I hope that you are starting to create a visual image in your mind as to what was going on up until this time in April. According to the opening arguments of the DA, he wants you to believe that I was the ultimate party mom! If any of you know me, this is laughable. I remember back to a time when I was young and carefree. My uncle used to DJ at a local bar where I would go and dance on most weekends. I would go in, order a pitcher of beer because it was fairly cheap. People started commenting on why I even bothered to order it because it would sit on the table and get warm. I just never really drank it. I was still like that later; it just didn’t appeal to me. He also would want you to believe that we were sitting on the sofa, allowing these teens to walk in carrying cases of beer right past us. Can you imagine? They come walking in and just wave at us, “What’s up?” That just even sounds ridiculous. The problem again was that evidence we had tried to present was dismissed as rubbish. He didn’t want to allow us to explain that they were sneaking it in because when you aren’t allowed to do something that’s what you do. You sneak. You don’t hide it in window wells to sneak in later, or hide in backpacks to sneak in. If it’s allowed, you walk right past us waving with it thrown over your shoulder. That wasn’t happening and even every single one of them testified to that effect. That much I can say. Also, during this time one of the other boys ended up being involved in a separate incident of underage drinking. I have a copy of where it appeared on the magistrate’s docket. They were overheard talking about it during lunch one day and how this other mom provided the alcohol. Of course, they didn’t implicate her and somehow, she avoided any charges. This was on a recording that was obtained by someone sitting close by and given to me. I turned it over to the lawyer and a few other people listened to it because I was having a hard time deciphering what was being said. I don’t have a copy of the recording anymore, but it was turned over to the lawyer’s office. No one cared. Magically, a few weeks later the charges for this one teen disappeared. Like they never existed. He was one of the main one’s again testifying against me. One of the charges that was brought against me was “corruption of minors”. These minors were corrupt long before and after I ever met them, and if you ask anyone involved that knows me will tell you that they corrupted my son and almost destroyed by younger son emotionally. The lawyer tried to bring up how the charges for DG and CH disappeared and an objection was thrown out immediately. I think the majority of my trial was discussed sidebar. Something else that was brought up and just ticked me off was one of the mothers who we felt we were fairly close to got on the stand to explain how she came to our house once. She decided to talk about a 5-gallon jug of wine that was sitting on the counter. This mom and most people who were our friends, knew that at the time I was experimenting with making wine. Anyone who would ask, I would explain the process to them. This was not drinkable wine at this point and if you tried you would probably get sick or at least feel ill. Wine making is a process where you have to let it go through stages of settling and fermenting even before you can bottle it. This 5-gallon jug she was talking about was in the process of allowing sediment to fall so that it would become clear. There was one occasion when I was trying to lift this monstrosity on the counter when a friend of my sons (not involved in the case) asked if he could help me. When we lifted it, some splashed out and got on his shirt. I immediately called his mom and explained to her what happened. Her and I are still friendly to this day, she knew I was trying to be responsible by telling her. It was asked several times if when the guys came over if I would take their keys from them? No, I didn’t. I didn’t because they weren’t drinking to my knowledge. Remember, they were sneaking things in backpacks and into cellar windows because that’s what you do when you’re allowed apparently. (I’m being sarcastic). We later found out through a family member that during a family get together they had; they were informed that the one boy SH was purchasing alcohol with a fake ID. He was going to an establishment close to his house across in another county. We found out that kids from the school knew that if you went there with a certain amount of money that it was a signal to whoever was working to not ask for ID. I heard that from a few kids that knew he purchased there. This individual, SH was one time coming out of the beer place and was caught by a relative. The relative told his parents and nothing was really done. There was mention that they decided to put a tracker on his phone because they shared phone accounts. I asked several times about this phone tracker as well as the person that told me about it and it was ignored. I wanted them to subpoena records to see where they were that day and if they had stopped off after they left our home this one day. (I’ll get to that later). If you trust your kids, why do you put a tracker on them? If your family caught him, why wasn’t something done then to the stop the beer store from selling to minors? Why wasn’t something done to stop him then? We were told that he had stashes of booze hidden throughout the fields and different spots near his house. DG told us this when we were all still talking. Another reason we wanted to see gps and where they might have gone. We had kids telling our son that they used to ride to school with this boy to school and stopped because he’d drink on the way to school and on the way home sometimes. He would drive while playing on his phone, texting, snapchatting, drive with his knee. The parents all testified that they didn’t allow this and didn’t know it was happening. They lied under oath and lied to an officer, an officer of the court and a judge. We wanted to call people as witnesses to then cross examine these statements, my lawyer told me that we had to be careful to not appear too harsh with the families to the jury because it could backfire on us. WELL, WHAT ABOUT DEFENDING ME? Yes, it is all about me in this instance because it’s my freedom that was on the line. I saw a lady on twitter poking fun because it was all about me. I wonder what her feelings would be if she actually knew the other side? Unfortunately, most will never know. I mean does it matter at this point? I was convicted, I served 3.5 years. Time I will never get back. If only I had known some of these things before, maybe I could have prevented what happened in the next two months ahead.
