“As the Scars Begin to Heal… I Feel Like A Tree Covering Itself with New Growth…”

Addie Carone has suffered the slings and arrows of daily living…. However, she has faced much than the average person, still living life on its own terms, dealing with insurmountable losses and facing them head on in her own determined way…

She is a New England Yankee with a strong constitution, (as is Ladyjustice), whose will and fortitude defies  the trouble that has stayed on her doorstep for 25 years, in one form or another…..  And it is only in the recent past, that she has been able to sweep most of it away…..    Remnants remaining, as the murderer and longtime fugitive, Adam Zachs shows his true colors- feeling a sense of entitlement and lack of responsibility for taking a precious life.  What’s a woman to do? LIVE YOUR LIFE IN SPITE OF….  But never forgetting….

Listen to interview with Addie Carone:  CLICK HERE

Ladyjustice and Delilah had the extreme pleasure of interviewing Addie Carone whose son , Peter was murdered  in March 1987, with the perpetrator released on bond…setting in motion a virtual lifetime of not knowing, a fugitive status,  that took on international proportions!  Addie reflected on her life, her family and the aftermath of the crime…

Please Tune In: Learn How One Homicide Survivor Conquered Challenges  the Rest of Us…Can’t Even Imagine:

  • It was 25 years ago…
  • Multiple, simultaneous Family losses – March through October  1987;
  • Addie’s Support System: Survivors of Homicide, Inc.;  a very Large Family; Growing Up During World War II …and a very Supportive Workplace;
  • The Work of A Social Worker Designee and a New Homicide Survivor;
  •  Making the case for “Yankees”
  • A Co-Worker reaching out: “Addie, What do I do?”
  • Her Treatment by “The System” (Police, FBI, Marshalls) – “I Had to Figure out what to do.”  An Unusual Account;
  • “It’s An Open Case…”
  • International proportions and… America’s Most Wanted  X Three
  • America’s Most Wanted in 2005- “They Turned My House Upside Down”
  • An upheaval, an intrusion –What NOT  to do… a “little Defiance “
  • Staging and Preparation for Television;
  • “My Heart is Broken – I ached; It was so real”
  • Addie Dancing:  YouTube: “Heartache” by Ted Weems: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEQMlYDVDFM&feature=related
  • The Worst Kind of Loss: A Child;
  • Peter broke down concerning his father’s illness: A week later…..a homicide;
  • Family Ties….. “The Little Rascals” and being a Twin;
  • Loss in the Community- Memories of Peter;
  • The Harsh Realities…Peter’s Friends  Carrying his Casket;
  • Advice to other Homicide Survivors- The Benefit of Journal Writing
  • “TIME REMEMBERED: A JOURNAL FOR SURVIVORS  by Earl A. Grollman-

 Inspirational quotes and cues, “room to write” to assist you in your process of grieving:


  • Addie reads  marking the Tenth Anniversary …So touching!
  • Kathleen, Peter’s Fiancé –A Wedding Announcement  on the Refrigerator;
  • Keeping the Homicide in the Eye of the Public- “You Have to Take the Bull by the Horns and Do it Yourself”
  • The Teacher’s Background and Social Work Designee- “Pick up the Phone and Get it Done”
  • Reporters’ Response;
  • Adam Zachs Sentenced to 60 Years in Prison- Four Conditions by the Judge

“Four of Nothing” [Ladyjustice was There to Hear the “Conditions” too!]

    • A Family of Financial Means…. Trying to Delay Punishment;
    • Addie’s Opportunity at the Trial of Fred Zachs- 45 Minutes;
    • Changing the World Before Computers-One letter at a Time-
    • Connecticut State Legislature:   1999- Public Act: 98-51 – House Bill 5637-  “An Act Concerning Post Bail Conviction;”
    •  (i.e.  In the State of Connecticut,  Convicted Murderers are NO LONGER PERMITTED to Appeal their Sentences  from the Comfort of their Homes – from their Jail Cells Only!  Thanks to Addie Carone…….
    • Michael Skakel – A Seven Time (Loser) Appealer!
    • Delilah Asks, Given All that You’ve Been Through, How Do You Feel about the Whole Experience Now?  Answer: “ One Does What They Have to Do”
    • Comments about the Justice System;
    • Adam Zachs: “It’s Not Over Anymore….”

