Slain Trooper's Family Says Execution Is Not Vengeance

The brother of a slain state trooper says executing the killer will close a chapter in the family's quest for justice, but not the suffering each member has endured.

"I've heard people say this will bring closure to it,'' Kirk Ladner said in a telephone interview Friday. "It will never be closure. Maybe for the lack of definition, it will be another chapter."

"We have another chapter started. Bruce's oldest son has two children and you look at them, knowing they will never have a chance to know what grandfather is,'' Ladner said.

Tracy Alan Hansen, now 39, was convicted in the 1987 killing of Trooper Bruce Ladner, who was gunned down after pulling over Hansen's car for speeding on Interstate 10. The jury returned a death sentence. A female companion was sentenced to life in prison.

Hansen is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the state penitentiary at Parchman, barring any successful last minute appeals.

Kirk Ladner, 46, and his wife reared his brother's two boys. Now grown, Brandon Ladner is a deputy sheriff in Harrison County, while Damon Ladner works in his uncle's construction business in Gulfport. The three will represent the family at the execution.

Kirk Ladner said the killing of his brother changed the lives of relatives, friends and members of the coast's law enforcement community.

"Sometimes, it gets a little easier to live with. Wounds start to heal maybe,'' he said. "You don't forget and then it gets opened again and it really comes back fresh.''

Ladner said the family is not out for vengeance.

"I've had people ask me: `Can you forgive him?' My answer to that is I think I can forgive his soul but his worldly body needs to take punishment. We, as a family, have done a lot of soul-searching. As far as the Christian aspects of our life, we feel like this execution is justified,'' he said.

Hansen's attorney, Merrida Coxwell of Jackson, said Hansen is unlikely to have relatives attend the execution.

"He does have some family, but they've never really cared anything about him. He has other people who care for him, but the family has not been one of them,'' Coxwell said.

Religious groups and victims' rights organizations are planning prayer vigils outside the penitentiary Wednesday.