I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday. It was my first holiday home in 3 years. I couldn’t help but to reflect on friends I had made while in prison. Many still there and not coming home any time soon. I prayed that they would receive the normal holiday food which was actually pretty decent. It consisted of 2 clam shell containers. One full of turkey, stuffing and another vegetable. The other was filled with a roll and pie. The chow hall has been closed since covid hit, so they most likely walked in freezing temps to get their food. The process probably started early, by maybe 10:30 am because of the amount of people that would actually go get a tray that day. The real festivities wouldn’t begin though until later when friends who planned for weeks made food with commissary purchases and used their tray food to make a bigger and better meal. We’d make cheesecakes, fishcakes, macaroni and cheese or pasta salads. That was where the good food was. The stuff that the inmates concocted. Everyone for the most part was considerate of the phones. We wanted everyone who could at least try to call home. My holiday was much different this year and I’m blessed for it. When you’ve seen the other side, you can’t help but to reflect back and pray that those inside will someday be able to enjoy a day with their loved ones too. I spent some of my time looking though the stack of paperwork I saved about my case. I didn’t find the actual calendar because I had given that to my lawyer hoping he’d use it in court. I did however have a paper where I wrote down the dates and activities that I had given to him prior to show that we weren’t home as often as the criminal complaint stated. Looking back over it, makes me even more angry because I knew that we were NOT hosting parties and letting teens run amuck like we were being portrayed to be doing. I can’t provide a photocopy of the calendar because it contains people’s names on it. I am not putting ANYONE’s name out there for confidentiality reasons and will only be using initials like I explained before. In December of 2014 we spent 2 weekends at our cabin, one we spent at a friend’s home having dinner, and for New Year’s Eve we went to a friend’s house and stayed to watch fireworks at midnight. In January of 2015 we all were back and forth to the doctors with pneumonia and bronchitis. We weren’t allowing any non-family members over because we didn’t want them getting sick. As soon as one of us would feel better, another would get it. February 2015, it was cabin, a weekend with family/friends, we went out to eat with friends, the cabin, went to another friend’s home, then the 28th of Feb. we had a game night at our house with a bunch of friends. March 2015, we were at the cabin, then the high school had a Tarzan play and the football players were volunteers, the weekend after that we took our youngest to a birthday party (in the evening), then we went to a friend’s wedding, the final weekend of March we were at a friend’s house for a game night there. April of 2015, we spent three weekends at the cabin. May of 2015, we spent the weekend of the 2nd at the cabin and the weekend of the 22-25 we were at the cabin (I remember this weekend because we had my in law’s up and my husband cut his hand trying to pry frozen burgers apart.) June of 2015, on the 6th my friend’s husband had a surprise birthday party for her and then from June 7-14th we were on a family cruise. So again, if you are generating your own log of evidence this is a lot of time that we weren’t around. I haven’t done enough digging to see, but at one time I had Facebook posts printed out to accompany these dates as proof. For now, I can only hope that you’ll take my word for it. The time after that dreaded weekend at the cabin with the picture and the friends of DG that are now imaginary to him, we did see the guys over at the house at times. I do recall them coming over after the Tarzan play. It wasn’t all of them, but the core group came over. I remember because we went to the play and left but the guys had to stay afterwards to help. I am pretty sure that we allowed DG to drive my son’s truck to take them up there and then drive back. During the times that we did allow them to stay, they would come in w/ backpacks or small duffle bags that we assumed contained their clothing to change. The DA thought in his world that we should have again been patting them down and doing a TSA check of baggage before they were allowed in the basement. Like they say in the police world, “we had no probable cause to search their belongings”. Apparently, there was a few times when they did bring beer into the house when Steve and I were there. How? Our son told us that what they would do is hide the beer in the window wells of the basement window’s. They would then wait for us to go to sleep and then pass the beer through the window so that we wouldn’t know. This was a very thought-out plan, and we had NO idea. The DA also questioned these other boys about what they did with the empties and that we had to have seen the trash laying around. Unfortunately, I nor my husband went down to continuously “check” on them. These were 16,17-year-old boys. We were too trusting to think that they wouldn’t do such a thing. I suppose in my mind at least that this wasn’t something that I would have done. I am going to speak for myself only since this is my blog, but I pictured them down there doing what we intended the basement to be. Play video games, pool, air hockey, foosball, watch tv, etc. We even have a photo that was used later of 3 of them laughing playing video games. The issue brought up by the DA was that he couldn’t imagine that we didn’t hear the amount of noise coming from the basement. This is a man who has NO children and must not have had a childhood that was spent at overnights with friends. If you’re a parent or as a child yourself that either allowed sleepover’s or attended them yourself, they aren’t quiet. it’s one of the reasons why many parents don’t allow them. Was it noisy? Yes, to a degree. We had some rules about the noise. They could play the stereo to a volume that we could still hear the tv upstairs. After 10:00 pm, the stereo and/or tv volumes had to be turned down because we were going to bed. Sometimes it was sooner than that if it started working on our nerves. I wish I had the amount of text messages or phone calls that I made to our older son to “turn it down!” April 2015 rolled around and here is where I made the biggest mistake of my life. My son came to me and asked if I would be willing to go buy them some beer. Right now, I have a hard time even telling you this because after I committed to saying yes and did it, I regretted it. Did I ask any of their parents if this was ok? No, I didn’t. It was extremely dumb, stupid and reckless on my part on every level. I was by this point aware that some of the other boys were drinking, however. Again, I along with their parents were friends with them on different social medial platforms. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There was a ton of photos being posted on Twitter and Instagram of them drinking at different places and we had started to hear through people that we knew that the one boy would host barn parties. We later found out that one time there was so many cars that the neighbor complained about them parking on his property. I asked my attorney to question this person, but I guess for whatever reason he didn’t feel it was necessary to show that other parents had allowed this to happen. I’m not trying to justify my actions, but if I’m guilty of this then let’s put all the cards on the table. I even remember telling one of my friends that I agreed to do this. She wasn’t happy and told me that I should not have agreed to this. I agreed with her, and it was actually the one and only time that I purchased for them. I admitted this right out of the gate during trial. I didn’t try to hide it or justify it. I couldn’t, there was a receipt because I ended up paying part cash and part debit card. Some asked how they knew it was me that bought it and that they didn’t take my card and use it? I said that I was sure they had me on video, and I wasn’t trying to be deceitful. I figured that I would fess up and tell the truth. This evidence didn’t come out until later, I’m only telling you now for reference to it later. After this happened, things slowed down a little. We were getting tired of the noise that was occurring and I was tired of them wanting to always be at our house. One morning, our oldest sone came in our room to wake us up. It was urgent, we had to get up now! I said what is going on? He told us that DG came in the middle of the night banging on his bedroom window asking to be let in that the police were looking for him. I said Well why is he here and where is his parents? I was told that his mom was on the way over. When we got up, his mom was in fact there and he was sitting in her van. He was beat up pretty good and had black eyes and look horrible. He had been at a drinking party the night before, along with some of the other guys that our son hung out with. Apparently, an altercation took place there and a fight ensued. Later, charges were brought against DG, and I believe a few others. At the time when questioning started regarding my arrest, DG changed his story about 3 times. He also had these charges mysteriously disappear from his record. It was brough up during my trial briefly along with some other questions about an expensive airline ticket that was purchased for his sister to fly home from S. Dakota by one of the moms involved in my case. Yes, we found out later she was bribing witnesses. She purchased expensive watches and helped pay for graduation parties for them. It was brushed under the rug by the DA that they were doing this out of grief. I’m confused how witnesses were allowed to hang out and exchange testimonies and stories during a trial. However, much of this also took place within that almost 2-year period they waited to file charges. There was occasion when my neighbor’s daughter and her friend would come over and hang out with the guys. There was one instance that I recall sitting on the sofa and DG walks in. He comes in and there are like 3-4 girls with him. I said what’s going on. He has this smug look on his face, and I guess he thought I was going to be ok with him just showing up with guests of his own. I called my son upstairs and told him that they have to leave NOW! I also told DG that he can’t just show up whenever he wants and bring girls to my house. That wasn’t happening. This was about the time when we started making the rule that no one could just “show up” anymore. It was getting to be too much. At first it wasn’t bad because they would stop by, and it was occasional. It was clearly now becoming a habit and we didn’t like it. My husband and I were having conversations with our son that this, “had to stop”. We were tired of his friends showing up whenever without calling, now they were starting to try to bring people around that we didn’t know. So, then we noticed that they would now call to come pick up our son and then they would leave to go to either NA’s grandpa’s house or there was another group of friends that lived in the development across the street. I don’t know if they were telling their parents that they were coming to our house, then leaving to go to these other places. I knew that my son asked and where he was according to what he told me. What these other kids told their parents wasn’t my problem. It later became my problem however after they all wanted to deny any knowledge and make me the scapegoat. They all seemed to forget about the drunken fight and police charges against DG, they seemed to forget the time they were at NA’s grandpas, and he caught them drinking and called NA’s mom to come get them. I mean, I didn’t get a call that night telling me that my son was caught drinking at her father’s house. I’m sure none of the other parents were called either. Why? Because I’m sure she did what I did the first time I caught them. She probably gave them a talking to and said she wouldn’t say anything if it wouldn’t happen again. I don’t know for sure if that happened, but at this point I can only imagine. So how many other times where they caught and none of us did anything? All of us as parents, gave them grace and thought we handled it by talking to them and asking them to not do it again. So was I the only one, because it seems to me that a lot was happening, but no one was saying anything. I hear crickets…..