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Mary Fetchet – A 9/11 Voice Extraordinaire

 

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Prelude to a crusader:  Musical link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xuVHgz1tJk

Please listen to Dame Shirley Bassey “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (2 min, 24 sec)

Much has been written about 9/11.  Although Ladyjustice is a confident writer after all of these years, even as a homicide survivor,  how does anyone do justice to such an event?  ‘Nearly impossible!  There have been numerous memorials in every state, dedications, fundraisers, media tributes and movies as well as personal gestures from young and old alike.

Amid considerable tears, LJ watched the 10 year anniversary television coverage on a recent Sunday and was witness to the spectacular, well planned and executed Ground Zero Memorial.  This site was indeed awe producing, an environment that was inviting and personally serene as well. Can’t wait to order my ticket and attend before the winter snow flies….

For all of the cynical blog comments noted, including, “F—– it, Move on…” this blogger states unequivocally that you don’t deserve to breathe the same air as the rest of us…  You are self-centered, selfish and totally devoid of compassion!  You will never, ever understand homicide…unless you experience it up close and personal!  But… on to others much more deserving of ink…..

Mary and Frank Fetchet are a couple living in Fairfield County Connecticut (on the doorstep of New York City.)   They happened to have a son Brad, 24 years old, who was working in the World Trade Center Towers on that fateful day. Brad left a reassuring phone message for his mother stating essentially that…”I’m fine… Don’t worry.  We’re in the other tower.  They may even let us out of work early.”

How wrong he was….   Brad’s father, Frank stated that at the time, he felt confident that as his son was “innovative and streetwise” he would probably find his way out. He did not….  He perished with many others.

In Ladyjustice’s opinion, the best account ever that encompasses all aspects of 9/11 with a tremendous amount of information is the former Court TV 2005 documentary called, “On Native Soil.”  This work is an engrossing, touching and shocking journalistic film told from many perspectives.    It provides the viewer a courageous example what homicide survivors are capable of when given the will and determination.  The fact that a small group of surviving families collectively “turned the government tide” and overrode Congress and the wishes of President Bush is truly unprecedented!

The primary force behind this tremendous feat was social worker and mother of Brad Fetchet, Ms.  Mary Fetchet. The “Voices of 9/11” was created by a small group of Fairfield County, Connecticut and New York surviving families after the terrorist bombings and became recognized as the premier organization addressing  the ongoing needs of family members of nearly 3,000 murder victims,  rescue workers, and survivors whose focus is prevention, preparedness and response related to terrorism.

The Critical Time:

The end of 2001 and 2002 was  the critical time in which survivors came together for very important reasons:  to find answers; to hold those responsible accountable; to improve the status quo; to seek comfort and to memorialize their loved ones in a meaningful way.According to detailed information offered in On Native Soil,” the quest for answers was indeed a bumpy road. Congress had oversight of governmental agencies such as the CIA, the FBI and the FAA.  All of these agencies, as well as the Bush and Clinton Administrations “passed the buck,” dropped the ball” and failed miserably!

On June 2, 2002, the families representing 9/11 victims were denied a Federal investigation. The 9/11 families were shocked and appalled to say the least.  As Mary Fetchet put it, “I was naïve enough to believe that people would do the right thing.”  Following the denial, Senators Joe Lieberman (D- CT) and John McCain (R- AZ) introduced a resolution to Congress.  It failed…  After an all night vigil, family members, “faced down” President Bush’s Assistant for Legislative Affairs, Nick Calio.  Calio approached the President and told him despite Washington’s opposition, fearing what would be uncovered, they had no choice but to ‘give in to their demands.” There were 12 public hearings within a 16 month period.  The failures and incompetencies revealed as one views “On Native Soil” were absolutely unbelievable!

The consensus among surviving families was that there was frequent lack of cooperation with Committee member’s questions, stonewalling, and a total lack of responsibility or accountability.  “I’ll have to get back to you on that”;   ”I wasn’t in charge when “X” occurred,” were typical responses.  And one of the few tangible accomplishments three years later when the final report was issued,  included a new government position known as the “Director of National Intelligence.” Next were the tasks of creating legislation from the recommendations and implementing them for the benefit of the masses and future generations.  This is still a work in progress.

