Friday, May 8, 2009
Paula Loyd, Don Ayala and Abdul Salam
On November 4, 2008 a woman who I played tennis with in the 7th grade was innocently doing her job as anthropologist in Afghanistan for HTS (Human Terrain System). She was interviewing people in the market when the man she was speaking to about the prices of gas doused her with gasoline and set her on fire. Upon hearing news that Loyd was dead, a long time friend, Don Ayala, a military contractor with the department of defense went to the area where the man, Abdul Salam, was being held after being arrested by other military officials. Don Ayala put a service revolver to Salam’s head and pulled the trigger. Ayala was then taken into custody and found out his long time friend was not dead, but he had just killed the man he thought had killed her.
Unfortunately, on January 7, 2009 after a long fought, 2 month battle, Paula lost her life.
Although it’s been years since I’ve known her, the things people say about her are the same things I remember about the 13 year old girl on my tennis team. She always had a smile on her face, was as smart as anyone could imagine and always there to help ANYONE. She even looks the same. There’s NO WAY I would believe she’s my same age if I saw her today, and there’s NO WAY to not know it was her. She hasn’t changed a bit.
Don Ayala was charged with murder once back in the US. He was then released on bail, and has sense pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Tomorrow, May 8 is supposed to be his sentencing date. His family and friends, along with Paula’s family and friends have made pleas to the court for leniency.
For a VERY fact based article about this case, you can go here.
In closing, I want to say this: I know not everyone may agree about what should happen to Don Ayala, but I think we can all agree that the judge sentence him to what is fair and reasonable for what has happened. In the end, no matter what his sentence, even if he is given probation, no one wins. Two lives are lost, and he will have to live with what he did for the rest of his life.
*** There was A LOT more I wanted to write about Paula and what an amazing woman she was, but it’s such an emotional issue, and I didn’t realize how hard that might be when I started. Hopefully, I can get to it… one day!!!