If you came here to read something funny, to get a good recipe, to find a new tutorial or some new Etsy goodness, please come back again soon, today isn't that day. If you're ready to hear a Mothers rant, and are prepared to perhaps feel a little perplexed when you are done, then hang around.
I'm going to start off with this... I know that Public Defenders have a job to do and there are times when innocent people who are seeking justice get it because of them, but this isn't one of those stories and I am hoping that putting my thoughts and anger into words will lighten the turmoil I've been carrying around and help me close this chapter that has been going on for far too long.
On December 11th 2010 my then 13 y/o son and 3 friends (ages 12 and 13) went to our local mall, they all took something that portrayed them and were planning on getting a picture made with Santa. Ben had taken his skateboard. While the 4 of them ( 2 girls, 2 boys) were standing at their meet up point they were approached by an older man, long straggly hair and beard wreaking of alcohol. The first person he spoke to was Ben asking for his license and registration for his skateboard, Ben didn't think too much about it, and pretty much ignored him, he then went on to ask the kids their names, ages and what schools they went to, he stroked Ben on his arm and squeezed his shoulder, telling him to enjoy the pretty ladies now and that it wouldn't be so easy to get women when he got older, at that Ben told his friends to come on and he started to walk away, seconds later he heard one the girls yell "Ouch" as they all went to walk away this man grabbed one girl by her wrist and tried to pull her away with him, the other kids walked back towards them and with that the guy let go and started to walk away telling the kids "Merry Christmas, be careful what you wish for because you might just get it." Needless to say they were shaken up, pics with Santa never took place instead it was calls to parents to go pick them up and then later on phone calls and interviews with the Police. Ben was able to tell the Police of a very telling tattoo the man had on his arm that read 'Doug' and it was that tattoo that led to the arrest of the offender. Days later a Police Officer went to the kids school and had them look at pictures of long haired , long bearded men that had been in custody and try to ID the perp.
Fast forward to January and we received a subpoena, the defendant was being held and a court date was scheduled for the end of the month, that day came and we all went to court, all 4 kids and their parents, as we walked into the court room we noticed an older man keep eyeballing our kids from across the room, the kids became uncomfortable and told us "That's him, that's Doug." didn't matter that he was now clean shaven and had had a haircut, they knew it was him. As the kids anxiously awaited what was to come the attorney for the prosecution came up to us and told us that a jury trial had been requested, that we would receive a new date in the mail and that we could leave. The trial date was set for May 5th, we all showed up again, the states atty came out and told all of the kids that because of them a potential pedophile was going to be locked up that day, because of them our town had become a safer place. The Defendant was pleading guilty and was looking at spending anywhere from 5 - 15 years behind bars. The kids were told because he was pleading guilty they didn't have to testify and they could leave or they could go and see the justice system at work and see justice been served. They all chose not to go into that court room, not one of them wanted to see him ever again. We all left relieved and happy, and then 3 months later I heard a knock on my door it was a sheriffs deputy with another subpoena for Ben, the defendant had changed his mind and had asked for a continuance which was granted because the witnesses had left, the next court date for a jury trial was set for November, so off we all went again, we waited and waited and waited.... the defendant didn't show up and a bench warrant was put out for his arrest. He was arrested 2 weeks later and was locked up until the new trial date which was this past Monday. We all went back to court again, this time knowing there was going to be a trial, the kids were going to have to get up on the stand and speak replaying all that had happened that afternoon over 1 year ago.
We walked into the court room, there was the defendant, bald and clean shaven looking smug and eyeballing the kids again, the jury was selected, the kids were asked to leave the court room and the trial commenced.
Long story short the defendant walked away, able to go back to his old ways and do who knows what to other children. The jury was never shown the photos of the bruises on the one girls arm, the defense claimed they hadn't seen the photos and hadn't had time to prepare. The Defense atty showed the photo of the man the children had identified, the man with the long hair and beard asking how the children could possibly be 100% that that was his client, because the prosecution hadn't told the defense they were going to ask Ben to identify him via the tattoo that was disallowed, the defense atty was the same atty that was going to get up on the stand in May with his client and tell everyone his client was pleading guilty.... this atty KNOWS the man is guilty of this crime, this atty KNOWS this mans criminal record, he KNOWS the man spends more time in prison than out (Which at this point is a saving grace) The defendant never got up on the stand, he didn't have to say a word and he walked out of that court room a free man. At the end of the day there were 4 children left scared and wondering what they could have said or done differently to have changed the outcome, parents angry and pissed knowing their children lost an innocence at the mall that day that they can never claim back, that a man who is a nuisance to society and a very real threat to our children is out walking our streets and a defense atty who had done his job and I guess you could say he did it well, but what I don't understand is how someone who has just done everything he can to ensure his client can walk out of there a free man can possibly look at himself in the mirror and like what he sees, how can he sleep peacefully at night knowing that he allowed this man to walk away and prey on other innocent people, I just don't get it and these are the thoughts keeping me up at night. I don't know how we can protect our loved ones when the legal system has loop holes such as what we have here, loop holes in that a man who knows his client is guilty, is a danger to society, a very real threat to our children and yet he in order to do his job well has to pretend that his client is a man misunderstood and misidentified.
I just don't get it.
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