Mary Fetchet:  The Person; the Director and her Accomplishments

       Mary Fetchet, LCSW  

Founding Director – Voices of September 11th

Mary Fetchet is the Founding Director and driving force behind VOICES of September 11th. A professional social worker and former educator, Ms. Fetchet co-founded the 9/11 advocacy organization following the death of her 24-year-old son, Brad, in the attacks on the World Trade Center.  

Ms. Fetchet’s mission: to create an organization that addresses the ongoing needs of families of the nearly 3,000 victims, rescue workers and survivors while promoting awareness for prevention, preparedness and response related to terrorism. Her firsthand experience as a social worker and victims’ advocate has uniquely influenced the evolution of VOICES in creating programs that anticipate the long-term, intergenerational needs of 9/11 families and survivors.  

Headquartered in New Canaan, CT. with a recently opened second office in New Brunswick, N.J., VOICES is a grass roots family advocacy group providing support and navigating complicated political systems for over 11,000 members. The international organization serves as a clearinghouse of information for 9/11-related issues, offers links to related resources and provides an expanding range of services. Programs include: support groups, lectures, Day of Remembrance events and forums as well as outreach to all those affected by the events of September 11th.  

Providing Information, Outreach and Programs

VOICES experienced staff provide information, outreach and programs on the many aspects of post-9/11 life, with a particular focus on helping 9/11 families, survivors, rescue and recovery workers and others affected by fostering resiliency through family-based mental health programs.

In September, 2006 VOICES launched the 9/11 Living Memorial Project, a digital archive commemorating the lives of the nearly 3,000 lost at the Pentagon, Shanksville, PA and the World Trade Center site and documenting the first hand accounts of rescue workers and survivors.

VOICES professional staff has conducted hundreds of workshops throughout the United States and met one-on-one with over 800 families to create a meaningful tribute to their loved ones.

The 9/11 Living Memorial Project has grown to an extensive collection of over 30,000 photographs, written materials and personal keepsakes shared by those impacted that tell a meaningful story that will preserve the stories of 9/11 for future generations.

Ms. Fetchet has achieved significant local and national praise for her advocacy work.  A strong advocate for raising national and local preparedness, Ms. Fetchet campaigned for the creation of the independent 9/11 Commission and continues to promote the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations for government reforms. She has testified before the 9/11 Commission, and before the United States Senate and House of Representatives on five occasions. She has made countless appearances on national television programs, and frequently contributes to print and radio news media.  

Ms. Fetchet has served on a number of advisory boards and organizations including: The Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission, the National Homeland Defense Foundation, the National Traumatic Stress Network, the Coalition of 9/11 Families, the Family Advisory Committee of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), Columbia’s WTC Evacuation Study as well as the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Homeland Security Alert System Task Force.  

Ms. Fetchet’s work has brought her substantial recognition that includes being a recipient of the National Justice Award in 2003 and being presented with the ‘Connecticut Hero’ award by Senator Joseph Lieberman in September 2004. She was also named an ABC News Person of the Year in December 2004. Other honors include a 2005 Red Cross Award, a 2005 Rotary Foundation Paul Harris Fellowship, and a 2006 “Connecticut’s Most Uncommon Women” award. A graduate of Columbia University with an M.S. degree,

Ms. Fetchet worked as a clinical social worker at Bridges, an outpatient mental health clinic in Milford, CT. She lives in New Canaan with her husband Frank, and has two surviving sons, Chris, age 22, and Wes, age 29.  

Mary is a tireless advocate for all 9/11 families.  To use a familiar comparison to many readers, she is the “Susan Murphy Milano” representative for surviving families suffering from the most  horrendous terrorist event in history.  She carries the torch for all survivors….   Ladyjustice knows very well that government operates by its own rules,  is steeped in bureaucracy, often for no good reason, other than “tradition,” creates its own problems and is often quite disillusioning to the average person.   [‘Just like the criminal justice system!]    Are we not surprised that it takes sane and reasonable people so long to recover, not only from their tragedies… but by adding insult to injury when forced to deal with the endless frustrations and obstacles encountered by all of these entities?

