What I said to the judge today

In March of 1980 Carol and I had a son born three months premature who lived 6 days and passed away. Then we had a miscarriage. So when Sheena was born in 1985, I was a pretty nervous parent. The nurse handed me a bundle of screaming kid and as Sheena gazed into my eyes, she stopped crying. I knew at that minute that she was a Daddy’s girl. As she grew, she became my little pal. I took her fishing and to the park. She never called me Daddy, she always called me MY Daddy.

I helped her with her spelling words. We went to her school concerts and functions. It became apparent that she had NO sense of prejudice; she liked people who were nice and could not be bothered with mean people or unfairness. She always gravitated toward those who were picked on or shunned. Once in middle school, we got a call stating that she had skipped a class. It turned out that one of her friends who was different from the other kids had talked about killing herself. She and Sheena spent an hour behind a portable talking and crying together and Sheena talked her out of it. That girl came to Sheena’s service and told us how much that meant to her.

She was committed to serving those whose voice is rarely heard. She wanted to help juvenile offenders change their direction so they wouldn’t die in the streets or spend their lives in prison. While she was working at Echo Glenn, a juvenile prison, she told me of a 15 year old, tough gang kid. She challenged him to a game of jail spades. She told him to keep score. He refused. Finally she asked him if he could write. He said he didn’t know how. She said that IF she won he had to learn to write his name. If HE won, she would not bother him about school anymore. She DID win and over the next few days worked with him and he was so proud of what he learned, he wrote his name on everything he owned. She was a few months away from her bachelor degree in Law and Justice from Central Wash. U. We’ll never know how many at-risk youths she could have helped.

Sheena and I had a bond unlike any I have ever known. We could glance at each other and know exactly what the other was thinking. We could make each other laugh; we could make each others’ troubles bearable. She was the apple of my eye; she was my daddy’s girl.

When my father died in 1991, I felt like a rowboat cut adrift. But I always felt like I was drifting toward the sun. When Sheena was killed, that sun went out, and now I drift in the darkness. Sheena has a little sister who was born three months premature but survived. Amy has developmental disabilities. I always had the peace of mind knowing that when I die, Amy would have her big sister to watch over her. THAT died on February 26th.

I struggle through my days, sometimes robotically. It can be a song on the radio, watching a man playing with his grandchildren or seeing a little red car drive down my street and thinking “Sheena’s home” and then start sobbing when the reality hits….again.

I feel that imposing a minimum sentence in this case would dishonor Sheena’s memory, and her legacy. The demeanor of the defendant at the scene of this crime was troubling. According to police reports, she was staggering and giggling as one young man lay dead on the sidewalk and Sheena was trapped in the wreckage of her car. There was NO sign of contrition or remorse. She has been free on personal recognizance since the night this crime occurred, as we went through Amy’s prom, her graduation, Mother’s day, Father’s day and my birthday. Even after pleading guilty to four felonies, she remained free. While we endured Thanksgiving, what WOULD have been Sheena’s 25th birthday, Christmas and the beginning of a New Year all without Sheena.

Sheena was doing a favor for a friend the night she was killed. She and her friends were not drunk, not high on drugs, they weren’t out looking for trouble or going to a bar, She was on her way home. She promised to be home at 11:00 and she would have were it not for the actions of the defendant. She had every right to be where she was, doing what she was doing. The defendant was drunk, she was high on marijuana and driving the wrong way on Broadway going to a bar. For that irresponsibility and reckless disregard for the safety of others, my girl was killed. The punishment must fit the crime.

We are not mean-spirited or vindictive people. We do not seek vengeance. BUT we DO seek justice. Many things were crushed that…..night at the hands of the defendant, among those was my heart. IF Sheena’s spirit is here in this room today, and I believe that she IS, I would say to her: We think of you constantly, we miss you desperately and we love you eternally.