NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – When a child is brutally murdered, closure can be hard to find. Thursday, Tyler Holder pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting and suffocating six-year-old Alanna Gallagher—a crime that rocked Saginaw last summer.
Before Holder left to begin a life sentence in prison, he listened to statements from Alanna’s parents, as well as the Arlington police officer he shot on the day of his arrest.
Officer Charles Lodatto was a part of a joint FBI task force investigating Alanna’s violent murder. When Lodatto and several other detectives went to arrest Holder, the 17-year-old fired a shot, hitting Lodatto in his femoral artery.
Were it not for the quick response of his fellow officers, Lodatto likely could have bled to death.
Back on the force since last October, Lodatto says he is physically healed. He credits a strong Christian faith, and his family and friends with seeing him through.
But in court on Thursday, when it was his turn to address Holder, Lodatto had a message. “I wanted to share with Tyler about forgiveness. My wife and I, and family and friends have all forgiven him for the pain he caused our family,” he told the court.
Lodatto says the sentence of life in prison plus 40 years for Holder (who must serve 50 years before becoming eligible parole) is fair in his mind.
The North Texas peace officer credits prosecutors with bringing the teenager to justice. “I spoke with Ms. Gallagher after the trial today and she expressed her gratitude. The range of emotions they’re going through right now as well has got to be unbelievable.”
But the 22-year veteran of the Arlington police force says the awards and accolades he’s received in the last 14 months are not nearly as important as the job he does every day.
“We’re just trying to get a job done for Alanna. Because most people have children and I have a young daughter, and I would want the same for her.”
Lodatto said he looked directly in Holder’s eyes as he gave his victim impact statement.
“If Tyler was willing to accept responsibility and ask for that grace and mercy, no matter what he did and how horrible it was, God would forgive him, and still loves him. No matter what.”
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