The Making of an Advocate

I just came from a press conference hosted by friends of Deborah Key where I watched Deborah’s sister, Susan speak with eloquence and confidence about the upcoming hearing on Monday to consider evidence in the pre-trial of Andrew Dalzell.

I had met Susan once before. This was in November, again at a press conference to discuss the case, and at that time she did not seem well. In part, this can be attributed to her lack of experience in dealing with the public about such a personal issue, but it also seemed that the effort of the entire process completely drained her. I seriously questioned her ability to sit through a murder trial, if the judge ever ruled there was sufficient evidence to warrant such a process.

Witness the difference in her demeanor today. Susan was poised without being aloof; informed, but justifiably emotional. She handled questions from television reporters and newspapers like a pro, but not in an overly polished manner. In short, for anyone who had the pleasure of watching her in that tiny Chinese restaurant in Carrboro, we were watching the birth of a victim’s activism.

Did I mention that Susan is eight months pregnant with her second child? Or that she has to travel all the way from Virginia where she currently resides to make her stand? Yes, the press threw her the usually curve balls trying to stir up controversy:

– Do you think the police screwed up?

– Why were the police confused?

– Do you have regrets about their tactics?

Susan handled all of this with determined certainty, while not surrendering her humanity.

– There was no confusion. The police acted within their rights. The family supports their efforts.

End of story. And to anyone who tried to turn the tables on the situation by suggesting that Andrew Dalzell was the victim in this affair, Susan had the final and definitive answer:

“This process is all about the murder of my sister, Deborah Key. Deborah is the focus here”

The focus is certain.


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