I was at the prom the year Berlyn Cosman was shot and killed (“Man convicted of killing CV student on prom night granted parole,” Oct. 22). I was a recent Crescenta Valley High School graduate on a date with a then-current student (though not at the party).
I had followed Berlyn's basketball career in the Glendale News-Press. I was coincidentally walking by Paul Crowder's house the day after the shooting, at the exact same time he was arrested after fleeing to his home.
I went to Berlyn's funeral later that week in Montrose. I later became friends with others who were at the party (they were frequent customers of the late, great Enterprise Arcade on Foothill Boulevard). Crowder's brother played basketball at Crescenta Valley High the next couple years and had to live with what his brother did.
I later followed News-Press accounts of the trial and bought Mark Cosman's book. Obviously, I was strongly affected by what happened that night.
What occurred in that Orange County hotel room was my first real exposure to the fact that life is fleeting, that horrible things can happen to people you know. I've seen a lot of terrible things in the 20 years since, but Berlyn's death still affects me to this day.
But I also have to say that Cosman's apparent forgiveness of Crowder is one of the most gracious things I have ever seen. My wife and I recently welcomed our first daughter, and I don't know if I could be so forgiving after such a horrible loss.
He's a better man than I am.
John C. Baker