I feel sorry for the jurors. They spent 18 months - a year and a half out of their lives - listening to the horrific details of three gangland killings, while prohibited from discussing with anyone what they were going through. And another 12 days, sequestered, totally cut off, trying to achieve a unanimous verdict.
The length of both the trial and the sequestering set new records in B.C.
In the end, the jurors found five men, members of a gang called the Greeks, guilty of killing three other men.
One victim stole some cash and a gang cellphone while delivering drugs for them. He was tortured with a blowtorch and a hammer, and finally beaten to death with a baseball bat.
Another had his own drug network and competed with the Greeks for territory. He too was beaten with a wooden bat, then stomped by his killers' boots. It took him 17 days to die of his injuries.
The third victim had a relatively easy death - he was shot. The Greeks suspected him of blabbing information about their gang to the police.
It would be easy for me to rant about drugs, crime, gangs, and what The Shadow used to call "the evil that lives in the hearts of men." (Yes, I'm old enough to remember radio dramas.)
But what interests me more is how human beings can so utterly, totally, submerge their natural feelings of compassion that they can callously beat to death someone who was probably screaming for mercy.
Yes, I do believe that even gangsters have feelings of compassion. Or they did have, once. They cuddled kittens. They fell in love. They rocked their babies in the night. They enjoyed having friendsâ€¦
And then something changed.
At some point, each of those five convicted killers made a momentous decision, probably without knowing it. The decision might have come in early childhood, in their teenage years, perhaps even as young men seeking kicks. Whenever it happened, they decided that ruthlessness would serve their purposes better than kindness, brutality better than gentleness.
And having committed themselves to solving their problems with violence, they could not turn back. Because those they had treated with violence would retaliate with violence. Their only option was to be even more violent.
I remember a line from an ancient Boys' Own Annual: "If you're going to cheat, you've got to cheat more than the other guys do."
And so the members of the Greeks gang ended up beating their victims to death with baseball bats and boots. Once they started down that path, they had no choice but to continue.
I once preached a short sermon based on Luke 9:51, which states that "Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem."
Having made the decision to go to Jerusalem, I suggested, Jesus' crucifixion became inevitable. He set in motion his confrontations with the Temple priests and the Roman authorities. He could no longer retreat to the boonies of Galilee.
A colleague with an interfaith portfolio came to me afterwards. "Do you know what you've done?" he demanded. "You've articulated a Christian version of karma!"
Karma - the Hindu belief that all events are linked together in an endless chain of cause and effect.
Karma is not the same thing as fate. Fate does not randomly make you suffer or succeed. Rather, you harvest what you sow. Hinduism requires re-incarnation to explain karma. What you did in a previous life influences this life, which then affects what will happen to you in some future existence.
I don't buy re-incarnation. But I do recognize that my actions today will determine what I'm capable of doing tomorrow. To take an obvious example, if a moment's carelessness while woodworking loses me a finger or two, I will have difficulty typing these columns for the rest of my life.
Karma has no undo button.
Karma can be good or bad. A single positive act can send ripples through a lifetime. But it's easier to track negative acts. You probably never heard of 19-year-old Gavrio Pincip. He seized an unexpected opportunity to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914. Nine million casualties followed in the First World War.
The World Trade Center may have been Osama bin Laden's way of giving the finger to American imperialism. However it happened, it set off two wars that cost 6,000 American lives, turned American indifference to Islam into hatred, and triggered continuing instability in the Middle East.
At some point, each of those members of the Greeks gang took a first step along a path of violence and lawlessness from which they could not retreat.
I don't offer that as an excuse their actions. But if they'd had a helping hand at the right time, three brutal deaths might not have happened. And a lot of lives would have been a lot less miserable.
Jim Taylor is an Okanagan Centre author and freelance journalist. He can be reached at