Here's the full text of Qadree Ollison's letter that was read during the sentencing hearing for Denzel Lewis, who pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Ollison's brother, LeRowne "Rome" Harris:
My name is Qadree Ollison, and Lerowne Harris is my brother. Sorry I couldn't be there today. I want to give everyone here today my opinion of life, especially you, Denzel. This letter is directly to you.
I'm sure my family will talk about how great my brother's life was, and everything that they say is nothing but the truth. But I want to write this letter to you personally. So hear me out.
Every single life is precious, no matter what they've done. I truly believe that. I truly believe that God hand-crafted and molded each one of us and gave us life. We are all his children. We are all sons, and we are all daughters. We all learn how to love someone or something. God puts that into us when we are born. He installs love into our lives and teaches us to spread love all over the world.
On Oct. 14, 2014, when I heard what happened, I was devastated like most would be when they hear that their brother's life was taken. During that time, though, I didn't feel an ounce of hate for whoever had did it. I questioned myself for a long time, staying up all night and wondering why I didn't hate you. I wondered why I felt just as bad for your family as I did my own.
I was in unbelievable shock when I found out who it was and didn't believe it. We went to Gaskill together, had class together, and I would go as far to say that we were friends while at school.
The entire time my family was grieving over the loss of my brother, I was worried about both parties: wondering how your mother felt, or your father, or even your friends. I thought for a long time that this made me a bad person. I thought I should hate the person that killed my brother, and I couldn't bring myself to do it. That reason is because I have this deep belief that every life is precious no matter what they do. Even if they murder someone, that life is still precious. That life was still hand-crafted and molded by God in some way, shape, or form.
The greatest thing that God gave us is the gift of life. The second-greatest thing He gives us is the gift of choice. Each and every one of us gets to choose what we want to do in life. We chose what we think is right and what we think is wrong. We have that right.
For some reason, you thought it was right to go and gun-down my brother that morning of Oct. 14. You had that choice. My brother, at gunpoint, didn't have a choice to live. It wasn't up to him. He lost the two greatest things God gives us as people: He lost his ability to choose, and he lost his life. Now here I am, and I have this choice to hate you or not. I choose not to. I don't hate you, Denzel. I hate what you did, most certainly. But I still think your life is just as precious as the next person's. No life means more than another's. None of us are perfect. Nobody in here is perfect.
With all that being said, I still believe that your life is precious and you can spread love around like God wants us to. I choose not to hate you. I can't hate one of God's children. I truly hope and pray that you get better from this. I hope that this time is what you need and what makes you love and not hate.
My beloved brother may not be here, physically, but he lives on through me and my family. He breathes through us and is with us every day. Thank you to everyone that showed up today and everyone that listened. I want to give a special thank you to my mother, Vicki Harris. I want you to know that I love you with every single inch of me. I also want to give a special thank you to my father, Wayne Ollison Sr. You raised a great man, and don't you ever question that. I love both of you with everything I have. Neither of you better question for one second that you didn't do something right. You both did amazing jobs and, as far as I'm concerned, you two are the greatest parents ever.
To my brothers and sister, give my Mom and Dad a hug for me since I couldn't be there.
To you, Rome, we miss you, and we love you. It hurt so bad to say goodbye, but it's going to be so much better to say hello again one day.