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Tag Archives: Judicial Proceedings

Court Is In Session

Monday, August 14, 2017, court is in session, the honorable Judge LePage presiding. 

Court is an interesting experience in and of itself. From my perspective, at least on pretrial conference day, court is little more than an exercise in fine assessment and future scheduling.

The defendant is called. He or she stands before the judge who reads aloud the charges the prosecutor (who is not present) filed. The defendant is then asked if they understand the charges and asked how they plea. A guilty plea results in fine assessment or setting of a later trial date. A not guilty plea is followed by the defendants presentation of evidence of innocence. The charge is dismissed and the next defendant’s name is called. Basically it’s the equivalent of wash, rinse repeat over and over again. 
It’s enlightening and it’s sad. There are those who just couldn’t locate the necessary paperwork when they got pulled over for a traffic stop. Those who made downright dangerous choices. Those who were frankly told that they would be serving time. And those whose lives seemed to be riddled with one problem after another, be them of their own making or not.

Then there were those who came to lend support to the defendant. Parents, siblings, friends and children. That last one is heartbreaking to see. 

And then there was me. 

I had no business with the court and was not there to support another. No, I sat in my corner waiting to see what would become of the felony charge leveled against the man who was responsible for the accident that killed my daughters three and a half years earlier. I noticed all this as I sat on the back row in the far corner waiting with increasing anxiety every time the courtroom doors opened. 

Would it be him?

How would I feel the moment I laid eyes on him?

He entered the courtroom after the bailiff went in search of him. He glanced my way, then stood behind the podium before the judge. I don’t think he had any idea who I was. I wish I was blessed with the same ignorance. 

I was surprised when the initial charge read was a felony stalking charge. I knew he’d been arrested for stalking but didn’t realize that charge would be addressed today. Finally the judge read the charge I was interested in. Felony driving without a license. In the state of Missouri the first two citations are misdemeanor offenses; the third a felony. This was actually Troy Robins fourth offense. No mention was made of the fact that the defendant had been eligible to obtain a driver’s license for seven years. Two prior offenses were mentioned however, no mention was made of the fact that on the date of his third offense he caused an accident that resulted in two fatalities.

The judge asked if he had secured an attorney and the defendant responded that he wasn’t sure if he’d need one. The judge then pointed out that he was looking at a four year maximum sentence on each charge. 

Troy Robins volunteered the fact that he now had a driver’s license. I sat in stuptified wonder as the judge turned to a woman seated across the courtroom and asked if she intended to throw out the charge since he had acquired a driver’s license. I held my breath then exhaled in complete disbelief when she responded yes. I wasted no time in rising to my feet and exiting the courtroom. I couldn’t stomach anymore. Just what was the point of upgrading the charge to a felony only to throw it out? Color me not only disgusted but also confused.

I’m sure a driving without a license charge appears insignificant to the court in comparison to the stalking charge and a good number of other charges that I’m sure are routinely presented before the judge. I guess it’s a throw away charge deemed irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

I’m not sure what role that woman in the court served, but after recycling the events through my head repeatedly today, I concluded that she’s probably the prosecuting attorney’s clerk. I have learned that only the prosecutor can bring charges so I assume the prosecutor, or his proxy, are the only ones who can withdraw charges as well.

To say I’m shocked by the outcome of today’s proceedings is a bit of an understatement. I never expected the charge to be dismissed outright but thought it more likely that he’d be sentenced to little or no prison time instead. What’s sad is that had I not notified the city attorney that his name was misspelled and this was not his first offense on this charge, he would have at least been convicted of another misdemeanor and paid a paltry fine ($80).

Silly me, I honestly thought it was a God thing a few weeks back when I was told that the county prosecutor had agreed to take the case and prosecute the felony charge. I say that because I was able to notify the city prosecutor of the errors only one day before Troy Robins was scheduled to appear in court on the misdemeanor charge. The public docket indicated that several delays had occurred prior to that day. It felt as if God had allowed the whole thing to be strung out until the real crime he was guilty of could be discovered so that he would not escape justice yet again. But I guess that was an erroneous assumption on my part. Once more I found myself sitting by helplessly as justice slipped away. Could I have waved my hands and offered the court the pertinent information they seemed unaware of? I don’t know. Most of what I know about courtroom procedures comes from television and interrupting the proceedings is portrayed as a definite no, no.

