PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — More than 25 years ago, two little girls witnessed the murder of their mother and grandmother by their estranged father. Now those girls have become accomplished woman who are fighting to keep their father in prison.
“Two women, two children in the car… slaughtered them without care,” said Kristi Lane Scott.
On the night of April 21, 1991, Kristi, who was just 13-years-old, sat in the backseat of her family’s car with her 10-year-old sister, Kelly Lane Perez. Their mother and grandmother were up front.
They were waiting to pick up the girls’ younger brother from their estranged father, William Lane. But, instead, an act of unimaginable horror and brutality transpired before their young eyes.
“I remember every detail, and it’s something that, honestly, words can’t describe the trauma,” said Kelly.
On that awful night, William Lane came down from his apartment to the street, then went back up to his apartment, coming down with semi-automatic rifle. He opened up the car door and began firing.
“Opened it up with a rifle, shot into the car. I remember looking to my left and seeing the window completely blown out,” said Kristi.
Before her, the sight of her mother and grandmother, riddled with 15 rounds from William’s rifle.
“I don’t think anyone can sort of fully comprehend what that looks like, feels like, smells like, and those images are seared into your brain,” said Kristi. “And never leave you.”
More than 25 years have passed, but rather then descend into anger and bitterness or drugs and alcohol, Kristi and Kelly have grown into remarkable women. Raising themselves without a mother and grandmother, both have become successful attorneys.
Kristi is a former federal prosecutor, who has dedicated her adult life to finding justice for others.
“When things happen, traumatic things happen, you have one of two choices,” says Kristi. “You can be a victim, or you can be stronger, and use to your voice to speak, which is what I’m trying to do today.”
Every year for the past six, the two sisters have testified in Harrisburg before the Pennsylvania Parole Board, arguing against the release of their father. But two weeks ago, they were devastated to learn that the board had voted to let him go.
In its ruling, the board cited positive institutional behavior and low risk to the community in voting to release William over the objections of the family.
“He gets to live,” said Kristi. “He gets to wake up everyday, but he robbed me and my children of having a grandmother or having her there at our college graduations. I think that’s incredibly unjust.”
In their corner is Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone, who on the terrible night of the shooting was working as an on-call paramedic and responded to the murders.
The night stays with Vittone as well, and he is now urging the parole board to reconsider.
“Take a look at the fact that these two women were in the backseat and witnessed this, and to this day, I’m sure are still reliving that moment on a daily basis,” said Vittone.
Kristi says having her father serve his maximum sentence in prison is a matter of personal justice, and keeping a vow to the women who left her when she was young.
“I feel a solemn obligation to honor my mother’s life in a way she would be proud,” Kristi said. “And I’m committed to trying to pursue justice not just for myself, but for others.”