We are so proud of you , Mary!

Opportunities….

To view a wonderful video   “Voices of  9/11  A Take Part Short Film,” go to link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zyuaeiY1aU.

To visit their website and donate: please go to: http://www.voicesofseptember11.org/dev/index.php

To purchase a copy of “On Native Soil,” go to:

http://www.amazon.com/Native-Soil-Kevin-Costner/dp/B000FWHW7C

Respectfully,

Donna R. Gore, M. A.

“Ladyjustice”

Homicide Survivor, Connecticut

 

 

 

 

Landmark Domestic Violence Legislation: Tracey Thurman vs. Torrington, CT Is There a Downside?

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*photo via Pinterest


Who would have thought that two Connecticut cities would be prominently known by the eyes of the world for horrific crime and subsequent landmark legislation?  Virtually everyone has heard of the sleepy affluent town of Cheshire that will forever be known as the former home of Dr. William Petit, Jr. and his now deceased immediate family.

[LJ note:  To be totally accurate, the Petit family siblings grew up in a small blue collar town known as Plainville, and is far from affluent as towns go…] 

 However, the “other city” that put Connecticut on the map as the “Domestic violence capital of Southern New England” is Torrington, CT.  Torrington is also a very blue collar town and has its roots in the Algonquin family Indian tribe 10,000 years ago and… became a thriving mill town situated on the Naugatuck River and was an integral part of the Naugatuck Valley Railroad.  In the mid 19th century, Torrington was producing a vast array of metal products including needles, brass, ice skates, hardware, bicycles, and tacks. 

Hard working stiffs from the mills were the status quo. Today some manufacturing still exists, but the entrepreneurial endeavors are different with several health care entities and a precision golf corporation as major companies.  Big deal you say…..  Well, maybe.  

However, in the early ‘80s this blue collar town still had its share of people who may labor hard by day….but drink hard and beat others by night just as any locality …. 

The case Ladyjustice is referring to is the Tracey Thurman case.

Tracey was an attractive impressionable motel maid who succumbed to the supposed charms of laborer, Charles “Buck” Thurman.  This man was the poster boy for everything that is wrong with “the system” particularly as it relates to law enforcement, repeated threats and violent physical abuse.

Tracey tried to file complaints against her husband but city officials ignored her.

Even when her husband was finally arrested after attacking her in full view of a policeman and after a judge issued an order prohibiting him to go to his wife’s home, the police continued to ignore Thurman’s pleas for help. Her husband violated the order and came to her house and threatened her. When she asked the police to arrest him for violating his probation and threatening her life, they ignored her yet again.  She obtained a restraining order against Buck whom he violated, but again the police failed to take any action.

The absolute helplessness and futility felt by Tracey was unconscionable, inconceivable, as she “did everything right” (at the time) and was ignored by those sworn to protect.   This monster got away with his brutality time after time after time… 

 But… on June 10th, 1983, Buck assaulted Tracy for the last time. 

Buck Thurman stabbed Tracey thirteen times in the chest, neck, shoulders, and face, which occurred ten minutes AFTER she called the Torrington Police. 

He kicked her in the head with a booted foot, snatched up their two-year-old, told the child, “I’ve killed your rotten mother,” and left her lying in a pool of blood. It took twenty-five minutes for the police to arrive. Amazingly, Tracy did not die, but the damage was extensive and beyond belief, as was her will to survive! 

As reported by the Domestic Violence Examiner in July 2010, Tracey spent seven months in the hospital. Although the left side of her body was able to function, she had no tactile sensation. The right side of her body retained tactile sensation, but she had lost 80% of her motor skills.   

It goes without saying….. Ladyjustice sounds like a broken record, just like her ”teacher” Susan Murphy Milano, had the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit, means to make a video tape and other safeguards been available and in use….. Tracey might have had a chance at being a healthy woman … and Torrington would not be forever hanging its proverbial head in shame! 

What makes this case so atypical is that Tracey had good legal advice and the courage to do something that no one else had ever done…. 