I had a very hard time sleeping last night. I didn’t realize how hard this was going to be for me to tell until I started telling it. I had been able to tuck all these little details away for almost 4 years and now bringing them back to the surface is triggering. I want to go back and fill in some gaps and to do a recap up to this point in the story. Again, all of this started the end of December 2014. This was what the police stated was when I we started allowing my son’s friends to come over on a “regular basis”. This entire timeline runs from December 24, 2014, to June 16, 2015, according to the complaint. That’s approximately 24 weekends. Out of those 24 weekends, depending on who you asked and when you asked, when questioned by the police, the DA and my lawyer during hearings, or how many times they wanted to change their answer for whom it suited. They stated that out of those 24 weekends that they came to our house maybe 6,7,8 times. Would you say then that the average of 7 times is a lot? (This includes the trip to the cabin). I’m going to shorten those 7 days down even further for you, something that I was unable to do since I didn’t testify, and therefore I’m not sure why my lawyer didn’t or wasn’t able to show this evidence during his questioning. I went back through my Facebook at the time and my pocket calendar. I have to go through the items that I saved (I have an entire one side of my desk full of evidence, paperwork, etc. regarding my case.) Out of these 7 or 8 days, I was able to trim that down even further to the number of times that my husband or I were home. I know that I have it written down if anyone wants an exact number, but for conversation purposes here, I’m going to say it was 3-4. The other times, I had posts on Facebook that I was either tagged in or tagged others as being in Baltimore with friends or a few times we took a trip up the cabin with our younger son. Last time I checked, you can’t be 2 places at once as much as sometimes we wish we could be. There was so much stuff that came out during trial that I found out sitting at the defense table that I had NO idea about. You think you know your kids; you think you have control over situations and well, that “I trust you until you give me a reason” philosophy went way out the window. What we found out was that when we would go to our cabin with our younger son, my oldest would finagle his way to stay home. My mom told me this was not a good idea, but I was trying to be trusting and explained how he was working, and how we had asked our neighbors to keep an eye on the house for cars or anything suspicious. Remember all of that? Yeah, boy was I wrong! I don’t know if I want to say here that he was having his friends over without permission or if I want to say that they bamboozled him into having them over. Again, if you recall before I brought up the dynamics of age and rank according to him being in the varsity football team and only being in 10th grade. Another item that we had in my discovery was a slew of text messages to my son from these boys in a group chat. One of the chats went something to the effect of, “We’re coming over”. To which my son replied, “You aren’t allowed, my mom said that no one is allowed over when they aren’t home.” To which NM replied, “I called your mom, and she said it was ok”. My son, “no you didn’t!”. NM said, “Nah, but we can just park somewhere else and sneak in the back and no one will know we were there”. So, whether they actually came this night, I’m not sure but they did on several other occasions. Again, I have these text messages, but kept being told that certain items we couldn’t present because of it being heresy or I don’t know but it was frustrating for me to sit there and be unable to defend myself with clear cut evidence that I possessed. The things that were taking place during these times when they unwelcomely entered our home was shocking. I’m confused how the DA could bring all of this into play and display it for the jury and all to see but yet I was unable to counter it showing that they came into the home uninvited, peer pressuring my son to let them in. This is one of the points when I feel that I just had a crappy lawyer! I want to tell you the good, the bad and ugly. I want to be 100% honest with you because I want you to understand how the DA and the police drew their conclusion to file these charges. (The beginning was the damn photo from the cabin, and the lies told by DG that the friends of his didn’t exist and they brought a tote of beer to the cabin in the back of the truck that I helped them pack-HUH? yeah, that part never happened but in his world it did). Prior to all of this taking place at the cabin, I recall a morning when I was sitting in our living room watching tv. The guys had just spent the night and were sleeping in the basement. My youngest son was the informant. He would go down there and come up and report to us what was happening. I think it was mostly because he wasn’t “allowed” down there according to my oldest. You know how it is, younger siblings are pains and embarrassing. This morning in particular, he comes up and reports to me that there is an open can of beer sitting downstairs. WHAT! I told him to go downstairs and wake them all up and to get their asses upstairs pronto! I can’t recall exactly who all was there this particular day. I know for sure that it was DG, my son and CH. They all come upstairs, scared to death and I started the line of questioning. Where it came from, who brought it, is there more…. DG fessed up and said that it was only 1 can (a pounder), that he stole from his house and brought over for them to share. They wanted to taste it and see what it was like. I said it tastes like shit doesn’t it! Should I have called their parents at this point? Looking back on everything and if I knew then what I know now, I would have most definitely called them. Instead, I gave them a talking to about it, told them that this was not acceptable and that I wasn’t happy about them bringing it into our home. I was mad! We did confirm that it was only 1 and of that can less than half had been consumed. We dumped it and threw it away. I told them that I would not discuss this with their parents if they promised they would never try something like this again. Thinking back to some of the dumb stuff you did as a kid, I think that you can understand why I chose this route. As a parent and again knowing what I know now, I’m angry that me then didn’t tell them. The real question though is, “would it have made a difference?” I don’t think so and I’ll tell you why. Along with them coming to our home the few times I was aware of, along with the other times we were unaware, these boys were doing this at up to 12-13 other locations. I was floored when my lawyer did bring this up during the trial. What were the locations you ask? They included a room above a store that one of their friend’s parents or grandparents owned, the basement of one of the other boys (a photo was shone to the mom, and she said she didn’t know-I guess it was ok for her to not know but not ok for me to not know. Also, this was only one photo that we had-how many other times?). There were going to some parks or outdoor areas. It was clear that this was something they did on a regular basis. What I wasn’t aware of was they were documenting their shenanigans on snapchat. I am not on snapchat, I’ve tried it and don’t understand it and chose not to use it to this day. It still seems to be a big social media outlet for the younger generation. My sons still use it. I don’t know if these other boys’ parents were friends with them on this platform. How many people that were friends with them on this platform saw their posts and said/did nothing? Again, the silence is deafening.
