Parole hearing; not just a rubber stamp…who knew?!?!

First, I have to start off by saying a HUGE thank you to everyone who emailed, posted on Facebook or tweeted me in the last week to say “we are here for you and pulling for your family.” Hubby and I were just blown away by the outpouring of support, thoughtfulness, love, and encouragement we received from our in-person and virtual friends and family. Your notes and prayers were appreciated more than words could ever begin to convey.

YOU. GUYS. ROCK!

Thank you will never quite capture our humbled gratitude….

Ok, so on to the good stuff; the parole hearing that we attended Wednesday. If you are not up to speed on our impaired driving story, check it out here first for all the deets.

Buckle up because I fear this could be a lengthy post. I want y’all to get a real sense for what a Canadian Parole Board hearing looks and feels like.

Westmorland Institution

We arrived at the Westmorland Institute (a minimum security jail) at around 8 am. We met up with hubby’s two aunts and their husbands and hubby’s youngest sister. We were all shocked to see the accommodations for prisoners are rows and rows of townhouses (no fencing or anything).

We later found out that each “townhouse” or “unit” as they are called houses 4 to 5 prisoners. They are two to a room with a shared bathroom, living room (with TV) and kitchen. Each unit is allotted a weekly budget and the 4-5 men have to arrange/negotiate to buy their own groceries (from the Institution’s grocery store), cook and clean for themselves.

If any of us thought that Trent was sitting in a 6X9 cement jail cell like you see on TV, we were sorely mistaken.

But I digress.

We were ushered into the main administration complex. There we gathered in a boardroom with a communications liaison from the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) who walked us through how everything would proceed and answered all of our questions.

We found out that Trent was applying for either of 3 types of parole:

  • Temporary Absence: This is usually the first type of release an offender may be granted. They can be escorted (ETA) or unescorted (UTA). Trent was applying for 3 UTAs each for 72 hours (think a weekend at a halfway house). ETAs and UTAs are granted so offenders may receive medical treatment; contact with their family; undergo personal development and/or counselling; and participate in community service work projects.
  • Day Parole: This is to help prepare an offender for release on full parole or statutory release by allowing the offender to participate in community-based activities. Offenders on day parole must return nightly to an institution or a halfway house unless otherwise authorized.
  • Full parole: This is when an offender serves the remainder of the sentence under supervision in the community (in his own apartment etc). There are usually conditions associated with this type of release (curfew, alcohol/drugs abstinence etc). An offender must report to a parole supervisor on a regular basis.

While on any kind of these parole programs, if an offender commits a crime or doesn’t meet any of the conditions set, they can be remanded back to the Institution to complete the remainder of their sentence.

Enough with the boring tech stuff, right?

Ok, so we find out that Trent is applying for either of the 3 but we also find out that his parole officer who supported his pending application for parole back in December 2011 has since withdrawn that support. Likely due to the fact that Trent’s psych evaluation came back in February 2012 showing him at a high to medium risk to re-offend. Neither the psychologist nor his parole officer were supporting his application for parole.

This peaked our interest. Why would he go forward with the application? Cynically, I think most of us assumed it was because the process was rubber stamp approval.

Little did we know.

The Hearing

At 9 am, we were escorted into the parole hearing room. At the front of the room, sitting facing the observers (the Kennie family, a couple of students and a few cops) were 2 parole board hearing officers; one a retired warden of 30 years and the other a long-time police office/parole officer. Trent, the offender, was sitting facing the parole board accompanied by his assistant (this is someone who sits beside the offender and is granted the opportunity to make a statement on the offender’s behalf – Trent had his mother as his assistant).

Another thing we didn’t know is that at the parole board looks at the offender as whole. That means they don’t take into account only the offense that landed the person in jail, they look at the entire criminal history (if there is one) along with all circumstances. They parole board can ask the person next to anything; childhood, any and all criminal activities, recovery etc. The board is there to assess whether the offender presents a risk to re-offend.

We knew Trent had something of a sketchy past with a couple of assault charges and failure to comply with some probation orders but that was the extent of our knowledge. To our surprise, the assault charges became the crux of the discussion between Trent and the parole board.

Assault Charges

For over an hour, they grilled him about the incidents (both involving women); why did his life take a turn to violence in his 30s, why women, how has he changed, what happened, did he drink, did he abuse drugs, what contributed to his destructive lifestyle choices? They didn’t stop or let up. Question after question.

