On a forum I hang out on, someone mentioned that he was going to have to go to court and see the kid who had (inadvertantly) killed his wife. He was going there to plead for mercy. (Apparently, the kid looked down for a moment to set something down, looked up, saw a car, WHAM.) He chose to share with us the text of the speech he gave. Yeah, it’s full of typos. I put it to you that this is worth the time to read anyway.
I wish the following victim impact statement be entered as an official statement from the xxxxx family, and taken into consideration as our wishes as you deliberate the fate and punishment of the defendant.
Justice is defined as “The quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness”.
In order to apply this principle one must first know the offended person, Maria .
Maria was my wife, lover, best friend, and the mother of our children. She was the balance in my life and she made me whole. We met 24 years ago while both serving in the Army, We fell madly in love and only after six months were married.
Maria was one of the few women in the Army to ever be awarded the rank of Corporal prior to receiving her Sergeant stripes. She served in Honduras during the Iran Contra scandal, and she saw battle in Desert storm. It is ironic that she survived mortar shells, and machine gun fire only to be killed by inattention.
She had just retired as a 100% disabled Veteran, like myself, and we were beginning planning our retirement: What amazing and wonderful things we would see and do together. Once the kids were grown, and we could begin new adventures and travels.
With all of this in mind, our family and I, first thought was to file civil suite. Not for the money, but that the defendant would have to think of what he did for the rest of his life. Even if it meant just 1 dollar removed from his check, the reminder would be there. And Maria’s pay, with a guaranteed check for the rest of her life, could be proven well into the millions in lost wages alone,Then, in the process, we learned the defendant, being on his father’s insurance, would not carry the burden as leans would be placed on his fathers wealth, property, and worth.
This end does not serve Justice. And we ended the pursuit of a civil case. As I mentioned before, money was not our motivation.
After countless sleepless nights, and nearly a year of deep thought on the mater, we came to the realization that the person offended was not us. Yes we lost our beloved Maria, but she was the victim in this case. We are merely the residual damage from the offense. With a new pair of eyes to asses the situation we began thinking in a whole new direction: What would Maria want.
Having been married to Maria for 24 years, I consider myself an expert on Maria’s mood’s, and reactions. I can surmise from my aforementioned knowledge, her first reaction would be anger. She would rant and pace for a few days, and as soon as the “storm” settled, she would begin to rationalize the situation. The situation being, an otherwise good, moral, innocent kid took his eyes off the road for 3 seconds, and in doing so made a horrible mistake which cost a life. Those are the hard cold facts.
The next part would be to determine what punishment would befit this mistake. To her. prison would be out of the question. This was a mistake, and although criminal in outcome, not criminal in intent. She would want community service related to the offense, such as going to schools and explaining to the children the outcome of his 3 seconds of inattention, complete with accident scene photo’s.
If there is justice to be served, than proactive justice is our wish and would have most certainly been her wish as well. Lastly we want the one thing we have wanted since the beginning of this horrible nightmare. We want an apology. That, in fact, is the only thing we have wanted from the beginning. We do not want a court ordered apology, but a sincere, heart felt apology. Sometime in the future, when he is ready, or able. Not today, not next week but far removed from the legal aspect of the ordeal.
Your Honor, we ask for mercy. As the last wish of our wife, mother, sister and friend we ask that you hold what we all know Maria would have wanted in the highest regard as you preside over what you decide to be just in this manner.
So what came of this? Well, the kid pled guilty, and then this statement was read to the court. That was the only thing the judge heard. He then issued judgement:
The judge made him promise to get his GED within 1 year, and sent him home.
Slight anger, perhaps
But all who knew Maria know she would have said “I’m so prrrrrroud of you.”
And we all know this is what SHE would have wanted.
NOTE: I know it is rife with errors, but I wrote it under slight duress, any way, I delivered the speech as it is written.
I really don’t think the typos and errors are all that big a deal, compared to the substance of the piece. After all the news stories I’ve read about how the family of the victim were trying to get “justice”, it’s a real change to see someone who gave a little more thought to what exactly “justice” is.
Date: 2012-08-23 10:02:48 -0500
I am the author Of the above speech, which I delivered in court yesterday (21 August, 2012).
First I want to thank all those who have written me, texted me, and shared a sense of hope and promise in these tough times.
Secondly I wish to apologize for my grammar as I wrote this under a great deal of stress and anguish.
Feel free to share this. If it saves one life as a result, I am more than happy that it was shared.
I am humbled by all of you, and hopefully I can pay it forward.