We put a lot of time, love, blood, sweat, tears and money into our cabin. It was something that we wanted to hopefully be able to treasure, make memories and pass down. Proverbs 19:21 tells us: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” I still pause to think that any of this was “his plan”, but I was able to grow my faith, share it with others and still share his word with others because of it. Perhaps, that was the plan all along. I just wish the stuff in between never had to happen. The evening when we all returned to the cabin after eating at the pizza shop, the kids wanted to build a campfire. It was Friday night and my husband, and I were tired from working all day. We built the fire, sat around for a little bit then my husband and I and our younger son decided to turn in. There wasn’t much that we felt the guys could get into because we were essentially in the middle of nowhere. They were old enough to be able to sit by a campfire alone and be responsible enough for it. At one point, my son came inside to ask if they could take a walk up the lane. I said that I guess it would be ok, but not to bother anyone else and to stay on the lane. They came back and said that apparently, they started talking to a group of people that were outside their camp. Here the one boy DG knew them, and they were friends of his family. How odd was that? They asked if it would be ok if they went back to their camp and sat around the fire with them. I said that if it was ok with them then it was ok with me. I asked if they would be back before 11ish and to make sure they went to bed and didn’t go anywhere else. (This is an interesting fact, because during my trial DG lied on the stand stating that they never met anyone and that he didn’t know them. This was just one of the first of many lies we caught him in). We later found out that while they were at this camp, the people there allowed them to drink. I’m not sure who drank, how much they drank, and if it was just beer or alcohol, etc. but they drank. I didn’t find this fact out until it appeared in my discovery packet along with the dumb decision to take that photo at the pizza shop. When everyone woke up the following morning, I had no clue that they were drinking the night before. I only knew that they went to visit friends of DG that they ran into at another camp close to ours. I was aware that CS woke up that morning sick on his stomach. I was told by my son that CS was vomiting and felt sick, but they thought maybe it was something they ate the night before. No one else was sick or looked hungover. The discovery also stated that the case of beer that was purchased at the pizza shop was what these boys drank that evening. That I bought it and provided it to them. (This was not true, but I had a group of kids at this point that I don’t know if they felt pressured by the DA to respond this way or if they were offered some leniency later to respond like this. I will never know. I will get the point later on what leniency I’m referring to). I don’t know if you want to be an armchair lawyer or not, but if you’re keeping notes on all of this, you’ll see why many people were frustrated by what happened in this case and why they get so frustrated at other cases too. I can play devil’s advocate here and say that I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, but hindsight is 20/20. How many parents allow or bring their kid’s friends along on vacations, or if you own a vacation home, allow them to come along? How many times have you been out with friends, at home, or someplace where alcohol was served, snapping photos? So, if you are out to eat and snap a photo and a beer happens to be sitting in front of your child, must we assume they were drinking? Of course not! Should I have allowed my son to carry that case of beer for me and then stupidly took a photo? NO! I also never thought that anyone would be dumb enough to think that I bought it for them, then said, “let’s commemorate the event for all to see”. Of course, let’s not forget that I posted this photo on Facebook at the time. I also was friends with all of these boys’ parents on Facebook at the time. I tagged them all in the photo. Did anyone object, question it or complain or take issue with it at the time? No! So, it’s not like I took the photo and then hid the fact. I’m confused then later how everyone acted like “they didn’t know” or “that it was shock”. Again, I’m not defending my actions, I’m just stating that you can’t acknowledge the post, like it and react to it, then tell the DA that you couldn’t believe this or that I did this, etc. If at this point, you had questions or concerns about what your child was doing, then why was I not asked at this point? I will tell you, because there was no concern. Am I the only confused at this point? (NOTE: none of this was made aware to us until almost 2 years later when the charges were filed, so up to this point again, no one brought any issues or concerns to our attention regarding this event or any event prior to this). After this trip to the cabin, we never saw CS again. It was after this that we were told about his possession and use of marijuana. We later started seeing him posting on snapchat where he was in possession of large amounts of it (more than personal consumption), and also using it. The DA, police and no one else found any concerns regarding this. His parents were friends with him on his social media and took no action or concern about these posts. So again, I was confused how they were blind to this but later decided to treat us like we were deplorable, stating “they didn’t know” or did they know and decide to not say anything? So, if that’s the case, all who knew or suspected and didn’t say anything then-are you not just as guilty? Because silence is just as loud.
So according to my discovery packet, the police claim that they based their investigation to starting in December 2014. That this was where things started to go sideways. I have to disagree, as well as many others who know us personally and some casually. Moving into our new home, my husband decided that he wanted to fill our basement with all the things that most men want to fill their basement with. Our basement was the entire width and length of our house, including the garage, which is usual. The first item he decided to purchase was a pool table. I remember this day like it was yesterday. He found the table on craigslist, talked to the person on the phone, and looked at several photos. The pool table was used, but it was in great condition. The folks selling it were moving and needed it gone. I can’t recall the exact price we paid, but we also then hired a pool table mover to go get it. We never saw the table in person but relied on the professional mover we hired to give us his honest opinion. He arrived and said that the table was in great shape, and he would be able to move it with no problems. We sent the owners of the table and the mover payment via Pay Pal. I never knew what went into moving a table like this, but the task was tedious. It was a slate top table that had to be disassembled, carefully packed and then was moved from Maryland to our home in Pennsylvania. The mover told my husband that it would be several hours for him to break the table down, pack it and then drive to our house and have it reassembled. He wasn’t kidding. This process took from early one afternoon and he never completed setting it up in our home until 4am the next day. I think my husband ended up calling off work because he wasn’t expecting it to take that long. Once it was set up and completed, it sat in the middle of our basement for everyone to admire like the leg lamp in The Christmas Story movie. The kids were given instructions on the felt top and the slate under it. It was “FRAGILE”. We didn’t want to put in the expense yet of carpet and drywall in the basement yet because when we bought the home there was some dampness issues that cost us a pretty penny to fix. We had to have a French drain put in, extra sump pump and have the grading around the house redone. Once that was completed, we were assured that the dampness and water issues were resolved. (Which we found to be true). Rather than risk it though, we decided to paint the floor and put those paint chip flecks down. We painted the cinder block walls and put an area rug down to make it cozy. We had no plans to proceed any further than that because there was no egress out of the basement. So, any additional construction was tabled. We would use it “as is” and enjoy it for what it was. We decided to allow this to be a space where my sons could go and hang out with their friends rather than hanging out in their bedrooms. The house we had was a rancher, and the only good place for them to gather was in the basement. It just wasn’t a great idea for them to have friends in their rooms because the rooms weren’t super big and also to me, they were “private” spaces. There is an age difference of just about 5 years between our oldest and youngest. They had a shared bathroom, and it just didn’t seem far for one or other to have to put up with someone else’s friends encroaching on their private space. My kids both were already huge Xbox fans, so my husband then decided to buy a big tv to keep in the basement to not only watch movies, but to play their games on. We didn’t run cable down there, but it was available for streaming movies and at that time we were still using DVD players. Streaming was just starting to get big and Netflix coming into play. This area was going to be a place where all of us could potentially enjoy just hanging out and relaxing. I have a big family and was hoping to be able to have my family over for gatherings where we could all