In Defense of Christina Korbe: Editorial Writing
When writing an editorial, a journalist chooses a stand-point on a particular issue and argues for their point with respect and consideration for the opposing viewpoint.
In the case of Christina Korbe, I have found very little news coverage or editorial writing that favored her. Almost every pieve of news I have read about Korbe puts her in the negative spotlight. It is the duty, as journalists, to write from every angle, every side, of the story. In Korbe's case, I have only read one angle--repetatively. And it's bad.
In order to redeem all the newswriters out there, I present the other side of the story. Christina Korbe's side of the story. You may agree. You may disagree. But, as a citizen of the United States, Korbe deserves at least one editorial in her favor. It's her right. It's a journalist's duty.
Here is a case where I would have written an editorial coming to the defense of Christina Korbe. I will present clips from newspaper articles as well as my own commentary/summary:
Following the fatal shooting of FBI Special Agent Sam Hicks (Nov. 19, 2008), many were ready to throw Christina Korbe into prison for life, or better yet, end her life with a lethal injection. She was the woman who pulled the trigger, ending Hicks's life.
In the year since Hicks's death, Korbe was tried for his murder. She did not receive the death penalty. Her case is still pending.
The incident occured when Sam Hicks entered the Korbe residence in the early morning (while it was still dark) to serve a warrant to Robert Korbe on drug charges.
Hicks "led a team of agents in breaking down the front door and charging into the home" when he "was shot by the drug suspect's wife, who told police she thought he was an intruder, authorities said" (Woman charged, jailed).
According to the criminal complaint:
Korbe and his wife were in bed when officers surrounded the house on Woods Run Road, knocked on the door at 6:03 a.m. and announced themselves as police officers with a warrant for Robert Korbe's arrest.
The bearded Hicks watched through a door window as Robert Korbe ran through the house. Hicks ordered other officers to break down the door.
The officers, repeatedly announcing themselves as police, rammed the door a number of times before it broke. Hicks was the first one inside.
Other officers saw him make a quick left turn as he entered and then heard a single gunshot. Hicks shouted, "I'm hit!" and fell to the ground.
He was dragged outside by other officers, who performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived.
Christina Korbe called 911 at 6:05 a.m. and told emergency dispatchers that she believed her home was being burglarized and that she shot an intruder with a .38-caliber handgun. She was still on the phone when officers ran upstairs and took her into custody.
She told police that after her husband ran downstairs, she grabbed a gun from the bedroom closet, stood at the top of the staircase, reached around the corner and fired a single shot down the stairs. She said she did not know that those who broke down the door were police officers.
Robert Korbe said when the front door window was broken, he knew it was the police, so he ran into the basement to retrieve cocaine from a file cabinet and flush it down the washtub. He ran out the back door, where he was arrested."
In all the reports surrounding this case, no one took the side of Christina Korbe. For the sake of seeing this issue from every angle I will try to argue that she was unjustly punished. If I were writing an editorial piece on this case from her stand-point, I would write something like this:
Imagine it's a cold November night, perfect for sleeping. You're curled up in your bed, safe and sound with your children sleeping softly in the next room. At 6:30 in the morning, before the sun has even peaked it's rays above the horizon, your front door is smashed in and you are wrenched from your sleep. You look for your husband in the bed next to you so he can go find out what's happening. He isn't there. Your heart is pounding. Someone is breaking into your home and you can't find your husband.
You know there is a shot gun kept in your room. It was put there in case something like this would happen, but you never truly thought it would. You grab the gun and creep to the head of the stairs.
As you peer down, you see a figure in the darkness climbing the stairs. The door to your children's bedroom is at the head of the stairs and you panic. My babies! You have to stop this intruder. You have no other choice. Your chidlren are in danger. You fire the gun.
Now you may say, "Big deal. Jeanine is exagerating here to make a point. What a bad editorial writer she is, slanting views and all." But isn't that what most editorial pieces do? Don't they usually slant the view to either favor or degrade the subject?
I will also reply with this:
But she said her sister "Chrissie," the youngest of six children, was concerned about safety in her home because someone broke in several months ago while the family vacationed in Florida. Township police could not be reached to verify that a break-in occurred.
"They stole a motorcycle. And (the Korbes) thought people had been stealing firewood from the backyard for a while," Wakmunski said.
You don't think I have some case here in defense of Christina Korbe? She was concerned about her family from the start because there home had been burglarized before. She kept a gun in her home (for which she received child endangerment charges)* to protect her family in case the intruders came again. When Hicks knocked down the door early in the morning, what was she supposed to think?
What would YOU have done?
Christina Korbe was protecting her children from what she thought was an intruder. She did not kill Hicks in cold blood. She does not deserve life in prison.
* I have received alot of hate mail telling me that the break-ins at the Korbe home was staged by Robert Korbe so he could falsely claim the theft on his insurance (insurance fruad). I never heard anything about that in this case. If you have a link to a news article where I can read it for myself, I will entertain the notion and comment here.
Here is an article I found supporting Korbe. It's by Jerome L. Sherman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The Fatal Shot: Was Christina Korbe Protecting Her Two Children?
Most recent news about the case: Federal "Taint Team" Oversees Admisibility of Evidence in Korbe Case (March 30, 2010)
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Copyright 2009. Jeanine M O'Neal