Trent’s responses were mostly that he had been out of control, financially strained, unhappy, had unreasonable expectations, and that the abuse only happened towards the end of the relationships (even though the parole board had testimony from both women that it had been ongoing and lengthy). He was evasive when it came to admitting to specific details of the assaults and dismissive about the level of violence he demonstrated. When pushed by the parole board with conflicted reports from the women, he would answer with “well…her recollection is likely better than mine…” but would still admit or own to nothing.

Psych Evaluation

Then the board turned its attention to the psych evaluation and how the psychologist deemed Trent to be egocentric with anti-social tendencies, that he was evasive, dismissive, and minimized his offences while blaming and justifying his choices and actions.

Trent said he didn’t agree and couldn’t understand where the psychologist was coming from. Again the parole board pushed him. If he disagreed with the evaluation, why did he sign off on it, why didn’t he appeal it, why didn’t he ask for changes to the wording? In signing it, he essentially “okayed” the report but now claimed to disagree with it. And exactly what points did he disagree with? They grilled him.

Trent’s Overall Defence

Trent talked about how through his one-on-one counselling and doing the programs at the jail, he had learned better coping mechanism, to not let things build up but to address issues as they arose, to manage his expectations, to negotiate, to express himself and his feelings while listening to and taking into considerations how other people think and feel.

He said he felt his career in construction also led him to the lifestyle choices because the people he worked with drank and did drugs and upon his release, he wanted to go back to school to become an electrician and to be a better father to his daughter. He talked at length about how the Trent that walked into jail and the Trent today were two very different people.

Impaired Driving Causing Death

When they asked him about the impaired driving cause death, he admitted that he had drank 4 to 5 beer and shared a joint with 2 people and just “wasn’t thinking” when he got behind the wheel of the truck. He wanted to go so he left. He said he didn’t consider the safety of others on the road or even if he was ok to drive. He said any negative consequence never occurred to him at all.

He said he was sorry. He didn’t intend to hurt or kill anyone that day. He did set out with that in mind. It just happened.

Our Thoughts

It was tough. It was very emotional. We felt very much on pins and needles. We’ve never felt like Trent fully accepted responsibility for his choices that day. Or that he truly understands the depth of our loss, the nature and ripple effect of his choice; the impact.

We were hopeful at the parole hearing we’d see remorse and devastation and deep sorrow for what he’d done. But we were left high and dry once again. His words fell flat and seemed devoid of emotion and sincerity. It felt like because he believes he didn’t “intend” to kill someone, that it was an accident truly out of his control that he’s sorry for.

It’s pretty clear that he hasn’t accepted that it was his choice to drive impaired that killed a woman. What his intent was or wasn’t is a moot point, the fact of that matter is he murdered a woman. And THAT realization has obviously not happened yet.

Victim Impact Statements

After an hour and a half of questioning, it was time for the victims to have a say. Hubby’s sister got up and addressed the board with her heart wrenching victim impact statement. She talked about how haunted she is and how tortured her family is. How she fears for Trent’s possible retaliation upon his release. How she fears for the likelihood that he will drive impaired and kill someone again. How her children miss and mourn their nanny and how her youngest daughter will only ever know her nanny from a photograph.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Well, except for Trent and his mother who seemed to sit like stone.

Then hubby got up and read his statement. He did so well. He read from his heart, his words and voice filled with emotion. Tears running down his face, he laid his soul out raw for the parole board to see.

Assistant’s Statement

Then it was Trent’s mother’s opportunity to speak.

Sitting in a pink blazer wearing pink, lace Madonna gloves, she talked about how sorry she was for the Kennie family but how we “need to understand that they aren’t the only victims here” (I believe at this point my jaw dropped).

That her family has suffered greatly as well. That they are victims too. That since Trent has been in jail, her husband has suffered heart problems from the stress of it and that they “have no one to help with yard work” (NO JOKE – her words!).

She talked about how they are a Christian family and that she has never seen a beer in Trent’s hand, let alone him do drugs.

WAIT….it gets better!

And in regards to the assaults and violence against women…”well…you know how girls are today?!?!…..after break-ups, they will lie to get revenge.

WHAT THE F*CK?!?!?!

I near fell off my chair.

I wanted to leap over every chair and every person and bitch slap this woman upside the head.

I really did. It took every ounce of self-control not to.