sit comfortably in one room. Unfortunately, that never happened. We also, decided to set up a stereo system down there, a workout area. My son was working out on a regular basis because of football, as well as some of his football buddies. We had good intentions of also starting to work out, but the only exercise we got was buying the equipment and having it set up. Like most equipment, it sat in the basement and just “looked good”. During these winter months, it was cold, it was starting to snow, and the roads were getting icy at night. The slightest bit of moisture during the day, then turned into black ice once the sun went down. I can’t recall if I mentioned this before, but the area that we lived in was rural. Most of the friends that our son had lived on back roads and even to drive from their house to the school on a good day could take 20-30 mins. This was depending on how far down into the far reaches of the school district that you lived. I never realized how far some of the houses were in the district until we started dropping off and picking up our kids and their friends to their respective houses. We lived in a district that tended to offer 1–2-hour delays regularly because of the back road conditions and the fact that many would drift closed if the wind blew the right way after a storm. There were a few times when they guys would stop over to see our older son and it would start to snow. I recall one of the first times this happened, I was NOT comfortable with them trying to drive home. These were all kids that I considered to be decent drivers but had not yet driven in the ice or snow. I remember asking them to call their parents to see if it was ok if they stayed and headed out the following morning when it wasn’t icy. We had plenty of room for them to all sleep in the basement. We had sofas, and the floor. There was plenty to do, and I knew they wouldn’t be driving in the dark on icy roads. Some of the friends weren’t able to stay because it was wrestling season. There were if I recall, at least 2 friends that wrestled on a regular basis. They were wrestling with the Senior High now and therefore traveling to schools’ way outside our district to matches. For some of the matches, they would even go further outside the area to wrestle kids throughout the state depending on how far the school made it. I remember asking my son at one point about certain friends because I hadn’t seen them around lately. He had told me that (I’m going to use initials) DG and CS were wresting and unable to come over to hang out. When I say hangout, that didn’t mean spending the night always either. These friends would stop in to say hi to our son, they would stop in to see if he’d want to go with them to other places. So, by asking about them it was just because I hadn’t seen them at all and wanted to know if they were ok. You know how kids get mad at someone and stop talking so I was curious to see if something like that had occurred. Eventually, he told me that they stopped hanging out with CS. I said, “why?” He told me that he and the guys found out that CS was using pot and wanted nothing to do with him. They didn’t want their names being associated with him because of football. They had strict rules about codes of conduct, etc. and so by CS smoking, or whatever else he was doing with weed they didn’t want any parts of it. This made us very proud as his parents that they made this decision. I noticed that this kid no longer really played on the team, and I guess decided to strictly stick to wrestling. I’m not sure, because once he stopped coming around, he was no longer on my radar. I also had asked about another friends SH, and why I didn’t see too much of him. My son explained it to me this way, “SH has seasonal friends. When he plays baseball, he has baseball friends. When he wrestles, he has wrestling friends. When he plays football, he has football friends. I guess he doesn’t want to hang out with us when those other sports are going on”. I figured, if he was ok with it what could I say about it. I personally don’t care for rainy day friends. There did seem to be a core group of friends that he hung out with. They were SH, NM, NA, CH and DG. Anyone else, I couldn’t tell you who they were and if they stopped by it was once and not memorable. You know how you see maybe a friend of your kids once and then might never see them again. I figured maybe my kid decided they weren’t the kind of person they wanted to be friends with, maybe they were ok to hang out with in school and that was it. I didn’t ask. You can’t possibly know every person that your kid associates with. I can see if they are coming over to your house or if your kid was asking to spend the night there. If that wasn’t happening, then how would I know anything about them. Also, them spending one time at the house didn’t put them on our radar to ask why they never returned. I hope that doesn’t sound callus but once you don’t just think about. The kid I asked about was coming often, I had met his parents at football banquets and noticed when I didn’t see him again. We weren’t friends with that kids’ parents, and the extend of our conversations were if they ever dropped him off or if we would see them at games. Most of us were Facebook friends, to be able to share football posts and that sort of thing. Before CS stopped coming around though, we did decide to take the boys all to the cabin. I can’t recall the exact time when we took all of them, but I know that there was a time when you couldn’t even reach the cabin because the mud and muck was so bad that the road was impassable. We thought if we could convince our older son to come back to the cabin again that he’d change his mind and want to start coming with us again. We wanted him to see that we installed the internet now, there was a phone. We installed a TV antenna and was getting almost 30 channels not including the Roku to stream. We were still having the handymen up there doing some work for us. We were in the process of looking into replacing the roof to a metal one so it would no longer rot. One of the other silly but necessary tasks that these guys would do for us was they would refill our water tanks. There was no running water at the cabin. They had built these water holding tanks for us. One was to use at the shower, and one was to use at the sink in the kitchen. They would pump water into a tank they had on their trucks and then empty it by repumping it into our tank to fill them. The cost for this service? A case of beer or bottom shelf vodka. (I’m not joking). My husband and I weren’t (and still aren’t) big drinkers. We kept a small supply of wine cooler type drinks, a few beers and that was about it on hand in the fridge. There was even a time when my husband said to me about stopping this because it seemed to him that friends that we were having come stay were drinking it more than we were. He didn’t mean that to be ignorant, but it wasn’t benefiting us to buy it and keep it there. The beer that was there we ended up telling our handymen to take with them the next time they let themselves in to do work. Eventually there was some remaining cans that I gave to our one friend who went up to do some clean out after the crap hit the fan. We weren’t allowed to have any alcohol once we ended up on probation. My one friend and her husband went up because they lived relatively close to get that and some food we had up there. Back to having the guys to the cabin, I remember the day that we left and were packing up the vehicles for the trip up there. We loaded my car, which ended up not having a ton of room. We had our 2 dogs, my husbands, my youngest sons and my clothing, bedding, food, and dog food. We had bought my older son a truck because he was in the process of getting his license. He couldn’t drive but we allowed his friend DG to drive the truck that weekend. It was DG, our son, CH, CS and I think that was it. SH, NM, and NA couldn’t go because they had other plans with family, etc. CS going along, I’m pretty sure was before we knew about him playing Cheech and Chong. They guys loaded the bed of the truck up with their stuff. I told them to put the stuff in trash bags or totes in case it rained since the truck didn’t have a cap on it. I didn’t go through their stuff and inventory it before it was loaded. If you’re a parent or say that you would have, I call BS. That’s not something normal people do. What reason did I have to inventory their belongings? When we got to the cabin that Friday night, it was customary for us to go to a local pizza joint. To this day, we love this place. The food is delicious, and the prices are reasonable. We all went and ate at the restaurant. Before we left, I told my husband that we needed to pick up a case of beer for the handymen because they filled the water tanks for us. I preferred to get the beer because the closest liquor store wasn’t close at all. I also, didn’t want to be driving from our house there with booze. Here’s the first area where I messed up! We were leaving the restaurant and my husband was using the restroom before we left. (We owned an outhouse, so he wanted to go before we got back). I have bad knees and problems with my hip. I’ve mentioned this a few times in my posts. When I was walking out, I made the mistake of not only asking my older son to carry the case of beer but then we decided to take a quick picture of everyone outside the restaurant. It was one of those, “hurry up and get over here, I winna take a pic of all of you”. Well, they were belly aching about hurrying up and by this time my husband comes out and jumps in the back of the pic. My son was still holding the case of beer. Who would have thought that this would come back to haunt me?
