They say every face in a crowd has a story to tell, this is my story..

The news shows and newspapers all called it 'Road Rage'. To me that sounded like a disease, an affliction that can make you kill. A sorry excuse to take the claw end of a hammer and slam it repeatedly into the skull of a human being. In April of 1999 my little brother passed away. Doesn't passed away sound so gentle, even normal? David's death was neither. It was murder. He was found lying in a strangers driveway in a pool of blood. He had been punched, stomped and beaten over his entire body. I still have so many questions. I wrote this book at first for therapy and then for answers. I have found a few. I mainly realized l lost a brother tragically and senselessly. Like every other face in the crowd I have a story..and I want to share my story with you! PUBLICATION DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED LATE SUMMER/EARLY FALL :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

From "Bristol Stomp" ....The Sentencing..

Driving to the courthouse that day was surreal. I could not believe it was March 17, 2000. It was Saint Patrick’s Day. Hopefully that meant the day would be lucky. I guess that is not the right thought. What I wanted had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with justice.
David died in April. It was nearly a year. I had trouble comprehending it had almost been a year. Little Michael will be turning two at the end of this month. I thought about Michael’s first birthday. That was the last time our entire family was together, happy. I remembered Dave’s smile that day as he proudly held his son. The tears started.
I had to pull over. I had to pull myself together. I wanted to do an effective job reading my impact statement. The prosecutor told us this was our day in court. We did not have to cry quietly. We were not going to be told where we could look and where we couldn’t. Our day in court, yes this was important. I had to get myself together.
I pulled down my visor mirror and did my best to repair my running makeup. Shortly I would witness once again the two scumbags being led off to prison in shackles. This time they would be going off to prison for at least twenty five years. That thought gave me peace. Not happiness, just peace. And of course there was satisfaction in the sight. I could not help that feeling. The thought of the two of them being thrown into little cells with little windows, alone, God forgive me but that was satisfying. I felt better, stronger so I pulled back onto the road.
As I saw the huge round building, I thought about how out of place it looked in this old town. It was too modern. I wondered who designed the ugly building. Maybe ugly isn’t fair, it didn’t fit the landscape of historic Doylestown. Supposedly the courthouse was built here because Doylestown was the center of Bucks County. I wondered what it looked like from the air. It probably looked like a big round ugly dot right there in the center of Bucks County.
I loved the quaint little town. The shops, the old Victorian homes, galleries, the restaurants and of course the bars and churches that reminded me of Bristol. The people that lived in this town, a lot of them were stuck up. They thought their town was so much better than Bristol. They thought they were better. But they did not have the Delaware River and I doubted this town could even come close to the real small town feel of Bristol.