I was stunned. The show of total and blatant disregard for our family’s suffering at the hands of her son, the total and complete egotism and self-centeredness, coupled with the derogatory comment about “girls today….”?! It was nearly too much to handle…

Are you for real lady?!?!?!

It became crystal clear in a matter of seconds. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Her complete and utter lack of empathy and sensitivity not to mention the will for her son to take responsibility and accountability for his choices and decisions made it clear where Trent learned his lessons.

How sad is that?

Hubby felt like if anything, Trent’s mother put the nail in his parole possibility coffin. Who would release him to that?!??!

Trent’s Final Words

So after that lovely display of ineptitude, Trent got to have the last word. He talked about how he felt he had changed, that he would not re-offend, he had “earned” his parole, and that he was sorry hitting and killing Donna.

I never set out with the intention to hurt anyone…

Ahhh yes Trent. We know you didn’t mean to kill her. We know you didn’t intend to kill her. But ya did buddy….ya did!

Adjournment and Decision

We adjourned for about 10 minutes.

When we came back, one board member addressed Trent and said that they felt like he hadn’t accepted responsibility for his actions, that he was still very much centred and focused on himself. I am paraphrasing here but it went something like:

You never once talked about your victims. The women you assaulted or the family sitting here today and how your choices and decisions have affected and hurt them, you never mentioned them or talked about an understanding of what you’ve put them through. You are still focused only on you, you, you.

They told him they felt he had a high chance of re-offending and that he had a lot more work to do before he was ready for society!

The parole board came back with a big red DENIED stamp; for all 3 types of parole.

Uncle John started to clap. Hubby and I were fist pumping. We got hushed pretty heavily. Perhaps a bit insensitive but after that Shit Show, we couldn’t help it.

What Happens Now

So what happens to Trent now? Does he serve the remainder of his 3-year sentence? NO!

NO!??! No!

The parole board representative told us that he “could” reapply for parole but it’s unlikely. She said that there’d essentially have to be a second coming of Christ for him to get approval. Once denied, they usually don’t re-apply. Also, by the time he’d complete a few more programs and be ready to apply, he’d likely be close to his statutory release date.

STATUTORY RELEASE?!?!?!

Yes, you read that right.

In Canada, by law, most federal inmates are automatically released after serving 2/3rds of their sentence if they have not already been released on parole. This is called statutory release. It’s not the same as parole because the decision for release is not made by the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) however the PBC can impose conditions and restrictions to the release (curfew, halfway house etc). Although offenders serving life or indeterminate sentences are not eligible for statutory release.

Nice, eh?!

Now you’ll know in Canada when you hear someone sentenced to anything that is 2 years plus a day (meaning a federal jail sentence) the likelihood is they will never actually serve the full sentence in jail since they can apply for parole after serving 1/3rd and if not granted, are released after serving 2/3rds.

Trent’s Statutory Release date is April 14, 2013.

Which will be mine and hubby’s 3-year wedding anniversary. How quaint. Luckily, we will be in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic to celebrate and won’t let Trent ruin our day.

What Are We Left With?

Quite frankly, impaired driving causing death sentencing in Canada is inadequate to begin with. A sentence of 3 years for driving drunk and killing Mamma K and injuring the Dude will never be “enough” in our hearts. He should be serving a life sentence. Period.

That being said, it is what it is right now. And our family rests a little easier knowing that the man who killed Mamma K will at least serve the maximum amount of time that he could have.

We can live with that.

Going forward….we continue to mourn, heal and honor Mamma K. We keep fighting the good fight for stiffer penalties and more awareness and prevention. Ultimately, our dream is that someday we won’t need any of it because impaired driving will be eradicated entirely. It’s good to have a dream!

If you are still reading (God love ya….) thank you – for your support and your encouragement.

What do you think about offenders’ ability to apply for parole after only service 1/3rd of their sentence? What do you think about statutory release after serving only 2/3rd? Do you think our laws/policies should take into greater account the victims of crimes or sway more towards rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

On August 1, 2009, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

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Comments

  1. another informative, emotional post Natalie. there is no doubt the system is flawed. Judges can only give the maximum time in jail and then that is cut by no less than 1/3 for almost everyone! it is another crime, IMO. I suppose it’s either that or we start letting them out of jail because the jails are crowded or we can’t afford to house them anymore

  2. Unbelievable! This whole journey with you has been quite the education for the rest of us. Hugs!

    • We have definitely learned so much. I had absolutely no idea so I am thrilled and honored that I’ve been able to share what I’ve learned. I think if nothing else, we all have a much better sense of what victims go through and how our criminal justice system works.