I find myself filled with righteous indignation but beyond that I’m just numb. I had no desire to track Troy Robins through the parking lot and run him over with the wheelchair van we now need in part because of his actions. 

There is no fight left in me. 

Had Troy Robins been convicted and sentenced for driving without a license today I would have firmly believed it was a work of the Lord. But now? Not so much. I don’t hold God responsible for what transpired in that courtroom today, but I do assume He allowed it for a reason. Maybe just not one I cared to entertain.

When I discovered Troy Robins most recent ticket I asked for prayer on Facebook that the prosecutor would amend the charge. A local McDonald County resident or two shared the post which eventually made its way to some of his friends. As a result I found myself under attack. I was proclaimed pathetic, vindictive and bitter. I was accused of attempting to intentionally hurt someone who unintentionally hurt me. I was mocked as a hypocrite for the forgiveness I’d said on past blogposts I’d granted. I was maligned for failing to have compassion for the young man who struggles with feelings of guilt, self-medicates with drugs and had poor judgment because of his tender age of 19 at the time of the accident. I was accused of both stalking and harassment for accessing public arrest records.

Like any other human being my knee jerk reaction was one of angry defensiveness. I knew better than to respond to those allegations directly so instead I began writing responses that would never see the light of day. Round and round my mind circled over and over again. And when the dust settled a bit I turned inward and began to once again examine my heart. Is there any truth to the allegations that have been thrown at me, I asked myself.

I talked this through with a longtime friend and this is what I discovered. By and large my motives are pure. I sincerely want justice served – no more and no less. I want the citizens of McDonald County to be safe and had I not drawn the courts attention to the true status of Troy Robins’ record (having let it go as I’ve been encouraged repeatedly) I would have felt as if I shared responsibility for anyone he hurt thereafter having not been prosecuted because I knowingly did nothing. Today, having discovered he is a legally licensed driver, released me from any future concern in that regard. The state qualified him, the courts excused him and I can wash my hands of him. I am so glad that I can turn my back and refuse to consider him any longer.

But that’s not all I discovered.

I also found that there remained a corner of my heart that took spiteful pleasure in his predicament. Afterall, how hard is it to acquire a driver’s license? He really just shot himself in the foot by refusing to apply for a license. 

It hurts to think that this “God thing” might have been more about sussing out sin I was unaware my heart was harboring. It hurts to know that I needed to cycle through the process of repentance, if not forgiveness, once again. I didn’t want to go there, but I also don’t want to be a bitter, vengeful woman either. So last week I went about dragging my feet where I least wanted to venture again even if it is in my own best interest. I returned to that hollowed out place in my heart. The one where I acknowledge that God will assuredly ensure that justice is served but that I will likely never know, never see it, never experience the satisfaction on behalf of my daughters. I don’t feel angry about that – just deeply disappointed and utterly resigned to this thing I cannot change or control. I don’t want to hear about what will eventually come to pass. It is of little consolation for me today.

I cannot lie, today was a difficult day. I have only verbally spoken of it to David and Gracen. I have found it nearly impossible to even begin to process how I feel about God in the wake of today’s events. I really don’t want to go there, so I reverted to my standard internal debate escape method – sleep and fiction. That’s how my afternoon was spent. 

I had nothing to say when David initially walked through the door tonight, mail in hand. But moments later he handed me an unexpected card and letter that arrived in the mailbox this afternoon. It came from a former high school classmate of my husband’s, Erich Magruder and his wife Amy. They are no strangers to the heartache that results when life changes drastically in one single moment in time. And this is the message God prepared in advance for my hurting heart today via the concern of a friend who had only recently become aware of the deaths of our daughters. He reached out extending sympathy and hoping to catch up on the last 35 years of lives that have taken divergent paths:


“In the ever changing circumstances of life, There’s a faithful, never-changing God in control. Every day begins and ends with His purpose, every moment of our life is in His care. There isn’t a detail that escapes His eye, or a trial that doesn’t touch His heart.”

And inside the card:

“Praying you’ll be encouraged as you entrust your cares to Him today.”

That simple card reminded me that while I may not understand or even appreciate God’s ways – He is still faithful. He still sees. He doesn’t turn away when things get hard or go very, very badly. He bears witness to the trials that touch our lives. He lingers with the brokenhearted. 