In 1984, Tracey Thurman sued the City of Torrington, Connecticut, and 24 of its police officers for their failure to arrest her violent and estranged husband, Charles “Buck” Thurman. 

In her legal suit, Tracey claimed a violation of her constitutional rights, as set forth in various constitutional amendments, but mainly the Fourteenth.  The Fourteenth Amendment states, in part, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Tracey Thurman alleged that by following a policy of not arresting abusive husbands or boyfriends, Torrington police failed to provide the same protection for abused wives and children as they provided for victims of similar assaults outside a domestic relationship.
 

*** In a landmark decision the court agreed, ruling that officers could indeed be held accountable for violating the rights of battered women. 

The court awarded Tracey Thurman $2.3 million in compensatory damages.  Shortly after this court decision, the Connecticut legislature adopted a more comprehensive domestic violence law. In the twelve months after the new law took effect, the number of domestic violence assaults reported increased by 92 percent!  (In the first 12 months following the new law, arrests for domestic assaults doubled from 12,400 arrests to 23,830. 

As reported in DV –The Laws and the Courts-Landmark Legal Decisions,

In Thurman v. City of Torrington (1984), the U.S. District Court for Downstate Connecticut agreed, stating:

City officials and police officers are under an affirmative duty to preserve law and order, and to protect the personal safety of persons in the community. This duty applies equally to women whose personal safety is threatened by individuals with whom they have or have had a domestic relationship as well as to all other persons whose personal safety is threatened, including women not involved in domestic relationships. If officials have notice of the possibility of attacks on women in domestic relationships or other persons, they are under an affirmative duty to take reasonable measures to protect the personal safety of such persons in the community.

[A] police officer may not knowingly refrain from interference in such violence, and may not automatically decline to make an arrest simply because the assailant and his victim are married to each other. Such inaction on the part of the officer is a denial of the equal protection of the laws.

For the federal district court, there could be little question that “such inaction on the part of the officers was a denial of the equal protection of the laws.” The police could not claim that they were promoting domestic harmony by refraining from interference in a marital dispute because research had conclusively demonstrated that police inaction supports the continuance of violence. There could be no question, the court concluded, that the city of Torrington, through its police department, had “condoned a pattern or practice of affording inadequate protection or no protection at all, to women who complained of having been abused by their husbands or others with whom they have had close relations.” The police had, therefore, failed in their duty to protect Tracey Thurman and deserved to be sued.

This blogger could comment endlessly on the failures of the police, the culture that allowed it to happen, the pieces of paper called “orders of protection “that are not worth the paper upon which  they are written, and the needless suffering, trauma  and near fatal injuries suffered by Tracey.  The fact that the court, in its wisdom under the Fourteenth Amendment opened the door to “a little piece of justice” and lambasted the incompetent, ignorant, and seemingly blind police force is still somehow little consolation for this woman and her family in LJ’s opinion.  Money can help, but the scars, lifelong trauma and terror and toll on the human body and soul can never be compensated for!

Update 2011:  The Pendulum Has Swung Far and Wide:

One of Ladyjustice’s favorite editorial writers, the Hartford Courant’s Helen Ubanis, recently wrote a piece about this topic.  The article dealt specifically with the fact that Connecticut leads the nation in the number of dual arrests as it pertains to domestic violence.  

For illustrative purposes, Helen told the story of “Dawn” who was brutalized by her husband last February. She saw her opportunity.  As the children were nearby sledding, she was cornered by her car. She had never called the police on him before, but it was now or never. In addition to being badly bruised, she thought he had fractured her kneecap and shoulder as he pushed her to the ground.

Her husband didn’t have a scratch on him.  He told police “Dawn was preventing him from leaving.”  Dawn was shocked that winter day when the police later arrested them both.  Under Connecticut’s mandatory arrest law, if the police find evidence, they must make an arrest.

Connecticut currently has the highest incidence of dual arrests in the country pertaining to the arrest of both the accuser and accused under this law. Data from the year 200 showed that most arrests were for reasons other than assaults.  In 2007, 20% of the domestic violence cases revealed dual arrests.  In 2009, that figure rose to nearly 50%.  Comparatively speaking, the rest of the U.S. arrests both parties in less than 2% of the DV cases. 

