After Forgiving Son's Young Killer, Father Advocated For His Parole Two Decades Later
UPDATE: 3:26p.m., Nov. 28, 2018
Parole has been recommended for a man who shot and killed a San Diego college student in 1995.
Tony Hicks was 14 years old when he shot Tariq Khamisa. Hicks was the first youth in California to be tried as an adult for murder.
The Khamisa family was among those who supported his release at today's hearing in San Luis Obispo.
Wednesday's decision by the state parole board does not mean Hicks will be released right away. Thereis a 120-day internal review and then it goes to the governor's office for approval.
Read original story below:
The news of 20-year-old Tariq Khamisa’s murder knocked his father, Azim, to the ground.
Azim Khamisa said he lost feeling in his legs and collapsed on his kitchen floor.
"I don’t have the words to describe to you how excruciatingly painful that experience was for me. It was like a nuclear bomb that had gone off in my heart,” Khamisa said at his La Jolla home.
His son, a budding photographer and writer who hoped to be a National Geographic journalist, died Jan. 21, 1995. The college student was shot by 14-year-old Tony Hicks at the urging of an elder gang member, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Since Tariq's death, Azim Khamisa has forgiven Hicks and promoted nonviolence to hundreds of thousands of kids alongside the teen's grandfather through the Tariq Khamisa Foundation. Khamisa is now hoping for Hicks' release as he faces a Wednesday parole hearing more than 20 years after he pled guilty to Tariq's murder.
Azim Khamisa said his son's death brought unbearable pain, but amid that he experienced an enlightening moment.
"When the explosion subsided, I believe that God sent me back into my body with the wisdom that there are victims at both ends of the gun," Khamisa said.
He meets regularly with the now 38-year-old Hicks, who writes for the foundation's website. Hicks recently addressed questions from students, including inquiries about what he would say if he could speak to Tariq.
"I hope to be of service to others in a positive way now. I will spend my life making amends for taking your life and those I have hurt along this journey, I will do it all in your name Tariq," Hicks responded in part.
Khamisa hopes to welcome Hicks as a foundation spokesman to deter kids from choosing the path of violence, which Khamisa considers the real enemy.
"We like to think we are a civil society; we’re the richest and the most powerful nation in the world — how did we create a society where children kill children?” Khamisa said.
Hicks' parole has not been opposed by San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan as is common with offenders who continue violent behavior in prison. Hicks stabbed a prison guard when he was 21, the U-T reported.
Stephan said the case requires additional consideration due to the young age of Hicks at the time of the murder and because of the Khamisa family’s support. Tariq's sister, Tasreen, executive director of the foundation, has also developed a close relationship with Hicks.
"To have people like the Khamisa family who have used their pain to better the community and to prevent gang violence in future generations is just an extraordinary act of love and compassion, so that makes the case unusual," Stephan said.
The district attorney will attend the parole hearing in San Luis Obispo at the Khamisa family’s request and make her recommendation to the parole board after listening to Hicks.
Azim said he is optimistic about Hicks’ chances.