I needed that today.

And it meant so much more coming from hearts that have sustained their own deep wounds. Talk is cheap, but not when the words, and the truth they reflect, have been torn from depths unsearchable. 

Not then. 

Those words, they are a sacrifice of praise, and they have been offered at great cost. 

They are precious words that shine brightly because they are what remains when the dross has been removed by the meticulous and patient efforts of the Refiner of Silver in the hearts of men.

Maybe tomorrow I can once again begin to reconcile my circumstances and my faith with the Word of God. But today, I will rest upon the encouragement of another. My heart is too hollow to do anything else.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in Adversity, Faith

 

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Record my Misery

Record my Misery

Record my misery . . . List my tears on your scroll. Psalm 56:8

Today marks a year and a half since Bethany and Katie were killed by the reckless actions of an unlicensed driver (a three-time offender by the age 19).

I wonder if Troy Robins, and the parents who failed to teach him to respect and obey the law, feel any responsibility at all? If Troy Robins feels any remorse for the destruction he’s wrought in our lives? I certainly haven’t received even a cursory apology.

I wonder if he suffers flashbacks from that day? Are his dreams filled with the hysterical sound of my voice as I discovered my daughters? Is he haunted by the image of Bethany’s broken neck, of Katie’s slashed forehead of the sound of Gracen wheezing as she struggled for breath with a collapsed lung? Does the image of the yellow plastic sheeting quickly draped over Bethany’s body remind him, like it does me, of the oversized trash bags my mother-in-law buys from the Boy Scouts annually. Can he imagine the message that image communicates to a Mother?

Do the sounds of sirens and flashing lights make him want to curl up in a ball and cover his ears to block out the sounds and sights? Do they make his heart race?

Does he wake up every morning dreading the day ahead and stay up late every night trying to stave off the dawning of the next day?

Does he find menial tasks, cleaning house, making meals, paying bills overwhelming like I do?

Does he have to respond to polite inquiries as to how he is doing? Does he feel like a bug under a microscope with everyone personally judging his actions based upon their own preconceived ideas?

Does he feel smug because he escaped prosecution for two felonies and paid less than $1,000 in fines while we paid tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills?

Does he feel guilty for stealing Gracen’s last days of independent mobility or prideful for his own lack of personal injuries? Is he still driving illegally today putting other law abiding citizens at risk?

Did the events of December 26, 2013, change him in any way, shape or form? They changed me. They haunt me. They traumatized me. They changed David and Gracen in tangible and intangible ways.

The images flash through my mind – sights and sounds from the roadside. Police, firefighters, paramedics, a neck brace, a backboard, the inside of the ambulance as it pulls away separating me from my sole surviving daughter.

Blue sky, bumpy ride, greeting and condolences from the charge nurse. WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER? IS SHE STILL ALIVE? Nurses, CT scan, chaplain. WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER? IS SHE STILL ALIVE? WHERE IS DAVID? WHERE IS O’RANE? HOW DO I REACH HIS FAMILY? WHERE ARE BETHANY AND KATIE? Doctors, nurses, prayer, stitches. Oversized scrubs.

Hospital waiting room. Bethany’s best friend and family. Our pastor, his wife, church friends, my in-laws. OH, NO, GRACEN IS ALONE! OH, GOD, WILL SHE DIE ALONE? Relief, Gracen is not alone. Family has arrived in Joplin.

Informing in-laws, family, Bethany’s boyfriend overseas . . . and Gracen – twice.

Chauffeured to Joplin cloaked in darkness. Squeezing David’s hand and whispering, “They knew they were loved.” Talking to my Dad. Emailing my three closest friends.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. Gracen still in surgery. The hush of the ICU. Gracen covered in bruises, stitches, staples, a neck collar, attached to a ventilator, an external fixator protruding from her leg, IV pushing fluids, antibiotics, pain killers, blood pressure cuff puffing up, tightening, releasing, chest tube, broken pieces of glass glistening in her hair, her life still in the balance. Beeps and blips, whooshing sounds. Pale skin, cold hands, no movement. David in a wheelchair, dry heaving. Alone with Gracen.

Family and friends coming and going day after day, night after night.

