April 13th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

From anger to forgiveness: Man befriends brother's killer

By Rose Arce, CNN

New York (CNN) - The day Anthony Colon heard his older brother had been gunned down in East Harlem, he began struggling with a rage that would last for years.

The anger wore him down. He missed him desperately.

He hated the three men who had fired 13 bullets into his brother who was unarmed.

“Oh, God, it just - it just put so much hate in my life. I hated everybody. I hated everything. It made me to be a person, like a monster,” said Colon, who considered his brother Wilfredo his only stable family.

“I loved him because he always stood up for me from a little kid. He would not even allow me to fight. He would stand up for me, whatever happened, because he always saw that goodness in me.”

But as the years passed the fog of anger began to lift.

He married. Had two children. He welcomed religion into his life.

And, he was overwhelmed by a desire to find reconciliation with his brother’s killer.

“I just wanted it to be OK,” he said.

Then one summer day, a chance encounter while visiting a friend at the Eastern Correctional Facility in Ulster County, New York, changed his life.

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He looked across the room and saw Michael Rowe, one of the men who had murdered his brother.

Rowe saw him too and tried to duck down.

“I was expecting that we would be you know, it would be a fight, some type of physical violent altercation ,” said Rowe.

Rowe recalls feeling remorse and shame, unable to forgive himself for murdering another young man – and afraid of retaliation.

Colon walked straight up to him and said: “Brother, I’ve been praying for you. I forgave you. I’ve been praying I would see you again.”

The meeting would transform both men’s lives.

Rowe had married the same girl he was dating when he went to prison. They were able to have three children together during his imprisonment, and he wanted desperately to parent them even as he served a sentence of 20 years to life.

“I figured I would die in prison. Or at least leave there a very old man with grey hair,” he said.

“I still don’t think that I’ll ever truly be able to forgive myself because of the things that I’ve done. Because I take full responsibility for what I did. And I completely, and as best as anyone could, understand the pain that I have caused.

“I think for me, forgiveness will come in doing good works, trying to help others. But as far as forgiving myself I don’t think I will ever get to that place.”

In prison he was befriended by Julio Medina of Exodus Transitional Community, which prepares inmates for their release.

Rowe studied and soon he got an associate’s degree, then a bachelor’s. As he was studying for his master’s degree in Professional Studies, Colon began visiting him regularly.

CNN Living: A killer in the family

“To have that kind of support from the man whose brother he killed, that is remarkable,” said Medina. “Not only does it lift that cloud of shame that he walks with, but more importantly it allows him to have a second chance with the blessings of the victim's brother.”

The day of his graduation, Colon surprised Rowe by coming to put on his robe. He also came to his parole hearing, where Rowe said this to the board deciding his fate:

“Anthony is my hero. I have two sons, and if my sons grow up to be half the man that Anthony Colon is, I will be an incredibly proud father. And I don’t know if I can sum it up or explain any better than that how I feel about Anthony Colon. He has changed my life.”

Colon believes religion has propelled him to forgive Rowe.

“For some reason I felt that he was dealing with all that he was dealing with. Like condemnation. Self-pity. Just like this hovering darkness that was around. I felt that, when people think that’s strange, but it’s just the part of the nature of a person that’s closely connected to God. There’s a connection with God that can allow you to see past what’s in front of you,” he said.

Rowe was released from prison this week after 20 years, a man who has not seen the world since he was barely grown up.

He showed up at one of his children’s elementary schools with cupcakes and gave her the surprise of her life. He saw the home where he will be living with his wife and three children for the first time. And he went to see Anthony Colon, who he will join at Exodus reaching out to young men at risk.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“God has a purpose for me. God has a purpose for us,” said Rowe, sitting alongside Colon at the offices of Exodus. “Yes, us,” adds Colon smiling.

Meanwhile, Rowe is adjusting to life on the outside.

He is mystified by cell phones and the gentrification of the neighborhood where he fell into drugs and killed a man.

Exodus is helping him cope with routine life skills that seem overwhelming to him like having the power to make daily decisions over what to eat, when to talk, going outside.

Colon is helping him with that too, so he can see a life beyond prison and they can both put an end to 20 years of pain.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Faith • Spirituality

soundoff (734 Responses)
  1. Science

    Free speech helps educate the masses

    Gravity is not up for debate !

    BY the way ...................Splat goes a fairy in the sky !...............bye bye tinker bell !

    Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet

    Apr. 25, 2013 — A strange stellar pair nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth has provided physicists with a unique cosmic laboratory for studying the nature of gravity. The extremely strong gravity of a massive neutron star in orbit with a companion white dwarf star puts competing theories of gravity to a test more stringent than any available before


    Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

    The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

    The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

    Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.


    April 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

    May 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |

    Dinosaur Egg Study Supports Evolutionary Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs: How Troodon Likely Hatched Its Young


    And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !

    From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

    May 3, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Science

      Oops source...........for Origin of Life !