      HUGS!

  3. Good grief, what a heart-wrenching process. I’m so glad he’s being made to serve out his ‘full’ sentence, but you’re right…three years seems like a small price to pay for what he’s done. He – and his momma – sound like real pieces of work.

    Loves ya, sweets.

    • It was. I am still in somewhat shock at him and his mother. A real piece of work – AMEN to that! Yeah, it’s a small price to pay…tks for your fab support…love ya too! 🙂

  4. I am so glad that his parole was denied. Clearly, this guy is totally focused on himself and not his victims. He deserves to spend more time in jail, but you get what you can get.

    In reading your account, what really annoyed the holy canoli out of me was the mother saying “We are a Christian family.” What??!!! As a Christian myself, I get SO irritated when someone completely misrepresents the faith like that–as if there is no personal accountability or compassion for those you’ve wronged. Crack open a Bible, lady! While Christians are supposed to practice forgiveness, we also supposed to practice honesty, confession, and JUSTICE.

    Okay, I’ve finished my rant. Bless you for standing up for truth, honoring your mother-in-law, and protecting those who might have been injured by this man if he had been freed. Obviously, it was not easy for you, but you did the right thing. Blessings!

    • I thought I was done. But did mom expect special treatment by saying that they are a Christian family? There is nothing in Christianity that says we get special treatment under the law. Judaism and Jesus himself only talked about fair treatment–you get what you get (deserve), and you don’t throw a fit. I think I’m done now. 😉

      • I think his Mom still believes that her son isn’t capable of everything he’s been convicted of and is the real victim in all of this. I think she played this “good Christian family” card in the hopes that the parole board would “realize” just that and be swayed to her way of thinking. AS IF?!?!?

        I completely agree, if anything Christianity believes in the utmost fairest treatment!!!

    • Julie, I hear you! I’ve had this “Christian” card played to me a time or two and it always leaves me a bit speechless. I am not a practising Christian but I know enough to know that faith, forgiveness, confession, honesty etc are at the foundation and root of Christianity. Being a good Christian doesn’t mean you are above the law, perfect, all knowing or incapable of wrong doing. It means that when you make a mistake, you take responsibility, you own it, and you are forgiven.

      I hate when people play it the way she did. Like it means they are somehow incapable of wrong doing. As if?!?!

      Yes, his focus is squarely on himself and I hope and pray for HIS sake that his eyes are opened because if they aren’t, he’ll only be released at some point to continue on with the same lifestyle.

      Thank you so much for your support and your blessings. And, I LOVED your rant!!! HUGS!!!

  5. I’ve interviewed a lot of addicts and alcoholics trying to get clean. They talked about their time in provincial (mostly) and federal jail a lot. None of them talked about the kind of jail you mention here. Interesting. Keep fighting the good fight.

    • Yeah, this is minimum security at its most minimum. LOL! I think the point is trying to give offenders basic life skills – managing a budget, household, working together, negotiating skills etc. And I get it. I believe in rehabilitation. But at the same time, it’s tough because these people all committed crimes – they choose their lifestyle so?!?!? It’s a tough one to call and come to terms with….

  6. awwww {{HUG}} There is simply no excuse for drunk driving. None at all. I had no idea how similar Canada was to US for prison/jail things. I’m sure there are stories everywhere, but that “statutory release” just feels so wrong. For my own story, my grandfather (whom I never got a chance to meet) was robbed at gunpoint for the payroll he was supposed to have on him. The bum demanded the money, and when my grandfather told him he didn’t have it, the bum shot and killed him. My grandfather had less than 50 cents on him. He was killed, for 50 cents. Left my mother and four other kids without a father. She was 6 years old. Did that man get life in jail? No. Did he get the death penalty? No. Did he get out of jail in a few short years? Yes. Why? He’d had a drink that day. Alcohol, it seems, can be a great excuse for murder. I believe he passed away a few years ago but he lived to be a ripe old age, running around as a free man. While my mother grew up without a father, and I grew up without a grandfather. It does make you wonder what the hell is wrong with the world.