Media reports, pictures on TV, in print, phone calls, text messages, Facebook posts. . .

Pastor, funeral home director, decisions, caskets, flowers, music, Bible verses, pictures.

Following the ambulance to UAMS New Years Eve and into the wee hours of New Years Day. A quick stop at home. Sorting through debris left by the roadside, shattered electronics, cherished stuffed animals hugged close to my chest, inhaling Katie’s individual scent, never used or worn Christmas gifts.

Leaving Gracen behind, family and friends standing in line, hugs and tears, funeral, cemetery, dinner, long, dark drive back to Gracen.

Doctors, nurses, low lights, bright lights, anger, fear, pain, hallucinations. Latex allergy, surgery, more surgery, x-rays, oxygen, chest tube out, chest tube in, lost weight, bedpans, stitches and staples removed, leg immobilizer, wrist splint. Traumatic Brain Injury?

Meals, motel rooms, sharing daylight hours, trading nights between hospital and motel.

Bright blue sky, ambulance tail lights. Home. Gutted doorways, exposed foundation, hospital bed, belly shots, sponge baths, care aides, home health nurses, OT/PT, pressure sores and debridement.

Gracen passed out, incoherent, 911, firefighter, paramedics, ambulance, ER again.

Attorney calls, no charges filed, accident report, reconstruction report. No charges filed. Prosecutor’s re-election campaign. Legal research, uncommunicative, ineffective prosecutor. No charges filed. Coroner’s Inquest. Misdemeanor charges filed.

Hospital bills, doctors bills, bills from the radiologist, the ambulance companies, the life flight service – oh my word, $35,000 for the helicopter. Bills, bills, bills. Late notices. Calls from creditors, collection threats. Collection letters, collection calls. What happened to our once stellar credit rating? I don’t even want to know – to try restore our good name.

Crosses on the roadside, markers on graves. Court room. There he is, the man-child who killed our daughters. He, and his mother, immediately turn away. Why am I not surprised? A shocking not guilty plea. We have to come back to court again. A defiant guilty plea. A slap on the wrist days after Christmas a full year after the collision.

Constantly churning thoughts, injustice, politics. Beliefs and faith challenged, relationships stretched, strained, damaged. Hard truths, platitudes, admonitions. Lack of forgiveness? Vengeance or justice demanded? Pity party? Choose joy. Praise God. It will be OK. God is in control. Was not God in control that day? Am I supposed to feel that what happened was OK? Is the measure of my faith dependent upon my ability to embrace my daughter’s deaths? Is worship and counting this trial joy for the spiritual maturity it will develop suppose to blunt or even erase the pain?

Tension, anxiety, restlessness, pharmaceuticals. Relief?

Round and round and round we go – fear and fatigue, shock and resignation. Sorrow. Lost hopes, lost dreams, unfulfilled expectations. No graduations, engagements or weddings for Bethany and Katie. Lost grandchildren. Lost identity. Lost purpose. Lost future.

How are you? Fine (Freakin’ Insane Needing Extraction). How are things? Good (Going On Only Downward). Oh, yes, I’m fine, things are good. We have new floors, new doorways, new paint – empty bedrooms. How could we be anything but grateful?

What has Troy Robins lost? We’ve paid the price for his sins. Did it cost him anything other than a few measly dollars pulled from his parents pockets?

On and on the questions race as the images flash. So very tired. So very disappointed. So very broken. So very lost. Head pounding, heart flayed open longing to be validated instead of feeling criticized and being placated. Simultaneously thankful for God’s provision, for eyes unveiled to see His care amidst the destruction. Does anyone realize sorrow and gratitude are not mutually exclusive?

When I long to flee His presence (because His will supersedes my dreams and plans), the Psalmist reminds me there is no place I can go where He is not – a highly frustrating consolation. When I feel forsaken, red letters remind me of the comforter who quietly resides within – forever present – never alone. When Satan taunts and condemns, I feebly try to strap on the full armor of God.

Faith built in the past is the foundation upon which I huddle in a fetal position as the storm continues to rage upon me. I may be beaten and battered, broken, lost and even despairing, but there is a firm foundation beneath. While I no longer believe I will not suffer more hurt and loss in this life, I remain fully confident of the only hope I am truly promised – my eternal future with the Savior who paid for my sins.

