AIKEN - Robert Franklin Atkins wants forgiveness and death.
The man who police say killed 17-year-old Jessica Carpenter wrote in a letter to The Augusta Chronicle that, although he has trouble remembering the events of "that most sad day," he wants her family to know he is sorry.
"I'd like to say I am very, very sorry. I'd like to say that I wish there was some way that I could undo the terrible thing that was done on that most sad day. I would like to ask for their forgiveness," he wrote in a four-page letter in response to questions from The Chronicle. He sent the letter from the state prison in Reidsville, Ga., where he is being held.
At a news conference three weeks ago, Aiken police named Mr. Atkins, 31, as the sole suspect in the Aug. 4, 2000, rape and slaying. Investigators announced that DNA from Jessica's Crosland Park home, where her body was discovered, matched that of Mr. Atkins, who was being held in a south Georgia prison on another charge.
After police investigators linked Mr. Atkins to Jessica's slaying in late August of this year, Georgia prison officials moved him from Ware State Prison in Waycross to the higher security prison in Reidsville. A Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman said Mr. Atkins confessed to the slaying after talking with Aiken investigators late last month.
A Carpenter family member said Tuesday that the family did not want to comment on Mr. Atkins' letter.
Second Circuit Solicitor Barbara R. Morgan, however, strongly objected to publication of its contents. She said she planned to have a statement today and would not say whether she will seek capital punishment.
Mr. Atkins said he has made up his mind.
"Even if the prosecutors do not seek the death penalty, I'll push for it," he wrote.
During summer 2000, Mr. Atkins stopped reporting to his Georgia probation officer and during that time worked for a now-defunct delivery service based in Augusta.
He wrote that he met Jessica sometime before the killing - either a few days or a few weeks - when he made a delivery to her house. He did not deliver to her home on the day of her death, he said.
Mr. Atkins said after the slaying he finished his route "like nothing had happened" and drove home to Grovetown.
"I sit in my cell day after day and ask myself, 'Why?"' Mr. Atkins wrote. "But as of right now I do not remember (raping) the young lady or of hurting her."
Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or firstname.lastname@example.org.