Am I ready to tell me story? I’m not sure. I have seen a few things that keep popping up that say, “It’s time to tell your story”. I’m not sure if that’s from the Lord, if it’s Satan trying to steer me the wrong way. I want to do this in the Lord’s timing and not mine. So, I am going to start with some background to put all of this into context later. Growing up, my husband’s parents were super strict. My parents, on the other hand were strict but not overly strict. My mom will tell you that they didn’t have to be because my sister’s and I really didn’t cause them a lot of problems. Were we saints? Absolutely not! When, my husband and I finally had kids, we wanted them to be able to have friends over, go to friends’ homes, and have some fun without us being helicopter parents. From the time that our boys were little, I told them, “I trust you until you give me a reason to not trust you.”. We felt that was a pretty fair statement. I also told them that just because we don’t see you doing something, doesn’t mean I can’t see you. (Meaning that other people will see you and tell us). My older son found this out one day when he asked in advance if he could walk to a corner store after school with friends. I told him that he could because the store wasn’t that far. Later that day, his one elementary school teacher messaged me asking if Stephen was walking on a certain road earlier in the day. She asked because she thought it was him and couldn’t believe how tall he’d gotten. I told her yes; it was probably him that he asked if he could walk to this store after school. I told him later that day and said, “see, if you wouldn’t have told me what would have happened!”. So again, I never to this point had any reason to think that he was doing things he shouldn’t have been. I wasn’t naive either to think that he wouldn’t. I just had to trust in the process “trust until you give me a reason not to”. When we lived in our first house, the kids seemed to like to congregate near our yard. I later found out that it was because the electrical box was home base for many games. Steve and I weren’t sure we liked them all coming around so much, but my mother-in-law (the strict one) told my husband that maybe this wasn’t so bad. This way we could keep an eye on things and know what they were up to. We knew the parents of these kids because they were our neighbors. Many times, we’d stop outside and chat with them. Some, we are still friends with to this day. Eventually, we moved away from this home and into our first official bigger home, bigger yard. There weren’t really any kids in this new development. The ones that were there, were younger than my oldest and my youngest son was able to play with one boy next door. Also, by this time my older son was finishing up 5th grade and starting to go into middle school. I already explained how quickly he seemed to move up in football. During this time, both boys were playing football. As parents, we were running to games and practices almost every day. We knew most of the parents on the youth teams and the middle school teams. We also knew most of the coaching staff. Everyone that got to know us, knew that our world revolved around our kids. Many things in our careers were changing by this time as well. Both of us were at the peak of our careers, making probably the most we ever had. We were living in the house to go with it, and our social circles were changing. We were able to afford nicer things, we were going on nice vacations, and the kids didn’t want for much. One of the things that my husband and I talked about wanting was a cabin. It was just something that we both always wanted and now seemed like the time to do it. We weren’t sure where we wanted it, or exactly what it was we were looking for. We knew we’d know when we saw it. I liked this area that was about 45 minutes outside of Gettysburg. It was close enough to our home, so we could leave after work and be there rather quickly. It was far enough away, that we felt like we were actually going somewhere. The area is surrounded by beautiful apple orchards, mountains, plenty of fresh air, and there were 2 lakes with beaches close by to relax and just enjoy the day. After some time, my husband ended up finding a cabin on craigslist. Him and I went alone that day to go see it. The lady I believe was asking $13,000 for it. The land was leased, so we wouldn’t own the land. The cabin would be ours and we could do whatever we wanted with it. When we pulled up, the place was so overgrown, the weeds were about waist deep. You could see the potential, but you had to squint to see it lol. The cabin itself wasn’t small. It was about 1300 square feet, with a loft. She was leaving everything. That was good and bad because that meant that we had to then figure out a way to toss what we didn’t want to keep. (That ended up being a lot). The cabin needed a lot of TLC from sitting and not being properly maintained. The gutters fell off, causing a leak in the back of the cabin to then rot through part of the roof and wall. It needed painted, gutted, the back room where the wall/roof was falling apart needed totally renovated. It was a project, and we aren’t handy people. My husband took a leap of faith and offered the lady on the spot $8,000. He told her, this needs a LOT of work. We have no idea to what extent, other than what we can see. He explained to her that he was going to have to get some help, buy materials. Shockingly, she accepted. I think she knew that it was bad, and that she wasn’t going to get many other offers. We spent the next several months (by this time my oldest son was close to 16) going back and forth, meeting friends, family to just empty the place out. We met some local guys that lived up there who was kind enough to mow and landscape the yard back to its original glory. They were the kind of guys that didn’t charge you much, wouldn’t take more if you tried to offer it and on occasions asked us to pick up a case of beer or bottom shelf vodka. Sounds strange, but that’s what they wanted. After some time, they became our primary handymen. It worked for us because they did great work, were cheap and they lived close by and could work when we weren’t around. This then gave us time to come up almost every weekend to check on the progress. We were able to start staying at the cabin after a few months, and to our disappointment our oldest son hated it. He hated it because there was no internet, because there was no tv, nothing to do, whine, whine, whine. He ended up getting a part-time job with one of the football parents who owned a bounce house business. He worked almost every weekend. This required us to sometimes get up and drive him to their warehouse before 5am to meet another worker who would then drive them to the job. This started to then infringe on us being able to go to the cabin and check on the progress of work we were paying to have done. A few times we would drive up after dropping him off, then turn around and come back the same day. His friends were starting to drive, and as I explained before, many of his teammates were older than he was. I wasn’t crazy about another teen driving him, but I had seen a few of them drive and felt that they were safe. He had started to ask one or two of his buddies if they could pick him up so that we didn’t have to come back so early. I told him, “I didn’t want anyone in the house when we were gone”. I told him that I wanted them to go to that person’s house, he could be dropped off and they leave but I didn’t want people in the house when we weren’t home. He would normally call or text us to let us know what his plans would be. Most of the time, he would tell me that he was going to his one friends grandpa’s house to spend the night. That sounded fine with us and trusted that was what was taking place. I also was friends with a few of our neighbors. I had asked if some of them would keep an eye on our house because we were away. If, our older son was supposed to be at a friend’s house, I let them know this and asked that if they saw any unusual cars around to please let me know. At first, we didn’t have internet or phone at our cabin. Eventually, we figured out that this was a requirement since our son wasn’t going to want to come along. A few times my one neighbor had texted me about a car she saw in the driveway. Those times, I knew that we had given permission for one friend to stay with him. ONE friend. The parents knew we weren’t there, and they knew that if they had any problems to call this boy’s parents. The parents had our numbers, the cabin number, and our son knew they could always ask the neighbors for help if they needed it. We were fairly close to most of the neighbors by this point. We had been to most of their homes for cookouts, get together, and knew what kind of people we were. Our one neighbor was a police officer. So, we also felt that our son was smart enough to know that he could see anything going on. (That wasn’t his responsibility. I had asked as a friend if they would keep an eye on the house, etc. when I knew we would be away). We felt that we were doing everything necessary to prevent something from happening. The rules were in place that no one was allowed there if we weren’t home, if someone was there, it was one person and this kids parents knew we weren’t there. I contacted the neighbors, asking for their help if anything looked suspicious, and my in-laws didn’t live far away if they needed them until we could get home. We also had many other friends at this point who grew to be more like family that our son knew he could call if he needed to. Let us not forget that by this time we were buying into the “FAMILY” mantra through football. Later, I would realize that allowing him to stay home, thinking we were doing the right things, would be one of the biggest mistakes that we made.