While some may accuse me of throwing a first class pity party, I choose to believe that in sharing Christ’s sufferings I am glorying in Him (see Romans 8:17).

Do we not rehearse Christ’s sufferings every spring? Do you think Christ’s spiritual and emotional sufferings paled in comparison to His physical sufferings? Do we downplay or elevate the fact that Christ endured betrayal and abandonment by His friends and disciples for the joy set before Him? That He took our sin and shame upon Himself for our eternal good? Does your heart not break as you picture Him crying out in desperation and despair from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Is not Good Friday about counting the cost? Is it wrong for this broken mother to do the same?

(Facebook Post 6/26/15)

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Faith, Grief

 

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A Sad Commentary on the Judicial System

A Sad Commentary on the Judicial System

This is exactly how we felt regarding the prosecution of Troy Robins who killed our daughters:

“We didn’t want him (Aksamit) to go to jail for a long time,” Kent Sanders said. “But this punishment is meaningless and raises our biggest fear that something like this could happen again.” “Sanders (a son of the deceased couple) added that his family took no solace in being allowed to speak at the sentencing, which he described as “a completely meaningless and irrelevant exercise of emotion.”

“But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t powerful”, Donald Bradley, reporter for The Kansas City Star wrote. “Diane Packingham, who was in Richard Sanders’ Sunday school class, carried a Macy’s sack to the front of the courtroom, set it on the floor and pulled out a pair of boots and shoes.”

“These were the shoes they were wearing that day and now they’re empty,” Packingham said to Aksamit. “And now they’re empty because of you.

“I recommend that you fill them. You volunteer at the charity breakfasts in Freeman.”

Read the full article here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article18524930.html#storylink=cpy

It’s wrong when the judicial system slaps the hands of the unrepentant and fails to hold accountable those who have no respect for the authority of the law. The message it sends these offenders is that the law doesn’t apply to them and it further undermines the laws everyday citizens abide by and value while re-victimizing families who expect the perpetrators to be punished – seeking justice; not vengeance.

This is a shameful reflection of our judicial system because it puts law abiding citizens at risk while simultaneously reinforcing illegal behavior.

(Facebook Post 4/15/15)

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Courting Disaster

(Originally Published on Facebook 12/29/14)
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Images left to right: Judge John R. LePage, McDonald County Prosecutor Jonathan Pierce, and Troy Robins of Pineville, Missouri

Following Troy Robin’s not guilty plea on December 1st, I’ve agonized over whether or not to change the statement I’d prepared to read before the court. It represented my one and only chance to say, in this young man’s hearing, anything I wanted him to know. Ultimately I decided that I really don’t have anything to say to him personally. Not one word. There’s a verse in Proverbs I think, that says something along the lines of not wasting your words on those who will simply not receive them. Sorry I don’t have the reference, and my paraphrase is rather pitiful, but I think it applies to this situation. However, since I knew the judge had already read the first statement I wrote, which focus almost solely on sentencing considerations, decided I might as well take advantage of the opportunity to reinforce my case. So this morning – nothing like waiting until the last minute right? – I rewrote most of my statement. I simply felt as if we have nothing to lose.

Nothing about today’s court proceedings had anything to do with justice for Bethany and Katie. All that was left to fight for was the safety of the community in which Troy Robins resides. A Missouri State Highway Patrol Officer, a Pineville Marshal, the McDonald County Prosecutor, and the Crime Victim’s Advocate, all individuals with far more court knowledge and experience than we have, told us that the judge will not sentence anyone to jail time for a misdemeanor. The law enforcement officials blamed the overcrowded jail situation. So I thought I might as well quit tap dancing around that issue and frankly, albeit respectfully, address it. I seriously doubt anything I did or didn’t say today would have made any difference whatsoever.

The judge, John R. LePage, sentenced Troy Robins to a suspended six month jail term (meaning that he will not go to jail unless he fails to comply with the rest of the sentence) and a $500 fine plus court costs which I think amounted to about $60. He has a month to pay his fine. The judge stated the reason he was not sentencing the defendant to jail time was because the the other driver involved in the collision that day was speeding. In other words, the accident would not have happened had the other driver not been speeding.