    Thanks for the post, it’s fascinating to see how the guy got to be the way he is. His mother, obviously, taught him well. *shudder*

    • OMG Melinda. I am so touched by your story. Wow. For 50 freaking cents.

      You know, I often think about how many victims of other crimes (murder etc) have gone through a very similar experience as ours. Unfair sentencing, loopholes, early parole etc. And what about those whose perpetrator that are never caught? How do those victims come to terms with things and let go of the anger and pain?!?! I had no idea how it really felt until it happened to me, until I experienced it. It’s intense.

      It’s not fair. I don’t know how people like the man who killed your grandfather and Trent square up with themselves. Seriously?! How do you look in the mirror and think that “I’m sorry” is enough or that a few years in jail means you’ve paid your debt?!?!?

      If it were me…I’d be spending my life trying to make it right in what small, insignificant ways that I could…knowing it would never be enough but I would give my all trying!

      The system is so flawed. And I understand that situations aren’t always black and white and that the system needs to respond to various shades of gray but at the same time, I just think we can do better. Ya know?!

      And yes…Trent’s mother obviously taught him every single thing he knows. And that is the saddest truth of all because the likelihood for change is so minimal….

      Thanks so much for swinging by, sharing your story and commenting. It means a lot to me. And my deepest condolences for the loss and suffering your family has had to endure….xox

  7. Coleen Patrick says:

    My jaw dropped too reading what his mother said. You are so right about the apple not falling far. Insane. I am torn about rehabilitation and prisoners. I majored in criminal justice in college and I learned several times over that prison is not a deterrent and that rehab might be the best shot. It’s difficult to say. It sounds like he has a personality disorder in there too that might make rehab even more tough. Like Lisa said, Keep fighting the good fight! Hugs to you Natalie.

    • I know, I will never forget the words that came out of his mother’s mouth. Stunning.

      I hear ya Coleen. I did a double minor in criminology and sociology and I know that all the research done shows that stiffer penalties/prison is not a deterrent and actually perpetuates the cycle of criminality. Rehabilitation is the best chance for reintegration into society as a productive citizen.

      And until I went through it personally, I always believed in it. Now I struggle with the conflicting emotions within. I want him to pay! I want him to suffer like we’ve suffered! But at the same time, I know that won’t bring Mamma K back, it won’t change anything and will only lead us to more pain and hurt…

      I think if we HAD an appropriate rehabilitation program that combined prison-type restrictions with intense therapy, it might be easier as a victim to see an offender head in that direction but right now, there’s really nothing like that offered in our system. Jail isn’t really JAIL and recovery programs aren’t really rehabilitation….it’s like the shitty end of both sticks. 🙂

      Given the situation, as a victim we are left with wanting maximum jail sentences because at least it’s something. He took a life. He needs to pay in the only way we can impose. But…it also feels senseless because you know he’s going to come out no better, and quite likely worse, than when he went in so what is the point of that either?!?! He’ll just continue to hurt more people!?!?

      It’s so unfortunate because it’s a lose-lose system….

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and your support!! HUGS!!!!

      • Coleen Patrick says:

        To me it often feels like there is more leniency toward the offender–too much emphasis is put on the “accident” of it all. Especially worse considering he didn’t express remorse and could easily create chaos for another family. So frustrating–you sum it up best when you say the shitty end of both sticks. I am so glad you and your hubby have support! Thinking of you Natalie!!!

  8. My jaw is still dropped over the mother. And with all that pink and lace, I can’t get the image of Professor Umbrage out of my head! Also, I think that life is far too nice for prisoners. What the heck? There are tons of homeless who’d be so grateful for that sort of accommodation. That just seems wrong.

    Hugs for your emotional day. I’m glad his parole was denied.

    These posts and reminders about impaired driving are so important Natalie. Thank you for them!

    • OMG that visual is close!! LOL!!!
      I agree…it was definitely accommodations that homeless people would be grateful to have!!!! How sad is that?! Jail doesn’t always mean JAIL and there is something so “wrong” about it.
      The whole process has definitely been a huge eye-opener.
      Thanks for the hugs and the uber support Ginger. It means a lot to me…HUGS back!!!

  9. So many people today seem to be lacking in an understanding of accountability for the choices you make. Just because you didn’t intend to hurt someone doesn’t leave you guiltless. His mother goes to show the importance of parents instilling the idea of accountability into their kids. Yikes.

