Hahn left legacy of 'participating in life' and helping others
Posted March 19, 2015
Updated March 20, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Since her death nearly two years ago, Jamie Kirk Hahn's legacy of "participating in life" and helping others has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars being raised for charities, an eponymous foundation dedicated to empowering others to promote change in their communities and an army of volunteers stepping up to do good for those in need.
That legacy is what Hahn's parents and husband, Nation Hahn, want people to remember about the 29-year-old political strategist who was attacked and stabbed in her north Raleigh home by a man she considered to be one of her closest friends.
"Jamie's murder reverberates in a widespread manner, and I just think about what all she would have accomplished if she had gotten past that 29th year," her father, Chris Kirk, said Thursday during a sentencing hearing for Jonathan Wayne Broyhill, who was convicted Wednesday of her first-degree murder.
Broyhill's life sentence, imposed by Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway, followed an emotional morning of testimony from Jamie Hahn's family who described their loss and pain as immense and their grief as raw.
"I would give anything, anything, anything, anything to hold her in my arms – to see her make what I would refer to as a frog face when she was getting ready to kiss me – to kiss her, to hold her, to tell her I love her again, but I can't," Nation Hahn said.
He also talked about his struggles of wanting to die after losing his wife.
"Until you've had someone who you've loved taken from you, you'll never know what it is to hit a valley so deep that you can't see a way out, so deep you can't imagine ever seeing light again," he said.
But it was because of Jamie Hahn's life, he said, that he survived.
Kirk said his daughter loved life and was always working on projects that would make others' lives better.
She mentored at the YMCA. Instead of receiving gifts at parties, she would encourage guests to bring canned food that she would later donate to food pantries. Just before her death, she had been taking steps to start her own nonprofit to help children on free lunch get meals when they were not in school.
"She had grown into such an amazing person – someone who made a difference in the lives of people," her stepmother, Teresa Kirk, said. "Her ideals were grounded in social awareness. She was committed to making her community better, and she seemed to possess a real gift to be able to make a difference in her world. "
She was loyal and would do anything she could for those she loved, her mother, Debra Funderburk, said. And Jamie Hahn loved Broyhill.
The Hahns treated him like family. He vacationed with them, spent holidays with them, often spent the night at their home and even served as best man in their wedding four years earlier.
They had just returned from a beach trip with friends on April 21, 2013, the day before Broyhill stabbed Jamie Hahn numerous times and then nearly sliced off Nation Hahn's left fingers when he tried to save his wife.
"Jon, you killed her. You tried to kill me, but you can't kill her spirit. You can't kill what made her so special," Nation Hahn told the 33-year-old Broyhill, at times calling him a murderer.
Broyhill, whom a jury found guilty after less than 90 minutes of deliberation, sat with his head bowed for most of the hour-long hearing, looking up briefly only when Jamie Hahn's family called on him.
"Jon, you gave Jamie a death sentence," her father said. "You gave all the rest of us a life sentence, and now, you can share in that life sentence, Jon."
Ridgeway also sentenced Broyhill to 19 to 25 years on two charges relating to the attempted murder of Nation Hahn.
"It's easy to trust less. It's easy to be suspicious. It's easy not to take people at face value, but I think the lesson that Jamie would want us all to know is that we should still be open to the essential goodness of so many," Nation Hahn said.