Having turned that explanation over in my mind all afternoon, I find myself at a loss. Maybe I just don’t understand the law – no big surprise there. I thought the purpose before the court today was to sentence the defendant for his reckless driving, not to determine who was and wasn’t at fault for the collision. It was my understanding that fault had been determined before charges had ever been filed.

From my perspective, the second driver’s speed should have been just as irrelevant before the court as we were told our daughters’ deaths were. They were “just” tragic collateral damage completely extraneous to the reckless driving charge before the court. The fact that the second driver was speeding has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Troy Robins has been found guilty and fined for ten separate traffic and criminal offenses over the last 20 months. The second driver’s speed has nothing to do with the fact that three of those ten citations were for driving without a license – the third of which is a felony offense – for which he escaped punishment due to careless misspelling of his last name. The second driver’s speed has nothing to do with the fact that Troy Robins has four separate citations for drug related offenses, two of which were earned after the “accident” that killed my daughters. The second driver’s speed doesn’t in any way make Troy Robins record any less reflective of a total and complete lack of respect for the authority of the laws of McDonald County and the state of Missouri.

The point I was trying to communicate with my statement today was not just that Troy Robins was an unlicensed driver, but rather the fact that he was unlicensed and unrepentant about it which reflects a much bigger problem. It reflects a problem with authority. Particularly a problem submitting to the authority of the law that citizens within a community must respect if we are to avoid anarchy. We have laws to protect the rights of all citizens. When one person feels as if they don’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else, and when prosecutors and judges fail to punish that attitude and the resulting behavior and uphold the law, those prosecutors and judges undermine the law they swore to uphold and soon you have more and more people openly flaunting the fact that they don’t have to follow societies rules.

I have struggled mightily with the fact that God not only allowed Troy Robins to kill two of my daughters and critically injure the third, leaving her struggling to regain the mobility she enjoyed prior to the crash an entire year later, but also that He has allowed this individual to walk away without any real consequences, while we have been impacted spiritually, emotionally, and financially.

Yet today, is not really an emotionally devastating day for us. We came to terms with the disappointment today’s sentence represents over the course of the last nine to ten months as it became plain to us that the legal system would not provide justice for us.

I’ve always been confident that God would get justice for Bethany, Katie and Gracen even if the courts failed us. I simply stubbornly clung to the desire to see it play out in court. I may not be happy that David and I were denied that satisfaction and resignation may be the best word to describe how we feel about that, but I remain confident that God will not only get justice for my girls but will also hold accountable anyone who failed to do justly in a position that God Himself appointed them to here on earth.

So all I have to say in response to the judge’s sentence and explanation for it is, “Whatever . . .”, as in, Whatever allows you to sleep at night. . . Anyway, it’s over and done with and we can move on to the next hurdle.

As I said earlier, the fight David and I took on today was not about justice for our girls but about public safety. Therefore, in the interest of protecting the citizens of McDonald County, I want to pass on a little information that I uncovered regarding Missouri law. Feel free to verify it with your local Constable! If I understood the law correctly, an individual convicted of Careless & Imprudent Driving looses his driver’s license for a year. So, I assume that means Troy Robins can no longer legally drive with the driver’s permit he acquired in March of this year. My suggestion to the good people of McDonald County is to keep your eyes peeled and notify the highway patrol if you see him driving.

Sadly, it’s in your best interest not to contact your local Marshal (who are awesome and dedicated law enforcement officers) because Missouri passed a strangely flaky law a few years back that requires that all three driving without a license citations be issued by the state in order for them to constitute a felony charge. Two issued by the state and one issued by a municipality will result in yet another misdemeanor and a dangerous driver will remain free to get behind the wheel again and again and will pay no more than a $100 fine to the court ($80.50 to be exact). Maybe your local Marshal will be willing to call in a highway patrolman to issue the ticket in the interest of making your community safer! Best wishes to the citizens of McDonald County!

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Inquest Results

(Originally Published on Facebook 10/23/14)
trobins2 The jury at the Coroner’s Inquest today recommended that the McDonald Country Prosecutor file a Careless & Impudent Driving charge against Troy Robins, the driver who hit our van. A speeding ticket will be issued to Roger Wilson, the driver who struck the vehicle Robins’ was driving. The Prosecutor, Jonathan Pierce, is not inclined to issue a ticket to Troy’s father, David Robins, for allowing an unlicensed driver to use his vehicle. Since Troy Robins has been ticketed three times for driving without a license, I can’t imagine either one of his parents are not culpable for both their son’s actions and the consequences of those actions. Suffice it to say, the Prosecutor and I do not see eye to eye on this issue.

