Drink, Drive, and Go to Prison with the “Big Boys”

From my journal dated March 2, 2003:

This past Thursday was the omnibus hearing. What an awful time for this hearing to be set, with March 3rd right around the corner. It was an uneventful hearing, but we had decided that we really want to be involved and aware of what’s going on in the legal process concerning the accident. We just can’t ignore the legal stuff going on; that wouldn’t be right. It wouldn’t be fair to Jason.

The most sobering thing was watching the 25 prisoners come in for their own hearings – dressed in their red or blue jumpsuits with a chain around their waist and hands linked by another chain to the waist chain. It was sobering for me to realize that J.H.*, the cocky, good looking, 19-year old who killed Jason and Alina, would probably be one of those prisoners one day. He may very well be the “new meat on the block” soon. So few of them even had anyone in the courtroom as support. It was a scary sight.

J.H., his parents and attorney weren’t in the courtroom yet when the prisoners came in, although we saw him in the lobby when we came in. I’m sure it would have been an eye-opening experience had they been there. J.H. has been acting so arrogant and cocky at every hearing, so condescending when he looks at the Christianson’s or us. I turned to Jenna after the prisoners were seated and said, “If I were J.H. and saw that, it would scare the literal hell out of me!” I’m sure this was not what he bargained for when he and his friends started out partying the night of March 2, 2002…or, in the early hours of the morning on March 3, 2002, when he got behind the wheel of his friend’s car drunk and barreled down the road over twice the speed limit. He didn’t think of the consequences of his actions – that he could kill people and might be going to prison with the “big boys” as a result of his choices.

We met with the prosecutor after the hearing. She said she will probably be meeting with J.H.’s attorney later in the week for “negotiations.” She thinks he’ll try to get the charges lowered so J.H. can get off without jail/prison time. If he continues to plead not guilty, she’ll use the next hearing to amend the charges and add an additional vehicular homicide charge [J.H. had initially been charged with only one vehicular homicide charge – for the deaths of two people].

Jenna commented to me after the hearing that [the family in our homeschool group whose son was hit by a train] doesn’t have to deal with the legal stuff on top of their grief. She said all of the legal stuff brings everything back up. We have to live it all over again…and over again…and over again. It rips the scabs off and everything is fresh all over again.

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

4 thoughts on “Drink, Drive, and Go to Prison with the “Big Boys”

  1. since you are much farther into your journey, may i impose on you to answer a question for me please? does the court stuff ever get easier? will we actually be able to start healing when it’s done? or does it never end because after sentencing, the next phase is parole? do i have to wait for this scumbag to die before i can begin healing? thanks

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. You have every right to be angry that someone took your precious dad from you. Deep grief is never easy. It takes more time and energy than we expect it would, and all the legal stuff complicates it even more. The court stuff was not easy. (As with most cases, ours ended with a plea bargain so we didn’t go through the actual trial phase.) I don’t want to give you a trite answer, and I certainly have never claimed to be a grief expert. I can only talk about what I felt and what we went through. Each griever and each circumstance is unique.

      I can’t explain it, but I didn’t hate the guy. I hated his cocky, arrogant behavior in court – like he was going to get away without any consequences to his choices and actions. I hated what he did, and I hated losing Jason most of all. But I didn’t hate him. The realization that I was going to have to live the rest of my life without my precious boy was almost more than I could bear. I was very angry for a while. I was angry with God for not protecting my boy. I was angry at being left so alone by people we counted on to be there for us when we needed them most. I had to reach a point where I made a conscious choice that I didn’t want anger to be my focus. I didn’t want others’ actions/inactions or my anger toward them or circumstances to determine what I did with and how I lived my life. I want to live a life where Jason would be proud of me. I want to be productive and helpful.

      J.H. served only 2 2/3 years in prison for killing Jason and Alina. The judge waived the additional/consecutive 1-year jail sentence for the hit-and-run (as long as he stayed out of trouble with the law). Both of those were bitter pills to swallow at the time and something I actively had to work through. I can honestly say that I have hardly thought of J.H. at all over the past years (until writing this blog based on my journals). I hope he took the opportunity to make better choices with his life once he got out.

      I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.

  2. I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through. Not many people face such a complicated, unfair loss. My thoughts are with you on your journey, what an inspirational woman you are.

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