      May 3, 2013 at 8:48 am |
  2. helen

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    May 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Sure

      He cut the head off a bat, burried it in my lawn and the next day Ed MacMahon showed up with six thousand dollars!!!! I just can't believe it!

      May 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  3. kevobx

    White America is using religion to fight it's battles, these satanists are so subtle so cunning, they made their wickedness as mainstream. The worldly people say you have to change with the times or be lost. *Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: *Malachi 3:6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. *Matthew 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. (Deuteronomy 28:68)

    April 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Science

      Hey kevobx please follow link cool science..................then read comments............and comment thanks for the help !


      May 1, 2013 at 8:07 am |
  4. kevobx

    God is love and he does not love everyone, because everyone does not love him.Do unto others as others do you. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we shall then? (Proverbs 6:16-19) Grace and truth is Christ. The truth sets you free (Deuteronomy 28:68)

    April 29, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  5. kevobx

    Warning, America refuses to acknowledge the trans atlantic slave trade route, why did they separate all those tribes? The 144,000 are redeemed, our God turned the curse in a blessing (Nehemiah 13:2-3) *Exodus 19:11 And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. *Galatians 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. *Isaiah 21:13 The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye traveling companies of Dedanim. *Ezekiel 27:20 Dedan was thy merchant in precious clothes for chariots. *Luke 24:21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. *Exodus 19:15 And he said to unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives. *Matthew 27:63-64 Saying, Sir we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

    April 29, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  6. sofia

    My name is Mrs sofia , from united kingdom.after being in relationship with
    my husband for 8 years, he broke up with me, I did everything possible to
    bring him back, I wanted him back so much because of the love we both
    shared together and my 2 kids, I begged him with everything i had but all
    in vain. I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to my
    friend online and she suggested that I should contact a spell caster that
    could help me cast a spell to bring him back but i never believed in spell,
    I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster PROPHET dudu and
    he told me never to worry that everything will be taking care of before
    three days that my husband will return to me, he cast the spell and
    surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4 pm when my husband called
    me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was
    so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him,
    that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we
    started living together happily again.I have made promise that anybody i
    know that have any problem i would be of help to the person by referring
    him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me solve
    my problem,email him on dudubabathespellcasre@gmail.com

    April 28, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • haha

      you could be the dudubaba trying to fleece some one of money with a FAKE story

      May 1, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • haha

      you could be the dudubaba trying to fleece some one of money with a false story

      May 1, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • freedom of speech both ways

      lies from the pit of hell

      May 3, 2013 at 7:38 am |
  7. Thomas

    “God existed before there were human beings on Earth, He holds the entire world, believers and non-believers, in His omnipotent hand for eternity." - Max Planck (Founder of Quantum Mechanics)

    "I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily."– Issac Newton

    April 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  8. Thomas


    April 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  9. By-his-stripes-we-are-healed

    Awesome! the power of forgiveness! Its sad that we live in a day where many Christians talk about forgiveness but then they want to punish people for doing wrong. isnt that what the flesh wants? what about Jesus, who prayed for those that beat him, nailed him to a cross and spit on him, left him to die? Instead of acting like we were forgiven of our messed up past, we act like we were never wrong. We gotta live FORGIVEN and forgive others. 🙂 God bless these 2 men.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Yeah I read that story too.
      Too many impossibilities and contradictions to be believed.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  10. Brett

    Forgiveness is the key to so many things. We need to be forgiven by God for our sins, and Jesus taught us that we must be willing to fogive others for their sins against us if we hope to be forgiven by God for our sins against Him. Without the sacrifice of Chirst we would be without hope. Jesus paid our penalty on the cross. If you have not yet received God's forgiveness through faith in Christ and His sacrifice on your behalf than ask Him now to come into your life and forgive you for all your sins. Than you will know HIs forgiveness and blessing. Follow HIm as He leads you going forward. God bless

    April 27, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Marvin

      Amen Brett. Its all about forgiveness. I know that I have been fogiven by God becuase I have received Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah and Savior and Lord. The moment I asked Him into my life I felt a weight lifted and the peace of God fill my heart and soul. We all need God's forgivenss. May many find peace with God through Yeshua/Jesus. Shalom

      April 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  11. bnakka

    I cannot believe some of the people on these boards. Do they read the article completely? Or do they read the first few lines and cannot wait to post a comment.

    The person who killed "Rowe" is clearly stating that though he may have been forgiven by the brother he will never forgive himself. He is remorseful.

    To people like Maria: Forgiveness is not erasing the wrong doing and cleaning the slate. Forgiveness is to know the transgression and how bad it is and still chose to not judge. Forgiveness is not to forget the wrong doing but having the love to excuse the wrongdoer and give them a chance. Just like Jesus teaches, he truly is for the sinners because we need him.

    April 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • mara

      Beautifully stated. When I think of what Jesus has forgiven me for I find it impossible NOT to forgive someone else who has done me wrong.