So how often does this actually happen; and how honest is everyone when it comes to having such evidence? How many times has police or prosecutors waited until the 11th hour when the statute of limitations is about to expire to file charges? I can assure you that both happened in my case. (They had I believe it was 2 years to file charges, which would have been in June 2017. They waited until May!) When this occurs, it then becomes even more difficult for the defense to go back to obtain certain pieces of evidence because so much time has elapsed. (For example: we tried to go back to obtain copies of video camera footage from convenience stores, etc. and unfortunately most stores only keep their video items for a certain amount of time). So, that begs to question on whether or not that this is a common tactic used by prosecution to delay bringing charges to a certain point, knowing that certain evidence won’t be able to be found. Evidence disappears, people move away, scenery changes, people’s memories change. Hmmm. Along with video now being unattainable, time has passed allowing accounts to be deleted, posts from social media to be altered or removed. There is no preservation of evidence because at that time the only people who knows there MIGHT be a case is the police and the DA’s office. (Isn’t that convenient). One might presume that you could rely on witnesses, however there is not always a lot of witnesses or people involved in a case. Therefore, witnesses are often called by the prosecution and then the only way to question them is through cross examination. In the instance for my case, people were being called into the DA’s office to be interviewed. When they arrived, they were seated in a conference room with the DA and the arresting officer. I don’t know if anyone else was there besides them. I know this because my son’s friends who had to appear and his girlfriend at the time came back and told him what took place. My son’s girlfriend’s father was angry during this meeting. He said that they were asked a series of questions and whenever they didn’t get the answers, they were looking for they felt brow beaten and felt like they were being pressured to try to say what it was they wanted. There was a point when the father stood up to the DA and confronted him head on about some of the questions. He also started to tell him things that he knew to be different than what was being asked. He said that they got so red faced and upset that the meeting was ended abruptly. They don’t want to know the truth. They want their version of the truth. I don’t know how one decides to become a prosecutor. I don’t know how one decides to become a defense attorney. Either side of this fence leaves you either ruthlessly trying to put someone behind bars to make everyone in town happy (Yah! crime is down and being taken care of) or you’re stuck defending someone that possibly did something, and you need to prove they didn’t. (So, how do you separate yourself from that if you feel in your heart that they did?) It’s tough. What I don’t agree with though is using these cases for political agendas, self-promotion, and to get your vengeance for the years you were bullied in school in your past. (Yes, I said it. I think many times people are on a power trip to avenge something that happened in their past). You can be passionate about something, but there comes a time when you need to be able to reflect on both sides of the coin. When you decide to get up every day and willfully manipulate things so that someone can’t properly present a case in their defense-well there’s a verse in the Bible about all that.
The laws of the land and the courts say that we have a right to confront our accusers. I call BS. I am going to walk through this process with you, so that you can understand how messed up things actually are. I want you to understand that this is NOT easy, and they don’t even try to make it easy. Many just give up and plead guilty because the cost to defend themselves and prove their innocence is unaffordable. Even those with money, still can’t get the proper defense. If you do, they have so many loops and hoops to jump through and each one cost more and more. It’s like playing nickel slots at the casino. You know your chances of winning are slim to none but, I have as much chance as anyone else right? So, you keep plugging the nickels into the machine until your bucket is empty and what do have to show for it? NOTHING! A smaller bank account, you still have charges and you’re still facing fines, court fees, and jail time. The only people that win is the court and the lawyers. (I can’t tell you the amount of people involved in the system have told me and people I know that “You were just a money maker for them”) I pray that I can keep you all interested as I try to explain our “injustice” system as I saw it unfold for me. I’m not a lawyer, I have no law degree. I’m just a Christian woman, wife, mother, parolee, who made a mistake and found out the hard way. Hang on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
Should the press, cameras and any sort of media be allowed inside the courtroom? According to our The Constitution of the United States our 1st Amendment right is as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I am asking this question, because after being part of a jury trial myself and having been found guilty I have different feelings towards this issue. I will point you to the 6th Amendment as follows:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
So obviously we’ve all seen court cases throughout the news, the newspapers, social media, etc. I am just as nosey as the next person that wants to know what’s going on. What I didn’t realize though was how it can affect a court case. There’s not much you can do about it either because of the 1st Amendment right. However, what I can tell you is that be allowing the media, newspapers, reports, etc. to constantly post about cases, write tweets about it throughout the trial, etc. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not you are infringing upon that person’s 6th Amendment right. The right to an impartial jury! Most of the time during trial cases, the jury goes home at the end of the day and then returns the next morning. The judge can instruct them to not read the paper, talk to anyone about the case, to not read social media, etc. Who’s policing them though? Sequestering a jury is rare. Asking for a change in venue is next to impossible. The prosecution will use the media as leverage for their case. They have crime reporters who are begging to get the next top story. Everyone is trying to get another notch on their career belt to move up the ladder of success. It doesn’t matter how they get there. The prosecutor in my case was going to be running for judge and so my case was something that was going to help bring him attention and if it meant that getting it at any cost meant me going to jail for his good name then that was what was going to occur. During my case, there was one reporter that was so hell bent on getting her story that she barged into the attorney/client rooms located outside the court room. After, I was sentenced and remanded to custody one of the bailiff’s asked my husband, sister, brother-in-law and a few others wanted to sit in there to collect themselves. Next thing they knew, the door flew open and this reporter storms in pushing. One of the sheriffs at the courthouse had to remove her and she was lucky to not be charged. When my family then left the courtroom, she was waiting outside and pushed herself up under my husband’s umbrella. Where is the sense in this? This biggest shocker to everyone was that there are clear instructions on the courthouse website stating the following:
Prohibited Items in Judicial Center
Knives or any type of cutting instrument (scissors)
Pepper spray or mace
Cameras: However, cameras may be allowed for adoption hearings and certain ceremonial events.
Firearms, ammunition, or black powder
Any type of recording device
Radios and cd players
Tools of any kind
No food or drink (food and drinks for infants and Jurors are allowed).
This particular reporter who sat directly behind the defense table the entire 2 weeks of my trial Tweeted a play by play of the entire hearing. You could go home that evening or at lunch get a recap of what was playing out in the court room. I had friends and family who saw it, so you know that the jury and their families saw it too. She was posting items in the newspaper along with a collogue. Once, my husband called the newspaper to have a story revised because it was totally false. We had proof from a police officer who called the DA’s office to tell them the accusations weren’t true. My husband was told, “People don’t want to know the truth”. So, if you don’t want to know the truth or report it, why read the papers? Doesn’t that then make anything they post questionable? There are people, and I’ve found that many times it’s the older generation that believe everything they read. If it’s in writing, then it must be true. Do you ever happen to notice that some cases get more attention than others? I mean what makes one person’s murder, one person’s robbery, or another person’s dui case any different than the one with less media? If you take a deeper look, there’s normally an agenda behind it. Who’s trying to move up the corporate ladder? So, are they in a sense glorifying your tragedy for their professional gain? It’s sickening when you think of it that way. As a victim, all of this makes you happy because it’s the equivalent of a town hanging. I get it. It’s not a good scenario for anyone. The other problem that I started to have with publishing everything before the final outcome, was “aren’t we supposed to be innocent before being proven guilty?” According to the headlines, they have people guilty, sentenced and put in jail before all the facts come to light. They do this on purpose to get a pulse on how people feel about the case. The DA’s office, the Defense and everyone involved is reading the papers, your comments and for reactions. So, while we do have a first amendment right, at what cost are we willing to allow it to affect the right to a fair trial?
