Statements and testimony by the boys' mothers, other family members and counselors revealed that both boys had been victims of vicious beatings and other forms of abuse at the hands of their fathers. However, the fates of the boys after the killings were completely different. One boy was placed on 15 years' probation and set free. The other boy was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison. The difference in the sentence dramatizes the vagaries of the legal system and the complexities involved in passing judgment. Also discussed are the questions raised about the role of public agencies in handling the more than 1 million child-abuse reports filed each year in the nation.