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Heroic girl played possum.

Back on August 23, 2002, Courtney Sharon was just 10 years old. Her family in Warsaw, Kentucky, included her mother, Carolyn Marksberry; her stepfather, Chuck Marksberry; her seven-year-old sister, Chelbi; and her six-year-old brother, Cody. On that evening, however, her stepfather was away from home on business.

When a family friend by the name of Marco Chapman came to the door in the middle of the night, Courtney's mother wasn't suspicious and let him in. That would prove to be a fatal error. When her back was turned, Chapman approached her from behind and put a knife to her throat.

He first robbed Mrs. Marksberry, then tied her up and started stabbing her. In a 2005 interview with ABC's Primetime Live, Marksberry recalled the event and said, "I was terrified, absolutely terrified."

Mrs. Marksberry's screams woke all three of her children, who ran to see what was happening. Chapman attacked them as well. After Courtney was attacked, she laid still, pretending to be dead.

As soon as she felt it was safe, Courtney ran out the back door to a neighbor's house. She related the story to Primetime Live reporter Cynthia McFadden: "I grabbed my brother's hand, and I said, 'I gotta go get help.' He said 'No, don't leave me.' And I said, 'I'll be there in a minute, I'll be back.'"

The attacker heard the door slam and ran off. The neighbor called 911, summoning assistance. Paramedics arrived in time to save Mrs. Marksberry, and Kentucky State Police detective Todd Harwood said that Courtney "not only saved her life, she saved her mother's as well."

Unfortunately, Courtney's sister, Chelbi, and brother, Cody, did not survive. But Courtney was able to render one final service on their behalf, by supplying identifying information that helped in their killer's arrest and prosecution. Detective Harwood said that Courtney had "just a remarkable recall for a little girl of that age. I've dealt with hundreds of children over the course of my career, Courtney has to fit at the very top."

Showing courage, Courtney agreed to testify against Chapman in court. "I wanted to get to see him and show him that I'm not afraid of him anymore," she explained.

In fact, the opposite was likely true--Chapman seemed so intimidated by the young girl's presence that he pleaded guilty. He even asked for the death penalty !

Prosecutor Linda Tally Smith attributed Chapman's resignation to his fate to "the bravery of Courtney."
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Title Annotation:THE GOODNESS OF AMERICA; Courtney Sharon
Author:Mass, Warren
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1U6KY
Date:Jan 23, 2006
Words:408
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