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Indiana County man who survived attack that killed family yearns to tell murderer he’s at peace

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Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
Larry 'R.J.' Bobish was 12 years old when convicted killer Mark D. Edwards Jr. shot him in the head and killed his parents, Larry Bobish Sr. and Joanna Bobish, and his pregnant sister, 17-year-old Krystal Bobish, at their Fayette County home.
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Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
Larry 'R.J.' Bobish poses for a portrait with his adoptive parents, Mark and Kristi Altrogge of Indiana.

If Larry “R.J.” Bobish Jr. could have his way, the Fayette County man who fatally shot his mother, father and pregnant sister 12 years ago would not pay with his life.

“I don’t agree with it,” said Bobish of Indiana, who is the lone survivor of Mark Duane Edwards Jr.’s deadly attack at his former home in North Union. “I honestly hope that he would not be executed.”

Edwards, 32, was convicted of three counts of murder in 2004 and sentenced to death for shooting and stabbing Larry A. Bobish, 50; his wife, Joanna, 42; and their pregnant daughter, Krystal, 17, during a burglary and arson at the family’s home on April 14, 2002.

Gov. Tom Corbett last month signed Edwards’ death warrant.

Edwards is to be killed by lethal injection Jan. 13, but a motion seeking to stay the sentence was filed Monday in Fayette County.

Bobish said he wants to meet Edwards — but not in anger.

“I forgive him, even though my family was taken away from me,” said Bobish, who spoke Monday at the Indiana home of his adoptive parents, Mark and Kristi Altrogge. “I know he (Edwards) has a son, and I would not want his son to grow up without a family.”

Bobish said his father was a talented auto mechanic who specialized in body work. Knee surgery sidelined him, so he turned to selling “wet” or “water,” a liquid containing PCP and embalming fluid that users ingest by smoking cigarettes dipped into the solution. Bobish said his mother and sister used the drug.

“I kept on begging my mom. … I begged her to stop, but it’s addictive,” he said.

Bobish was 12 on that day in 2002, when Edwards awakened the family at 5:30 a.m. to confront Bobish’s father over a drug dispute. Bobish said Edwards had robbed his parents of drugs and money two days earlier, and his father was trying to recoup his losses.

Now 25, Bobish has not forgotten the attack.

Edwards took his father to the kitchen, pulled a gun and shot him twice, Bobish said. He heard his father fall to the floor, he said, then watched as Edwards came for him.

“He shot me,” Bobish said, raising his hands to his face to show how he tried to protect himself. “It went through my hand and into my head, and then I hit the ground.”

Edwards went into a bedroom and shot Bobish’s mother as she slept. When Krystal shouted at Edwards to stop, Edwards shot his sister, Bobish said.

“Then he went through the house, looking for drugs, looking for whatever he could find, and then he came at me again,” Bobish said. “That’s when he cut me.”

Bobish said he remembers Edwards stabbing him five times, then covering him with a blanket before he lost consciousness.

Edwards left the family for dead and set the house ablaze. Bobish said crackling flames and intense heat awakened him.

“I had to walk toward the fire to get out” the front door, Bobish said. “I walked out, stumbled and crawled to my driveway.”

An off-duty state trooper delivering newspapers with his two sons happened upon the burning house and tried to rescue Bobish’s family, but the flames drove him back, he said.

Bobish, who was hospitalized for a month, bears scars on his face, arm and back from the slashing. The bullet, which lodged near his skull, migrated to his back, where it remains.

Bobish said he forgave Edwards soon after the killings.

“I don’t know how I did it, and I don’t know why, but I was at ease, at peace with it, from the beginning,” Bobish said. “Ever since everything has happened, I’ve forgiven him for what he’s done. … I believe Jesus died for us. God paid for our sins and gives mercy. If Jesus can do that, I can forgive someone.”

He said he wanted to write Edwards during his trial, but prosecutors advised against it.

“I have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to talk to this guy, and if it makes a difference in his life, I would love for that to happen,” Bobish said. “I would love to tell him, in person, that I forgive him.”

Bobish said he wants his adoptive father, a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church in Indiana, to accompany him.

“The main thing to me is, if he’s going to die, I want to hope he would get saved before it would happen,” Bobish said. “I believe everyone should get a chance to have that happen.”

Bobish said he thinks about his mother, father and sister daily, but he has made a life for himself. He works two jobs and recently partnered with a friend to form a real estate company, Bobish & Montoya LLC.

“It happened, and you have to make the best of your situation,” Bobish said. “I have my real family (members) back home, and they support me, and my family here supports me. Thinking about it is only going to make it worse. If that’s all that consumes your thoughts, it’s not a good thing.”

His uncle, William Bobish of Fairchance, Fayette County, said he intends to attend Edwards’ execution.

In Monday’s motion, U.S. Public Defender James Moreno seeks a stay so he can pursue an appeal through the Post Conviction Relief Act. A previous death warrant, signed in 2007, was stayed so Edwards could pursue federal appeals.

Pennsylvania last carried out an execution in 1999.

Bobish said he cried when he learned Edwards’ death warrant had been signed, because it brought back memories of his family, and “then it went over to Mark Edwards, so it’s happening, he’s going to die.”

Bobish said although he feels the death penalty is a justifiable punishment in some cases, he will not attend Edwards’ execution.

“It’s going to be a sad day for both families, honestly,” Bobish said. “I don’t want that to happen to their family, and I don’t think my parents would want to be there, to watch that, if it was in another situation.”

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or [email protected].

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