While I was incarcerated, one of the ways to pass time was to watch TV. I tried to fill my time with other more constructive things to do. I learned to crochet, I at one point was enrolled in business classes, I worked, and I attended Bible Studies and Church. I had seen “Chrisley Knows Best” maybe one time before, but I didn’t really become a fan until this point. It was nice watching a Christian family poke fun at each other, Nanny Faye’s antics, Todd’s southern sass, and Julie to doting mom. It cracked me up how they always seemed to put Chase in charge of Nanny Faye. That was like the fox watching the hen house. Together, they were bound to get in trouble. When I started to hear about their legal troubles, I was shocked but yet I wasn’t. It seems like when you have that much money, something is bound to happen. I don’t know all of the details regarding the taxes they did or didn’t pay. That’s not the intent of my post. I have actually now started to follow Savannah’s podcase on Spotify called “Unlocked with Savannah”. Listening, to her stories each week I can relate to the pain and terror that I hear in not only her voice but her mom and siblings. She has touched on some points that were brought up by family/friends as we were dealing with these same issues. It has made me feel better to know that we weren’t the other people feeling and thinking this way during this process. I don’t think anyone can comprehend the ins and outs of the legal system until you are thrown into it. Being an armchair lawyer during episodes of Law and Order isn’t real court. Before Savannah brought up this particular issue during her podcast, I picked up on it just watching and listening as it unfolded in the news. There are many things that I am seeing and hearing with their case that resonated with me. I won’t touch on all of them in this post, but I do want to talk about a main point. What’s the first thing that anyone does when they are charged with a crime? They have to hire a lawyer. The court pretty much tells you that you can’t show up to court without one. Whether they are court appointed or you paid for them yourself, you need a lawyer. I feel pretty safe to say that most of us would have no idea what to say or do inside a court room without one present. Representing yourself doesn’t seem like a wise idea either. Your lawyer will advise you on certain things to do or not to do. One of the first things they are going to tell you to do is not talk about the case with others, and they will also eventually tell you if they feel it’s a good idea or not to testify on your own behalf. What’s happened to Todd and Julie is something that came up in my case as well and that is the fact that apparently their silence has been looked at by the court as being “entitled” or “being arrogant to the facts of the case”. This then was part of the determination of how they were then sentenced. I feel that this is NOT the way that a sentencing should be determined. It should not even be part of that conversation. Don’t get me wrong, if you are someone who is in court for murdering someone and you are laughing and giving no care to human life that is entirely different. You are then a safety concern and not mentally stable. However, when you are sitting in a court room and are told by your legal counsel to do or not do certain things, you listen to them. That’s what you’re paying them for right? So, how does a judge then look at that person and during sentencing bring this up? The newspapers are sitting in the courtroom right behind the defense table. Therefore, anytime your lawyer tries to talk to you they can practically hear what’s going on. That in itself is wrong! To me that broke attorney/client privilege. During my case, my family Dr. had given me medication to settle my nerves because, well they were shot. I was either being seen as emotionless, or if I was crying it was because I was crying for myself and not what was happening. You get accused of taking your case to trial because you “feel entitled”. Todd and Julie are going through the same things. I hear things like, “the judge gave them a harsher sentence because of how nonchalant they were about the charges”. Best believe that when you are charged with a crime, you do not feel nonchalant. A lot of that is fear and just trying to hold yourself together. When I hear statements like this and know firsthand because of hearing them myself, you know that “innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t exist. It seems to me that they want everyone to come to court and throw themselves at their mercy. So, then I must ask, “Who is actually the one that feels entitled?”
In 1994 my husband and I were living in Maryland. We were looking for our first home to start our family. Our first son wouldn’t be born until 1998 and our second son in 2003. Growing up, there wasn’t many kids in close proximity for me to play with. I had 2 close neighbors, and anyone else I had to jump on my bike to go to their homes. When we finally bought our first house, it was in an up-and-coming development, so we knew there would be plenty of kids for ours to play with. Just on our block, our son easily was able to play with 5 or 6 on a daily basis. That was more than I ever had available to me when I was growing up. The kids seemed to like to congregate near our yard. I think this was because the property that we bought was a corner lot and had a huge side yard, facing 2 streets. I found out later that the electric box at the corner was “home base” for games of kickball or whatever else they were playing. My mother-in-law at one point told my husband that she felt that it was probably a good idea that they hung out at our house because then we could keep an eye on things and see what they were up to. I wasn’t so sure, because I remember my dad getting frustrated because my friends and I would try to build forts and he would ask, “why don’t you guys ever go to so & so’s house to do that?” (Probably because we weren’t allowed to do it there either, lol). I tried to keep an ample supply of freeze pops and Kool-Aid in the garage fridge/freezer. That stopped eventually, because like my dad, my husband started seeing wrappers and trash accumulating from blatant disregard after consumption. So, what started out as a gesture of kindness, was reduced to an occasional treat. As my oldest son got older, his friends changed and the kids in the hood were still childhood friends, but not the core group that he’d start to build different friendships with. I had friends that would occasionally spend the night when I was growing up. Especially, when you don’t live close to each other. The school district in this area, I guess you could say, is a farming district. It encompasses a huge area, and a lot of it is rural. A time came when he would spend a lot of his summers at a campground, staying with a friend in a family member’s camper. These overnights became a normal thing. Him staying with friends and us allowing friends to stay at our house. The kids had the latest and greatest game systems, occasionally we’d rent a movie, or a WWE wrestling match for everyone to watch. Pizzas were ordered, snacks, and tons of juice pouches. This all just became a normal routine between the core group of friends that he had at the time. Our younger son was born 5 years later, and he would do the exact same thing. He would spend nights at one friend’s house that had their own tree house to sleep in. Another friend lived in a huge house with a pool and even more games/activities than I could imagine. (Ziplines, fireworks at cookouts to name a few). I know that some parents aren’t keen on this spending the night idea. I guess because this was the norm when I grew, I never considered it to be a problem. I never had a reason to worry, I never had a fear that something was going to happen. If it did, I knew the parents and the kids. We all had become friends through our kids, and occasionally attended gatherings in their homes. Fast forward to Jr/Sr High and these boys all played football together. We’d see each other at games, and even would sit together to cheer on the team. These were not people that didn’t know who we were, that we didn’t know who they were, and we all pretty much knew each other’s parenting styles. (This again was why it seemed natural to buy into the FAMILY idea that the coach had started). That was one lesson I learned early on, was that you should get to know the parents/guardians of your kid’s friends. After meeting them, that normally helped us establish whatever boundaries needed to be established. There were a few times when I had to tell my kids, I don’t want this person back in the house so don’t ask. I also had to tell them that I didn’t feel comfortable with them going there for different reasons, so don’t ask. People who know me, my husband, kids, and my family all know the type of people that we are. When all of this happened to us, to say that it shook them to the core was an understatement. When people that have known you, your entire life and read things about you in the paper’s it affects them. I later learned that there’s a difference between allowing friends to visit and when it starts to become a hang out. I can’t say I wasn’t warned.
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