It is possible that Troy Robins will plead guilty at his arraignment in order to avoid trial. The arraignment should be scheduled within a weeks time.

Although the judge could sentence Troy Robins to a year of jail time and/or a $1000 fine, we have been assured that will not happen as the jails are over-crowded. In some cases the fine is suspended in exchange for public speaking engagements to teens regarding safe driving.

David, Gracen and I appreciate your prayers on our behalf, the notes of encouragement, phone calls and expressions of love more than I could ever adequately express with mere words. A simple “thank you” will have to suffice, although it is far from adequate.

The Cast of Characters:

McDonald County Coroner – BJ Goodwin
Coroner

McDonald County Prosecuting Attorney – Jonathan Pierce
PierceJ

The Accussed – Troy Chance Robins of Pineville, Missouri
trobins

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Dread & Anticipation

(Originally posted on Facebook 10/11/14)
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The next three months are filled with the dreaded firsts that the bereaved anticipate with trepidation – birthdays, holidays, and the anniversary of the death itself. Having previous experience grieving the loss of a child, I have found that for me personally, the anticipation of the holiday or anniversary, is often worse than the day itself. Even so, while that means the holiday or anniversary is bearable, the days leading up to them are generally characterized by an undercurrent of sadness. It’s a time where emotions normally tamped down bubble to the surface far more easily resulting in anxiety, primarily regarding the ability to keep my emotions in check in public settings. Therefore, the most notable manifestation of my anxiety will likely be a silent withdrawal from unnecessary activities.

Such an absence does not signal the inability to cope with grief in a healthy manner, but rather a desire for both privacy and an awareness that a display of emotions often makes others very uncomfortable.

In addition to the normal grief triggers the upcoming months hold, on the 23rd of this month, just four days after what would have been Katie’s 17th birthday, the first of the criminal legal proceedings begin. The McDonald County Prosecuting Attorney has convened a Coroner’s Inquest. Inquests are rare legal proceedings. A jury of six is selected and witnesses are called to testify.

The purpose of an Inquest is to determine cause of death when death occurs under suspicious circumstances or by violence. The jury decides if the death was natural, accidental, suicide or murder and if “culpable conduct” contributed to the death. Proving a “culpable mental state” is required in order to gain a conviction for involuntary manslaughter. The jury’s decision as a result of the Inquest will determine if the Prosecutor will file misdemeanor or felony charges against the driver responsible for the accident.

The attorney who is handling the civil litigation (our personal attorney), has told us he expects misdemeanor charges will ultimately be filed and that we can realistically expect the court case to be completely resolved before the end of the year.

So, the next three months will likely be emotional and somewhat stressful. While I know God has a purpose and a plan, that He will see us through every birthday, holiday, the anniversary of the girl’s deaths and the prosecution and sentencing of those responsible, I am also painfully aware that my thoughts are not His thoughts and that His ways are not my ways.

God’s goals are in many ways far more simplistic than mine. His highest priorities involve reaching and redeeming the lost, and conforming the saved into the image of Christ, which sometimes involves time spent on the Potter’s wheel and/or in the Refiner’s fire.

I, on the other hand, AM NOT HOLY! While I too am interested in the salvation of the lost and being conformed into the image of Christ, those goals, if I’m completely honest, are not always, and maybe not even frequently, at the top of my priority list. I am distracted by worldly things, worldly hopes and dreams and sometimes I rebel against or even resent the means God uses to achieve His goals (I’ve heard that still small voice whisper, “Janet, why do you kick against the pricks?”), and sometimes I simply acknowledge His plans with little more than weary, disappointed, resignation; which I guess most accurately expresses how I have viewed the circumstances I have found myself thrust into over the last nine months.

In spite of how I personally feel about God’s most recent intrusion into my . . . Uh, I mean, in spite of how I personally feel about the means God has chosen to achieve His goals (which I believe extend beyond my immediate family), I am completely confident that the Holy Spirit is actively performing a spiritual work within me that God highly values. And one day I will value it too.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Faith, Grief

 

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