- Associated Press - Saturday, June 13, 2015

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - Decades after a tragic slaying, a Murfreesboro pastor and the man who killed his father are planning on telling their story as friends.

New Vision Baptist Church pastor Phillip Robinson has befriended Ron Hammer, who killed Robinson’s father Wayne Robinson in 1986, The Tennessean reports (https://tnne.ws/1BbV0ht). The two will speak at the pastor’s church on Sunday morning during three services. Hammer had planned to attend in person, but will appear to the congregation online via Skype.

“This is a story about life and living it fully,” Robinson said. “I do that by forgiving. Ron benefits, but I benefit too.”

Hammer spent nearly three decades in prison for shooting and robbing the elder Robinson with an accomplice outside of the family’s Murfreesboro grocery store.

Hammer was the gunman, but adamantly denied that for years. He was given a life sentence for murder and 35 additional years for armed robbery.

Hammer wrote Robinson a letter about eight years ago, admitting to pulling the trigger and asking for forgiveness.

The two exchanged letters for years, and eventually began to consider themselves as friends. Robinson testified for Hammer at a parole hearing last year.

Two months after Hammer’s March release, Robinson met his friend. They embraced and later prayed together.

“I reached out two hands,” Robinson said. “And it was powerful to think last time he had physical contact with my family, it was death. And now it was life. It was pretty overwhelming.”

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Information from: The Tennessean, https://www.tennessean.com


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