This gripping and powerful excerpt from Seventy Times Seven: A True Story of Murder and Mercy, by Alex Mar, questions the death sentence handed to Paula Cooper after she murdered 77-year-old Ruth Pelke. Mar looks at Pelke’s childhood of abuse and where forgiveness can be found.

Ruth Pelke was pinned like a specimen to her dining-room floor. She would soon be dead. The young girls were circling, stalking, moving through the house, overturning photos of Mrs Pelke’s grandkids and touching and tossing aside books and ornaments, family things. They took the key to her Plymouth, and a total of $10. These were children, like the hundreds of others who had passed through her house. That was why she had let them in.