The 35-year-old son of convicted killer Arleigh Hector James who was released from prison earlier this week, wants Barbadians to forgive his father.
Having witnessed James savagely murder his mother and sister in a cutlass attack in 1994, Ashley King, said he hated his dad for several years.
However, breaking his silence today on his father’s release on Monday, King told Barbados TODAY he has since forgiven his dad and he would like Barbadians to do the same.
“Let him do his part. Let him be him and if he can’t face it out there then it is his choice . . . he asked for forgiveness, he said he is sorry, next body to judge him is the Father,” the father of four said in an interview at his Christ Church home.
“I just want to put this behind me.”
In a fit of uncontrolled rage, James beheaded his 35-year-old wife Debra James and slashed his 14-year-old stepdaughter Sabrina Arlington to death back on May 1, 1994. However, King managed to escape unharmed after he hid beneath a bed during the vicious attack.
King, who was 13-years-old at the time, said his recollection of the attack is as vivid and chilling today as it was two decades ago.
He recalled his mother returning home from church to a hostile James who accused her of having an affair with the pastor.
Clearly not being the first time she was facing abuse, his mother felt enough was enough and decided to leave.
The young King was asked to choose between his parents and he chose to go with his mum.
He remembered leaving to put his school uniform in the vehicle but his mother stopped him in his tracks with a chilling message.
“It isn’t your time yet,” he recalled her saying.
Almost immediately after, King would witness the share butchery that followed, and heard his mother’s cries as she asked her husband, “Are you going to kill me?”
James then turned his rage towards King and Sabrina as they ran to a neighbour’s home seeking refuge.
Sabrina distracted the out of control James as King found a hiding place, sacrificing her life for her younger brother.
King told Barbados TODAY the experience had sent him into a downward spiral, and he became bitter and angry, so he resorted to a life of partying, smoking, drinking and gambling.
His life changed for the better, he said, following the birth of his first child and his return to church.
Over time he was able to forgive his father before visiting James in prison.
He said his father’s release came as a surprise, and he felt James, who was sentenced to hang in 1996 before the sentence was commuted to life, ought to have spent more time behind bars.
“He should have at least do 25 years, and I would feel comfortable,” King said.
James’ unceremonious return to society has generated much public consternation, and when Barbados TODAY visited Newbury,
St George, where the convicted killer previously lived, residents were clearly incensed by the decision of this island’s prison authorities to release the infamous prisoner. None was angrier than Kenneth George who said he would like nothing more than to see James, who is a Vincentian by birth, put on a plane and sent back to his neighbouring homeland. It was at George’s house that James murdered his wife and stepdaughter.
When asked about the growing calls for his dad’s deportation, King was opposed to it, telling Barbados TODAY James’ life would be a risk if he were sent back to St Vincent.
“All my family is in St Vincent and if he is deported he could be killed,” he stressed.
King told Barbados TODAY he had not had a “real” conversation with his father since his release, but he would do so in his time.
In the meantime, the memories remain and become more vivid on his sister’s birthday on New Year’s Day, his mother’s birthday on May 10, and on the anniversary of the grisly murders and his own near death experience.
“I am living with my memories,” he explained.