Before one jumps to conclusions, the data may mislead based upon Connecticut’s “broader definition of domestic partner,” underreporting, and not reporting arrests at all or those states that have “less stringent laws.”

Connecticut’s interim Executive Director of Coalition for Domestic Violence, Karen Jarmoc reported that this matter has been troubling for a long time.  In 2011 the legislature created a task force to examine the family violence statute and dual arrests. 

Some police chiefs state that clearly, 30 years ago, officers weren’t doing enough, However, some believe they may now be “doing too much.”   What is the solution?

Michael Lawlor, former legislator and now Connecticut’s undersecretary of justice policy and planning for the Office for Policy and Management, thinks it’s difficult top write a statute forcing police officers to do exactly what you want them to do “without unintended consequences.” Lawlor goes on to say that pointing the spotlight at a problem begins to change behavior and that perhaps some police agencies “don’t yet appreciate dual arrests.”

And now, back to Dawn’s Case….

Two weeks after she was beaten by her husband, her breach of peace charge was dropped. The experience made a lasting impression on her.  Her sentiments are those of thousands of women….  She said, “It’s difficult enough to deal with the physical and emotional effects of having to fight to protect yourself from the person who hurt you.  But to also have to fight the system that’s supposed to protect you is too much.  It’s why so many women back off.”

The jury is still out regarding what the solution might be specifically concerning the issue of dual arrests.   However, Ladyjustice has the perfect solution when speaking of the broader issue at hand.  Our own Jane Wayne – Susan Murphy Milano’s Time’s Up “roadmap” which can be tailor made to fit each individual’s situation. We need you more than ever in Connecticut!   Help, please!!!

Incidentally, for those who want to re-live the story of Tracey Thurman’s former horrific existence, a TV movie was crafted after the landmark case called, “A Cry for Help”.  As this writer recalls, the production was less than stellar.  However, Nancy McKeon is a very talented actress and did a wonderful job in her portrayal.

It was recently viewed by Ladyjustice on YouTube.  However, lo and behold, it has recently been pulled by CBS for “numerous third party copyright infringements.”   Perhaps Netfix might have it.

Here’s a bit more detail…

Tracey Thurman was a real-life Connecticut housewife who, throughout her marriage, suffered horrendous abuse at the hands of her husband. The beatings culminate in a single bloody night when Buck Thurman stabs his estranged wife 13 times. She survives–barely–and Buck is arrested. Having failed to get proper protection from the local police force, Tracey successfully sued the officers in 1989. The long-range result was the Thurman Law, which called for mandatory arrests in wife-beating cases in Connecticut and several other states. Nancy McKeon, who plays Tracey Thurman in A Cry for Help, starred in the film in the hope that it would prevent Buck Thurman’s early release from prison.

 

 A Cry For Help: The Tracy Thurman Story first aired on October 2, 1989; Thurman was scheduled for release in 1991. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast

 

 

Ladyjustice is unsure of the status of Buck Thurman today…. And that is a very scary thought!

Regardless if you view this film or not, do buy a copy of Susan Murphy Milano’s “Time’s Up” book from Amazon or her website – www.susanmurphymilano.com. It’ll be the best investment ever made, particularly if you are another woman like Dawn….

And… 

To read about other key domestic violence cases resulting in landmark legislation go to the following link: 

Domestic Violence—The Laws and the Courts – Landmark Legal Decisions” target=”_blank”><a href=”http://www.libraryindex.com/pages/2074/Domestic-Violence-Laws-Courts-LANDMARK-LEGAL-DECISIONS.html”>Domestic Violence—The Laws and the Courts – Landmark Legal Decisions</a>


Until Next Time, 

Keep Faith and Hope in Your Heart, 

LadyJustice

History can only be written by the survivors….



As a homicide survivor, I am privileged to author this initial blog in furtherance of understanding, shared information and some degree of comfort for my fellow members of this fast growing “club.”

In 1981, my father was murdered at age 47 by a career criminal whose  many crime credentials included bank robbery, drug dealer and two time murderer.  Those are the credentials I know of… The details of the murder I will save for another chapter.