I parked, and started my long walk around the ugly round building. It was windy and as usual I was freezing. I wished bad karma on the idiot that locked the doors closest to the parking lot and the cheap morons that did not install security at both entrances. Things would have moved so much quicker and smoother. The security lines were always too long.
If I was in charge, what a thought that was. There would of course be two entrances. I would also provide some kind of safe haven area for victims and their families. The way it is now, throwing everyone together like cattle was ridiculous. It was also very dangerous.
There was talk of tearing this courthouse down and building a new one. I hoped whoever designed the new building would be a little more compassionate towards victims.
Once again, there were many sheriffs in the hallway leading to the courtroom. I was surprised once again at the large crowd. I scanned around looking for my family. I did not feel safe with so many people gathered in such a small area. I saw my friend Sam the policeman who was now a county sheriff. I would have to remember to wish him a happy Saint Pat’s Day. I knew it was one of his favorites. I missed seeing him in his patrol car in Bristol. He had been there for so long.
I had barely arrived when I was bombarded by my family with the news that Galione and Reeves also had the right to have people speak on their behalf. I was livid. We should have known. It would have changed the way we prepared. We would have had more letters written, we would have asked more friends and relatives to be here for us. I tried so hard not to cry. Damn, I did not want to have to fix my make-up again. I wanted to appear confident and in control.
I was truly shocked to see that Nicole Rivera, Jerry Reeves, girlfriend brought their baby to court. This poor baby had been born with no arms or legs. I felt they were using the baby for sympathy. From what I had heard Jerry had never been there for Nicole or the baby. I did feel sorry for Nicole and hoped she would have the common sense to move on with her life and find some happiness. I hoped her family would be there to support her. For Galione’s girlfriend, Janine, I wished misery for her. She washed David’s blood off Galione’s clothes and lied under oath. I knew she would not stick around and wait for her man. She was too selfish.
I was not prepared for the friends and family of the defendant’s to be given the opportunity to speak. It was sheer torture sitting there listening to how wonderful these two young men were. They were murderers. It was ridiculous. Galione presented the judge with seventy letters of support. Galione’s parents enlisted their friends to speak on their son’s behalf saying, “he has always been so polite”. I was going to be sick again. The judge even commented as to how disturbing it was to that so many of the letters claimed Galione was innocent. The parade of aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and teachers seemed to go on forever.
When it was finally my turn to speak I walked to the front of the courtroom and faced the judge. I got through my letter. Tears stung in my eyes but I fought them off. I did the best I could. When I finished, Mel Kardos asked permission to question me. That had not happened to anybody else all day. I looked at Matt and he shook his head yes. The judge granted the permission. I was shaking. He asked me where I worked. I was stunned. What was his point? I told the judge I was scared to say where I worked. I did not want any of them; to know where I worked. I knew Kardos wanted me to say I worked at The Bucks County Courier Times. He was going to say I had something to do with the press coverage of this case. It was ridiculous, I was lucky if I got a pen in that building let alone the power to drive the news. I turned to Kardos, smiled sarcastically and answered I worked for a company called GPN. He was clearly, annoyed that he did not get the answer he wanted. It was the truth. GPN was Greater Philadelphia Newspapers, I did not lie. That was what was on my paychecks.
I nervously looked over at Laurie Mason, she is the writer for The Bucks County Courier Times, that covers all trials and court related events. She even has her own little office in the basement of the courthouse. I thought that was so cool. She smiled. I ran up to her as soon as it was over and asked her if I lied. She laughed, and said no. She said it was amazing that I came up with the perfect truthful answer.
I found out later from the prosecutor and the reporters that they had never, ever, heard someone questioned after giving an impact statement. It was another excuse to hate Mel Kardos. What an arrogant sob he is!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Trial

It was a cold morning. I had to stop at work before heading to the courthouse. I hate the cold. It would be such a long walk from the parking lot to the courthouse. Opening statements would happen this morning. I was a nervous wreck. I thought about all of the work I would be missing again.
The courtroom was crowded. My whole family was there. I saw our court advocates right away and felt better. I expected a lot of media, my family and friends to be there. What I had not expected, was the large group of people there to support Galione and Reeves. This really surprised me. I really didn’t expect the attitudes they had towards us. The nasty looks and comments hurt. I would have expected some shred of compassion. This was hard enough and now we had to deal with them.
I noticed right away a life size photo of Dave at the front of the courtroom. I had not expected that but it made me feel like he was there.
In his opening statement, Matt Weintraub said he would put witnesses on the stand that would testify that David, Joey and Anthony were so terrified they tried to flee. They banged on doors begging for help. Neighbors would testify that David was pleading for his life, screaming, don’t kill me I have a kid. This is a case of senseless violence, Matt said. It was chilling. I watched the juror’s faces as Matt was speaking. I was glad they seemed to be paying attention. Matt was impressive.
Jerry Reeves’ attorney was Peter Hall. He was a public defender. He was kind of dumpy looking but seemed professional. He seemed annoyed by Matt’s opening statement. Mel Kardos’ on the other hand seemed fidgety. He was shrugging his shoulders and rolling his eyes. Perhaps I just did not like him. I know I did not like him. I could not help thinking he should have just told his client to tell the truth. To say yes I hit him in the head many, many times with the claw end of the hammer, I am very sorry but I am guilty. I may have felt differently. I may not have.
Jimmy Galione looked ridiculous. He was dressed in dark blue pants, a dress shirt and a dark blue sweater vest. They were trying to make him look like an innocent little Catholic school boy but he was so tall it just looked hideous. He did not look sorry. He looked like a liar. He occasionally turned around and smiled at one of his family members. I wanted to puke.
Jerry Reeves looked uncomfortable. He kept his head down most of the time, especially when Matt was speaking. At least he looked guilty.
Let me tell you it takes a lot of self control to be in this position. I love my country. I do believe in our justice system but there is a lot that could be improved. Sitting in a court room full of the killer's supporters is inhumane. There has to be a better way. I tried so hard to ignore them; but they made it impossible.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

When was the first time you truly felt like a grown-up?

