposed to cruelty in my life, perhaps a bit more than the WASP American girl. My brother severely abused me for the first quarter-century of my existence and our parents let him do it — and at this point, I’m a lot angrier at them than at him. I was bullied at school so bad that I had to more or less drop out of the eighth grade. And then there was Rollo. I’ve studied cruel behavior and cruel people at length, reading true crime and psychology and history books, and perusing newspaper articles to research my Charley Project casefiles. But I still just don’t get it. Cruelty is not logical. It doesn’t make evolutionary sense — why do we humans, almost alone of all the species in the world, have such a capacity for sadism?