However, the incredulous nature of our ongoing victimization leads me to think of a number of “FIRSTS” (i.e. those circumstances that appear to have occurred only to our family at the time).  Such “firsts” are aberrations, a series of mistakes, oversights, slights, inefficiencies, acknowledgements and offerings from systems overburdened by humans who were just doing their job or not doing it at all.  Irrespective of the perpetrators actions, such occurrences add insult to injury and have the cumulative effect of an avalanche as time marches on trying desperately to catch up with justice.

I will state that these “FIRSTS” occurred over a six year period (without benefit of any particular order)

FIRST:

As my father did not return home one evening, after checking with friends, neighbors and hospitals, my mother opened the newspaper to learn of his possible demise versus being notified by the Hartford Police.  She exclaimed, “Oh my God, that’s him.  It has to be…..”   (Referring to an article of a missing man found in a green van).

We actually had to call the police ourselves and inquire if the person in the paper was indeed my father. (My mother reported that the detective supposedly covered his hand over the phone’s speaker and announced to others that, “She’s just identified him”)

I’ll never forget walking into the police department and seeing his coat paraded past us in a plastic bag.

Possible Explanation: It had been a bad month for my Dad.  He was stopped at a light that month and a person demanded his wallet.  He had not replaced his identification in his wallet yet.

No Justification:  However, it was a matter of record that as an entrepreneur of several successful businesses in the past, he was a registered used car dealer well known to all with contact information readily available from other sources such as his license plate etc.

Why did this happen in this way?  Were the police too busy, lazy or incompetent?  No one knows…  We have never received a reasonable explanation for such an injustice so early on in the process.

Another FIRST

When my father was killed, there was no specific provision or protection of your employment for crime victim’s participation in a murder trial.  At the time, I was working as a clinical speech-language pathologist in a Rehabilitation hospital.  When I asked for time off to attend the trial,six years later in 1987, hospital Administration was supportive but stated,

“The only time off we have to cover such absences is a maternity leave.”

Solution:  As trial proceedings typically did not start until 10 a.m, I was permitted to write patient notes while waiting for the trial to begin and report to work during any recesses during the three week trial.

Thank God times and rights have changed!

Connecticut is one of the first states in the U.S. to provide employment protection for crime victims.  UnderC.G.S. §54-85b an employer cannot fire, harass or otherwise retaliate against an employee subpoenaed as witness in criminal case or against the crime victim for:

(1) attending court proceedings related to the criminal case; or

(2) being the beneficiary of a restraining order or protective order.

With respect to a protective order issued outside of the state of Connecticut, to receive protection from employer retaliation the order must be registered in Connecticut.

An employer can be found guilty of criminal contempt and fined or imprisoned for violating this law.  Further, a crime victim (or witness) can bring a civil lawsuit against the employer for damages resulting from the violation and for a court order reinstating the victim (or witness) or otherwise rescinding the employer’s unlawful action.

(1981, P.A. 81-186; 2002, P.A. 02-136, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 2002.)

Another FIRST

When the homicide occurred in April 1981, the perpetrator was wanted for criminal drug charges in the state of New Jersey and by law had to serve out that sentence prior to conviction of the Capitol murder of my father.

The perpetrator of my father’s murder actually committed murder again one month later when his accomplice in a bank robbery could be identified when his mask was removed.

This double murderer filed for a speedy trial to be extradited back to Connecticut, saying his rights were violated!  Luckily the wise judge in his discretion was not persuaded of this Sixth Amendment right.

The perpetrator, whose name is a type of fish (How appropriate) in the end, was convicted of 50 years to life for felony murder and concurrently, 25 years to life for accessory to murder for the second killing “of his friend/accomplice.”
As luck would have it, the harsher, more absolute determinate sentences were not imposed inConnecticut until July of 1981 (just three months short) of determinant sentencing.

The Difference in Connecticut:

Indeterminate Sentencing in effect until 1981. Imposed minimum and maximum terms and parole board had authority to release offender from prison after completing the minimum term less any “good time” credits earned.

Determinate Sentencing, enacted in 1981, imposes fixed prison term and reduced “good time”. Discretionary release authority shifted from parole board to Department of Correction.

