Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
31 people are in trouble with the law after a three day prostitution sting in Richmond. Police told NBC12 they targeted specific areas where residents and business owners complained about the illegal activity.More >>
The mother of a murdered toddler says she forgives the man who killed him.
Andre Hampton beat and killed his 23 month old son, Elijah, in 2008.
On Tuesday, he avoided the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Lashinna Burger keeps a picture of Elijah in her living room.
It gives her comfort.
But she says it took years for her to forgive Elijah's father, Andre Hampton.
He was sentenced to life in prison for beating and torturing Elijah to death. Lashinna's friend broke the news to her.
"She said 'are you okay?', and I said 'yes, I'm happy, that's what I wanted for him'," said Lashinna.
Her reaction might surprise you, but Lashinna says she's found peace since Elijah's death.
"If I wasn't to forgive him, I would be bitter. I can't be bitter, I still have my other children to support," she said.
After the murder, Lashinna spent 14 months in jail for not reporting the bruises she saw on Elijah the night before his father beat him to death. She says at the time, she was too scared of what Hampton would do to her.
"I was scared for all of us, because if I wasn't scared I would have left," she said.
Her decision not to leave still haunts her.
"Do you ever have a moment where it still doesn't feel real?" asked WBTV reporter Sarah Batista.
"I do, I do a lot. Sometimes I even feel him in the room with me," she said.
Lashinna says she learned a valuable lesson - the hard way.
She hopes others will learn from her experience too.
"No matter how scared you are, if you see things that are not right, to prevent something happening like what happened to me, you go, you go call the police," said Lashinna.
Lashinna says she hopes Andre Hampton finds peace in his own life.
He apologized for his actions in court.
Lashinna plans to write a book about her experience.