I woke up and felt like I couldn't breathe. My throat was so dry. I had to get up. I sat up and put my feet on the floor. I had trouble seeing. I could not tell if it was night or day; the air just looked and felt thick and foggy. I made my way down the hall and to the top of the stairs.I heard voices. I made it half way down and had to stop and rest. I sat on the step. I could hear the voices clearly now. It was the voices of my kid's and they were crying. They were trying to figure out what they could do to help me. My chest hurt; I was panicking. I ran back up the stairs and into the bathroom. I couldn't face them. I turned on the hot water and climbed into the shower. I wanted to feel something, anything but the sorrow that was consuming me. The hot water stung my skin. I leaned against the cold tile wall. My kids heart's were broken and I wanted someone to take care of me. I did not want to be in control, I wanted to lay in bed and have someone hold me. Someone like a husband or a Mom or a Dad. Not my kid's! I was overcome with guilt. I looked down and watched my tears bouncing into the water swirling around and then going down the drain. At that very moment I 'felt' like a grown-up and I needed to act like one. I realized I had been a grown-up my entire life. I was never a child. The oldest of 5 and a mother at 17. I just never thought about it. I needed to pull myself together. I needed to be a real grown-up and set an example for these kids. I was 41 and having trouble dealing with this tragedy. They were only 17, 19 and 23. I still had my parents and grandparents. I needed to show them that yes, bad things happen to good people but we have to live. I went back to work and back to school. I volunteered for a victim's service agency. Whenever I was around my kids I smiled. I did not want to I had too. I needed them to know it was okay to feel happy again. I saved all my crying for the shower.
11 years later times are different. I 'feel' like a grown-up when I'm holding on tight to my husband as we cruise down country roads on his motorcycle. It reminds me of a time when I was about 8 years old and road my bike down a hill with no hands. Yes, at one time I must have been a kid. I 'feel' like such a grown-up when I'm holding a little hand and jumping waves. When we are searching the beach for the best shells and staying on the beach when it rains. I 'feel' like a grown-up when I say yes to ice cream and cookies for dinner and M&M's in our cheerio's for breakfast. It's about watching cartoons until 2 am and cuddling on sofa cushions on the floor until we fall asleep.
Don't get me wrong I want my grand children to grow up happy, healthy and well adjusted but I 'feel' grown-up enough to pass that torch onto their parents. It is a torch they are quite capable of carrying.
I can honestly say I 'feel' so grown-up when I am spending well wasted time with the people I love and smiling because I want to not because I have too.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

When I was alone I remembered the stupid things people said..

People really do say stupid things at funerals. My favorite stupid thing was "He's in a better place". Whenever I heard that I just wanted to scream...what better place? The best place for David was here with his wife and baby. Here with his family. Another favorite was "Time will help". Really, after eleven years I can tell you time DOES NOT HELP! My 26 year old brother was beaten to death for driving the speed limit. There is NO help for that!
What I appreciated hearing were the stories about David from his friends. Friends he had that I did not even know. I appreciated hearing the truth which was "There is nothing I can say or do". I appreciated the people that actually did something, like bring over food and take care of the babies for us. And then there was Tina; my dear friend; I was in the pit of hell and there she was sweeping the floor. I can still see her in my mind just being there and doing something as mundane as sweeping the floor. I cannot explain it, it was just so comforting.
Maybe it was just me that found these things people said to be inappropriate. Maybe it is okay to say to someone who has lost a loved one who had been suffering for a long time "They are in a better place".
What do you say or do in these awkward situations? I would really like to know...