    Big hugs. Just reading this post made me emotional – I can’t imagine how your day was living it.

    [side rant: I love how she threw her Christianity out there. Even in Ancient Israel, there were laws that involved people taking action and making choices to avoid accidents. If you neglected to build a wall around your roof, for example, you could be responsible – and pay consequences – if someone else fell off. You were accountable for your carelessness. It’s biblical, lady. /rant]

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself Amber. Accountability. And it’s essential to teach our children. Absolutely. How does the song go “the road to hell is paved with good intentions…” No one has ever thought that Trent set out to kill Mamma K…never! But he did. His intent or lack thereof is a moot point. But it’s pretty obvious that he, nor his mother, have truly accepted the accountability of that choice! Had he not gotten drunk and drove, she’d be with us – period! It is that black and white…and “I’m sorry” doesn’t come close to cutting it.

      It was an emotional day…for sure…but I know we were all glad to be there.

      LOVE the rant and AMEN to that!!!!!

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and support Amber. Hugs!

  10. Karen McFarland says:

    Oh, boo hoo, “we have no one to help with yard work.” Are you kidding me? And then the mother puts the blame on girls today? Okay, that just tells you where most of this guys problems stem from. So happy to hear that the parole board denied his release. Yes, he gets the max prison term, if you want to call it a prison. And now you know why a lot people actually commit a crime here in the U.S. because they know they’ll be taken care of. There is no justice Natalie. It’s so sick. And Melinda’s story about her grandfather is horrendous. Unbelievable. Our thoughts have been with you and your family. You’ve been through so much. So glad it went well. Enjoy your weekend. You all deserve a peaceful one. 🙂

    • I know Karen, my jaw hit the floor! I think we were all stunned by her comments. But it did just go to show where he’d come from.
      Yes…the system is definitely not fair and justice is not served.
      Thanks so much for your love, support and comments Karen – it means a lot to us!!! Hope you have had a fab weekend as well!

  11. What an interesting look into the system. And that isn’t a prison, minimum or otherwise, that’s a halfway house. What a joke. Vehicular manslaughter, I believe is the charge here in the states, demands a cell with bars, with guards and guns, and restricted freedom.

    I do get the ripple effect of his family being victims too, but wow, just wow. I’m with you Natalie, I’d have been gripping my seat to prevent bitch slapping that woman. And I shudder because my ex-MIL was just like that.

    {{hugs}} to you guys. I’m sure it has been an emotional roller-coaster of a week for you.

    • Absolutely Raelyn – a halfway house. Another friend of mine said it looked more like a group home and that’s exactly how it felt to us. No “prison”, that’s for sure. I think the States have it right!
      SHUDDER – ex-MIL – that’d have been tough to live with. I can’t imagine.
      HUGS back darlin’! Thanks for your support and kind words!!!

  12. {hugs} to you, Natalie. That story gets my Irish up. I want to slap Trent’s mother and I cry for you, your husband, and his family. The injustice of the slap on the hand is stunning, but at least he wasn’t given parole. I’m nearly speechless, which is quite unusual. I hope you and yours can find some peace after this draining week.

    • I hear ya Elizabeth. I just about came out of my seat!!! So good to know that I am not alone in my frustration…
      Peace…absolutely!!
      Thank you so much for your support and comment!!

  13. Shannon Esposito says:

    Wow. I commend your self-control, Nat. What an awful thing to have to go through in the first place, a heart-wrenching loss and the man who caused that loss barely being punished. And then having his mother–the woman who was responsible for raising that irresponsible, selfish asswipe–tell you that she’s a victim, too?! UG….my blood pressure is up just reading that.

    My heart goes out to you and your family and this is one of the reasons I embrace the laws of karma! xoxo

  14. I don’t even know what to say, Natalie. The monster’s reaction is heartbreaking on so many levels . He seems not only criminal psychopathic, which, in my view demands lifelong keep-him-away-from-others. The prison system is so complex, in the U.S. too. Inmates rarely fulfill their sentences, often due to overcrowding and money issues. (Grr.) I wish we could send people like the monster who took beautiful Mama K’s life to some far off island where they could fend for themselves…disappear.

    Hugs and kudos to you and your family. You’re all incredible human beings to do all of this with such grace and love. At first, my heart hurt when I read the potential statutory release date. Then you made the real case clear. You and hubby are meant to enjoy that day. It’s yours and no one can take it. Mama K would want that, too.

