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The Rev. Walter Everett, left, and Mike Carlucci share their story with a social justice class at Bucknell University Monday. Carlucci murdered Everett's son in 1987 and the two formed a close friendship after the reverend forgave him.

LEWISBURG — He could have been angry, or bitter or vengeful. Instead, after losing a life to violence 20 years ago, the Rev. Walter Everett responded by saving one.

It was the first step on a path toward forgiveness that led to his speaking, alongside the man who killed his eldest son, at a social justice course at Bucknell University Monday.

After Scott Everett was gunned down in a Connecticut apartment complex in July 1987, the pastor “went through the next few months with a tremendous amount of anger at what had happened.”

He prayed, and prayed, and prayed, waiting for an answer from God. Why had this happened? What should I do? he asked. The spiritual silence only fueled his growing rage and frustration.

But Everett, of Lewisburg, told the Bucknell class on Monday he quickly realized “my anger was killing me. Emotionally, spiritually and even physically.”

Then at the sentencing of his son’s murderer, Mike Carlucci, Everett heard something he didn’t expect.

Carlucci told Everett, and Everett’s wife, Nancy, he was sorry.

That’s when he felt something, Everett said. “It was as though I felt the prodding of God saying, ‘This is what I’ve asked you to wait for.’”

His life changed when he wrote a letter to Carlucci and forgave him for the crime, leading to an improbable friendship that lasts to this day.

“If he didn’t send me that letter, I can’t see the future,” said Carlucci, a career criminal and rampant drug user prior to his arrest for Scott Everett’s murder. “But that letter put one foot in front of the other for me.”

Carlucci has been free for the last 15-plus years after serving a reduced sentence — three years — for the murder. He now lives in Huntington, Conn., and visited with Everett recently. The two spent part of their time together telling their story across the Valley, including their visit to Bucknell.

Since their relationship began, both men have dedicated themselves to sharing their stories to change others’ lives. Carlucci speaks at prisons, colleges — “wherever I’m asked to go” — and shares his journey of addiction, recovery and redemption, while Everett uses his story to speak out against the death penalty and promote “restorative justice.”

As opposed to “retributive justice,” which supports punishment for the criminals and offers little to the victims, Everett said, restorative justice “begins with the people often ignored, the victims, and asks, ‘How do we bring them peace?’

“It’s a system that encourages accountability on the part of the criminal ... and that begins the healing process for him or her.”

Restorative justice, he said, addresses the question: “How do we change society so the conditions that lead to violence no longer exist?”

Everett was honored by the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on Sunday for his advocacy and his work to abolish the death penalty.

“I was overwhelmed,” he said of the honor. “I didn’t think I had done anything worthy of an award. I was doing what I was doing for my own healing.”

Carlucci also opposes the death penalty, using himself as an example of the power of restorative justice.

“If they came down and put me in an electric chair or gave me a lethal injection, look what they’d be wasting,” he said. “I’m a productive member of society.

He has Everett to thank for his new lease on life, Carlucci said.

“It was unbelievable (for the pastor to receive the award). He deserves every bit. He’s a man, they don’t make two of him.”

n E-mail comments to rscott@dailyitem.com.

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