In our Nov. 3, 2019, issue, we published a piece titled “The Apology Letter,” by incarcerated journalist John J. Lennon. He wrote about murdering a man named Alex Lawson and his subsequent attempt to apologize to Lawson’s family. We contacted Taisha Lawson, Alex’s sister, to comment for the story, but she could not be reached. She has since written a letter to the editor.

My name is Taisha Lawson, and I would be remiss to not appeal to the conscience of the editors of The Washington Post Magazine. In November 2019, you ran an article written by convicted murderer-turned-freelance-writer John J. Lennon. John killed my brother Alexander Lawson: He drove around with Alex’s body in his trunk, received counsel from his mother and ultimately got the assistance of one of his cronies to help obscure the remains of my brother, which were contained in a heavy-duty garbage bag. He did all of this with the nefarious intention of my brother’s body being whisked out to sea by the undercurrent of the Atlantic Ocean.

In Lennon’s story for The Washington Post Magazine (“The Apology Letter,” Nov. 3, 2019), he describes writing an apology to me and my family. It was overdue by almost two decades. In the article, Lennon offers the following as a sort of peripheral defense for his actions: “I killed a criminal, not an innocent.” Lennon, ever the astute Machiavellian, employs a succinct argument that serves to vilify my brother and effectively diminish the value of the life he took. This statement is a quintessential example of why I believe John has victimized my brother in perpetuity.

I am not a writer of John Lennon’s notoriety, and I am not possessed of his voracity for sensationalism. However, I think it prudent to paint the picture of a man who wishes to cheat the system, evade justice and pull the wool over the eyes of his audience. He tried to get away with murder. In fact, he has never stopped trying to get away with it. Lennon went to trial, got a hung jury and lost his trial. He maintained his innocence for as long as the law would allow. Ultimately a jury of his peers found him guilty. He even considered appealing. I do not wish to be a moral judge. I do not wish to cast the proverbial first stone. I only wish to pose the question: Is John Lennon capable of remorse?

What good does it do any of us to offer an apology, accept an apology, extend an olive branch, make amends, and see John released, if the very premise of why I should forgive Lennon is built on a foundation fortified with lies and insincerity? I am an individual of a certain spiritual accord, as was my brother. Out of respect for my spirituality, I ask that Lennon not use the name “Alex Lawson” in his writing anymore. I am of the belief that my brother’s soul will rest easy if John can find it within himself to not bastardize my brother’s posthumous return to his heavenly essence with story after story about the ails of gangster life, and about keeping it real. John’s obliging of this request is so much better than an apology.