And so, we were caught in the morass of the change of laws in 1981.  ‘ Long story short, “the fish” in jail for those in six years until extradited to Connecticut to stand trial for two murders.  We were re-victimized.  He will technically be eligible for parole in 2013.

Another FIRST
As we all know, during a trial, the victim’s life is put on trial, is open for judgment, character assassination and spectacle.  Anything goes if it will help make the defendant look better.  During the defendant’s time, the relatively new (2nd chair) public defender looked for real and imaginary skeletons in my father’s closet without consideration of our feelings.  This is how it’s done. (My father was not perfect, but his sins did not rise to the level of a death sentence….)

After sitting through this three week trial, listening to the good, the bad and the ugly, this lanky ands seemingly arrogant and insensitive public defender approached me personally and stated,“I’m sorry I have to do this.” I was told by court personnel that such an exchange had neveroccurred before to their knowledge.  It wasn’t much of an offering, but it was an attempt given horrendous circumstances,

Twenty five years later, this same PD is a specialist in criminal and civil law.  Funny how he “cut his teeth” on the trial that was so very important to us…

Another FIRST
Imagine your first exposure to criminal proceedings.  You are used to seeing one jury and one crime presented at a time.  However, this was not the case.  Suddenly I noted that there was testimony regarding the killing of my father followed by testimony of the second crime simultaneously with one jury!   What is this, I thought?  Are they trying to save taxpayers money by doubling up on trials?  I don’t get it….   My Dad deserved center stage!

We had heard that our prosecutor, Atty. A. was very tired after just finishing a long and arduous trial of a well known cardiologist who killed his wife by staging it to look like a car accident.  Did this have something to do with the two trials-one jury scenario?

Later I was to learn that this was a intelligent but lesser used legal concept known as” joinder.”
“Joinder in criminal law is a legal term which refers to the inclusion of additional counts or additional defendants on an indictment. In English law, charges for any offense may be joined in the same indictment if those charges are founded on the same facts, or form or are a part of a series of offences of the same or a similar nature. A number of defendants may be joined in the same indictment even if no single count applies to all of them, provided that the counts are sufficiently linked. The judge retains the option to order separate trials.”

In practical terms, this means that when a person is on trial for criminal charges in more than one murder, as was the case here, this legal option may be used.  In our case, the evidence was strong with my Dad’s murder while the evidence with “the same cast of characters”in the second case  was weaker.  By using joinder, convictions can be facilitated by the stronger case carrying the weaker case. From written information on our case it appeared that the jury was able to differentiate the evidence and come to the conclusion that “the fish” most likely committed the second murder as portrayed.

Unintended Benefits

Several years ago, I was doing research at the law library for an Advanced Victimology Course and actually located my father’s case in a Connecticut  law journal.  How cool is that???  Although I would much rather have him with us today versus having his case appear in publication, it may in fact, serve to help others.

Another female well known public defender in our case (the “1st chair”) was kind enough to send me information for my paper when I requested it…. all these years later.  To have communication with “their side” was an eerie feeling.  Maybe, just maybe it was a small gesture of delayed justice.

Another FIRST

Within the first 48 Hours, there is always a whirlwind of activity when you are dealing with serious crime.  Family members are at there most vulnerable.  So, imagine, if you will, our family gathered around the television hearing reports about your very own father.  But, instead of stating his name, the local anchor man (not a hair out of place) reputation, suddenly stated his name as “Daniel” when his name was “Donald.”  We were horrified that such simple fact checking was not performed and another indignity was visited upon us.

Reality Check…. Nowadays, the media is a very different animal ,where almost anything goes in the most exploitative manner.  Such a seemingly small detail is enough to send you over the edge when your entire world is collapsing…  Daniel, Donald, it still matters to me.  It was my father.

Final FIRST

If you will, picture us in a packed courtroom, “word weary” after listening to nearly three weeks of testimony.  At the end of the day, the public defender (“2nd chair”) imposes upon the court an unusual request.  It seems that the perpetrator is inconvenienced each day with the proceedings in that, by the time he returns to his cell, his dinner is cold.  So, would the court consider ordering that the defendant receive hot food, please????

I do not have to tell you his response…. Enough said!