    • Amen to the island…great idea! It does suck on all fronts because it’s a total lose-lose situation. No one wins, heals, comes back etc…and it sucks! Why can’t people all just get alone and be safe and good to each other?!?! It’s beyond me.
      We won’t give Trent any more of our lives that we must…that will be our anniversary date and we’ll do our best to make sure that is the center of our focus…always and forever! 🙂 You are right, Mamma K would have wanted it that way…
      HUGS and thank you for EVERYTHING! You are a treasured friend!!!

  15. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    What you and your family have gone through is heart breaking. I can’t believe he’s not in a cell behind bars. And that he’s going to be released so soon. And his mother! I could feel my blood pressure rising, my face burning with anger, when I read what she said. How cold hearted. Criminals in the U.S. get off way too easy in most cases, too. Just like poor Melinda’s grandfather. Unbelievable. I’m glad you’re fighting the good fight, Natalie. People like you are the ones who make a difference. God bless you all. I pray for peace in your lives.

    • Thank you so much Lynn for your comments and support. It is shocking once you go through something like this to realize the state of our justice system. Shocking. Simply shocking. And sad that there are so many stories similar to ours. It shouldn’t be that way but I guess in the end, all we can do is just to band together to make a difference where we can, right? We can’t let anger and hurt poison our lives. We must bond together over love and hope and continue to spread awareness so that less and less people ever have to experience what we have.
      HUGS!!!

  16. Just hugs.

  17. The part about his mother does speak to his raising. Wow. I think she and her pink lace Madonna gloves may need a wake-up call.

  18. prudencemacleod says:

    My god, girl, I sooo admire your restraint. I’d have clocked the woman and ended up with an assault charge. Poor her, nobody to mow the lawn, now there’s an injustice for ya. grrr

    My heart goes out to you folks, not only have you been robber of a part of your family, the spineless laws keep rubbing salt into the wound. Vehicular homicide should be a capital offence, and that is exactly what happened. He should have been charged with manslaughter at minimum.

    Sorry, *stepping down off soapbox* didn’t mean to rant.

    • HELL YES Prudence – love it! You come over and jump on that soapbox any time. I love it. It took a lot from all of us not to clock his mother. It’s just shocking to think there are people out there who think like that…so small minded and narrow. The constant victim with no sense of accountability or responsibility. Insane.
      It should absolutely be a capital offence. It doesn’t matter that a person didn’t intend to kill another. It’s not like it’s an accident. And I believe that ignorance should not discount the gravity of the situation. The person CHOOSE to get behind the wheel of a vehicle drunk. His lack of regard for the safety of others IS intent to kill. In my humble opinion.
      I hear ya…and agree completely!
      Thanks so much for the amazing support and comments. Always a welcome to read. 🙂

  19. You are amazing to share all of this with us, Natalie. I’ve never pretended to understand people or where they were coming from. This one, these people, take the cake. Thank you, Natalie, for this awareness lesson.

    • I hear ya Diana. They can get pretty hard to comprehend or relate to, that’s for sure. Thanks for stopping by, your support and the comment. It always helps to know we aren’t alone…hugs!

  20. Nat, I didn’t make it over here yesterday, but my jaw began and stayed WTF?!? dropped from you description of his accommodations through the whole circus.

    I know twelve steps isn’t the only way, but this guy didn’t once make a list of his shortcomings, his misdeeds, and attempt to make amends for them.

    He is no closer to recovery (and ready for society ) than I was when I was ready to live a “staid and saintly life” after church camp as a kid. (Where the accommodations were not nearly this nice.

    It did blow my mind when he made the psychologist responsible for his own signed Psych Eval.

    Again, “Vehicular Homicide” here in the U.S. And, it’s not a pretty prison.

    • Our jaw was pretty dropped for the entire thing Gloria. 🙂
      Yes, I don’t think he’s any closer to coming out and being a productive member of society than when he went in.
      Vehicular Homicide – absolutely that’s what it should be with no pretty prisons!!!
      Thanks again for all your incredible support!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Natalie Hartford and her family feel right now as they drag endlessly through the legal system. Read this – and perhaps send Natalie some of your support. If only Trent – the man who killed […]

  2. […] just sat in a parole board hearing wondering if the drunk driver that killed my mother-in-law would … in the not-really-a-jail jail, I don’t think I could have been as […]

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