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Crazy in Michigan: Honey, you hired a hit man, but I still love you

August 01, 2013|By Paul Whitefield

Forgiveness. It’s a characteristic in somewhat short supply these days.

Just ask Anthony Weiner. Or San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. Or the Fullerton firefighter charged in the Huntington Beach mayhem. Or any DWP worker who has ever called in sick. (For confirmation, just check The Times’ comment boards. If you have a strong stomach.)

But not in Michigan. There, one Jacob Merfeld, 27, stood up in court Tuesday and very publicly forgave his 21-year-old wife, Julia.

Her crime? Just that she tried to hire a hit man to have him killed.

Not that she was cold-blooded about it or anything, but, she asked (on the secret recording made of her encounter with the hit man, who was really a cop, of course) -- could the husband be killed on a Thursday, “because that’s the day that I work”?

And, giggling, she also asked for the deed to be done outside her home -- “ 'cause it would be messy in the house.”

Wow, practical, organized and heartless. What else could you want in a wife?

Now, (if I remember my brief foray into Sunday school correctly) Jesus said: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

On the other hand, who would’ve blamed Jacob for picking up and hurling a few proverbial boulders at his black-hearted bride, especially after hearing this:

“It was easier than divorcing him,” she told the cop assuredly in explaining her rationale. “I didn’t have to worry about the judgment of my family, I didn’t have to worry about breaking his heart, all that stuff like this.”

Sure: “Better Dead Than Broken-Hearted.” It has a nice ring to it. Like: “Better a Bullet to the Head Than Paying a Divorce Lawyer Through the Nose.” (Hey, this is fun; feel free to come up with your own jingles.)

But Jacob is cut from different cloth than most of us. As The Times’ Benjamin Mueller reported:

“I know that this is a crime that is on the top of the list of the most, I guess, evil, non-Godly things you could probably do,” Merfeld testified. But, he said, “I wholeheartedly forgive my wife for all she has done in this act of hatred.”

The Vatican wants to make Pope John Paul II a saint. I say, what about this guy?

In court, naturally, Julia changed her tune:

Merfeld quoted the Bible during her sentencing hearing, and promised that her repentance was sincere. “My tears are not for your pity, my honor. My tears are for remorse.”

Judge William Marietti then said uh huh, fine, and -- whew -- sentenced her to at least five years and eight months in prison. Which isn’t nothing, but it is a year less than the most severe minimum sentence Michigan allows. Maybe this forgiveness thing is catching.

Hopefully, prison will give Julia time to reflect, or at least cool off.

As for Jacob, I don’t have any Bible verses to share, but there are a couple of quotes he might ponder while the wife is out of his house and staying at the Big House:

“To err is human, to forgive, divine.” --  Alexander Pope

“One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” -- Rita Mae Brown


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