      April 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • cnn troll

      I never read the articles. I only come here to troll. If it weren't for people like maria I'd have no angry people to lash out at, and I might have to actually get off my butt and get a hobby. Just sayin.

      April 24, 2013 at 6:21 am |
  12. Pierce

    Maria: Why does one man's peace bring you so much anger and hatred? It seems that you are filled with a rage that stems from some other kind of pain. I can't believe that you would anonymously attack this man for finding peace in the face of trials. Maybe you should focus on healing from the pain that caused you to become such an angry person.

    April 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  13. Andrew

    The brother in this story does not impress me. In fact, I think it's just plain weird to forgive someone who intentionally killed your brother. I understand the need to move on and not let it control your life, but he's taken it way to far.

    April 23, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Science

      For what...................... ? Make sure to read what the pope said !

      Where do morals come from?

      By Kelly Murray, CNN


      Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”


      Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
      Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \



      Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
      By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...


      April 7th, 2012

      08:32 PM ET

      The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth


      Make sure to read comments

      April 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |

      Breaking News

      NASA: Three planets found are some of best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our solar system.


      April 23, 2013 at 8:21 am |
  14. clarity

    God is real. Jesus is the answer. Atheism is a delusional form of stupidity and stubbornness

    April 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Hans

      "Atheism is a delusional form of stupidity and stubbornness"

      You are not a Christian and you bring shame to Christ.

      James 4:11-12
      Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

      James 1:26
      If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.

      Ephesians 4:31-32
      Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

      April 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • cnn troll

      I understand Hans, it's hard to own it when it's one of your own...but if I have to "own" the butthole skeptics on here you get to own clarity.

      April 24, 2013 at 6:40 am |
  15. maria

    All this people with their fake prayers their fake forgiveness,just make me sick ! a bunch of hypocrits is all what they are ! I worked with people with the bible in their hands and they were more sinnsers than me ! one was having 6 kids fro m different men not married and of course with the bible in her hands and preaching and prayin this people make me sick ill! really I don't need your pprayers I am fine ! you need to pray for yourselves you are more sinners that anyone ! do ui know that one of the books who people most stole is >>>>THe BIBLE ha ha ha imagine you reading the bible after you stole from t the hotel now that is funny! I call that such hypocrits!

    April 22, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • Dante

      You mentioned that Bibles are being "stolen" from hotels. Those Bibles are placed by the Gideons. The Gideons are a group of business executives who pay for Bibles to be printed. They want you to take them. It's OK.

      April 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  16. maria

    Religion is the # ! of scams! the pastors getting multimillionaires,the pirests molesting children whaoo scam scamers!

    April 22, 2013 at 6:19 am |
    • freedom of speech both ways

      wow...get off the substance, whatever you are taking. calm down...goodness!

      May 3, 2013 at 7:43 am |
  17. maria

    Hey ALARK it is not bigotry we all know the Government pay for this kids the welfare did it ,do you think that a college graduate woman classy rich is going to breed three kids from a convict murderer? you know your kind!why so confrontational and defensive? is all real and it is true!

    April 22, 2013 at 6:09 am |
  18. maria

    It makes me sick of my stomach seeing this moron hugging and laughfing with his brother killer I just don't believe it! I wonder if his brother is revolving in his grave seeing his brother having a new pal his own killer,and only 20 years? is all what you pay when you kill someobody without reason? is his mother agreeing too? what is going on? look the place were this man lives is better than mine and I never went to jail,he got instead education free education whooo only in America ,he was able tp breed three kids it makes me disgusting! this guy is having a frienship with this murderer? umbelievable! I will never ever forgive someone who hurt one fo my family EVER! I am not kidding I am after I saw with my own eyes this segment ......!

    April 22, 2013 at 5:43 am |
    • glenna

      You need to learn how to spell and write a sentence CORRECTLY before you go criticizing people. Your misspelled words and sentence formation is SAD! After trying decipher what you are trying to say, I cannot even take your opinion SERIOUSLY.

      April 25, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  19. maria

    I will never ever forget or forgive the killers of a love one! hw stupid hwo dumb! so if you forgive are you now will visit them in jail,or take care of them? can't understand that baloney forgive forget ever!!!!!!!!Oh my GOD you laugh and embrace him too? umbelievable and even hug him whaoooooooo! I bet your brother os turning around the grave ready to get you! awful! not feelings at all! was a misatake !

    April 22, 2013 at 5:27 am |
    • cnn troll

      What if they were dating? I bet you'd have a stroke.

      April 24, 2013 at 6:22 am |
  20. frankmf

    It is a great and amazing thing that happened here and it shows, what people can be capable of, if they really practice what they preach. Some of you should just accept this decision and go on with your own life, trying to do good tdeeds to others.

    April 22, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • maria

      Yeah ! right I wonder if you will do that if someone kills one of your family member yeah right! forget the baloney of "forgiving "is just baloney reading this segment I became sick really sick seeing this moron embrace and laugh with the person wh murderer his brother it is outrageous to me !

      April 22, 2013 at 5:46 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.