Like many things in life, the build up is often greater than the event but then the event often grows in significance long after the occurrence. And so it was with the sentencing hearing.We awoke early,prepared much like we were going to a wedding or similar ceremony while Jay got himself ready for both school and soccer practice. He is quite the little man. With dueling GPS in hand we arrived in short measure at the impressive Jefferson County Courthouse complete with an over arching dome. As a total surprise to us, the couple first on the scene of the accident were there to greet us.They wanted us to know they attempted CPR but Aaron was dead upon impact. He was driving the right speed but didn’t even have time to apply the breaks. Before the man could exclaim a curse, the accident occurred. It was so special they took the time to be there for us.
In the court room the defendant’s lawyer repeatedly stated, I’m not trying to make an excuse but then went on to blame the dangerous intersection, the bushes, the … Then it was our turn. Grant, Alana, and Ali got up and gave emotional impact statements. I got up and decided to read mine, knowing that if I went off script, it would just be too emotional. I will attempt to put my statement in an attachment.
The boys, Alana and her mom, Ali, Lori and myself went for a 3 hour lunch. I didn’t want it to end, as always because it would mean getting back to reality. I love being around those guys,hearing and telling Aaron stories.But tomorrow I leave at o dark30. Tomorrow evening I will be back on the trail, content knowing we did our job, secure knowing the support we felt in the courtroom and around our world, and stronger knowing now it is time to walk, just walk.
These were my words: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. It was a warm breezy but sunny Sunday late afternoon. I was just finishing up the final details on a little rowboat that my grandson and I had built together when a Sergeant from our police department drove up. “Mr. Davidson?” “Yes”. “Can I talk with you and your wife?” “What is it”, I asked, “tell me,” I implored. “Mr. Davidson, I regret (obviously rehearsed but said with sensitivity and conviction) I regret to inform you that your son, Aaron was killed earlier today in a motor vehicle accident.” “No, what, he what?” He gave me a slip of paper with the number for the Medical Examiner and offered again to tell my Lori. “No,no, seeing a uniform will make it worse, I need to get up there before I fall apart. Thank you, I said you are very kind.” As he was walking away I wanted to chase him down, make him repeat it make sure I got it right. But I stared at the piece of paper and climbed the stairs. No Andy, no this can’t be happening she repeated over and over before collapsing to her knees and then to the floor where she pounded her tears into the hardwood. But she couldn’t pound hard enough, and the tears keep coming. No no this isn’t happening,” echoes in my ears.
But it did happen and days later we held our lifeless son in a funeral home before we tried to say goodbye. When we met with the Head DA, the Mr. Domingues, Mr. Koffka, and Mrs. Suman the Head DA said Mr. Davidson, we take these matters very seriously in Jefferson County and I can assure you we will get justice but you will not get satisfaction.
Yet God gave His son. This is what kept ringing in my ears. Why my son I kept asking, why. “Just turn to Jesus”, someone said. “Where was Jesus on the 27th?” I wanted to cast up. Well you are part of the club, my sister in law later remarked. I eventually came to realize God was part of the same club, gave his son, knowing he was going to die, felt the same emotion, hurt in the same places. I knew when I slipped on the ice carrying my infant son to church during his first winter, that when I fell and he was still cradled in my arms that I was only his steward and God had a different plan for this one.
I can forgive you Mrs. Thompson. I forgive you. You see hiking in the rain with tears rolling down my cheeks, I now know where Jesus was on the 27th. He was there, he lifted my son’s soul out of that mire, that one ton of twisted weapon we call a minivan and that bloody carnage and gently carried him home.
Hey boys, he would say, its kind of a weird world here, in a good way. I can finally pronounce his W’s. And now I have tomorrow, T. I’m fine, I’m forgiven and I forgive you, he would add.
For God so loved the word that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him
You see Mrs. Thompson didn’t kill his spirit ad she couldn’t take his soul. But she did take his life. Idle forever in our farmhouse attic is a pedal tractor, a homemade rocking horse, and a left handed catcher’s mitt waiting for his sons and daughters that will never be. Gone are the countless soccer games and archery lessons he gave to his nephew as a father figure. Gone. And for that there are consequences. You don’t get to choose your punishment, otherwise it wouldn’t be a punishment. Depending upon where you grew up you might get to choose your willow switch but it’s up to the father to decide the punishment and so that’s where we are today.
Thank you for finally pleading guilty, thank you for sparing us one less indignity. You can’t take away our pain but you can add to it. And by delaying and bargaining for a lesser sentence, it certainly did add to the pain. It began when I flew out here for the 1st hearing but out of convenience for the defendant’s lawyer, the meeting was prearranged the day before with the Judge unbeknownst to me. And the pain was increased when I flew out here a second time and sat across from an older woman dressed in a pink sweater only to have the pretrial conference delayed. It rarely is delayed more than two times but yet it was delayed a 3rd time, not to gather more evidence but for more time so the defendant could continue to drive a 2,000 pound weapon. We are here for a misdemeanor crime but we are here because someone died, and someone killed him. So to argue for 11 points on a driver’s license rather than 12 points diminished the value of my son to one point and was especially demeaning to me and my family. It was in the best interest of the lawyer and not his client.
After dropping her husband off at the golf course and waiting behind other cars, she could have stopped, could have looked twice, could have looked for all motorists, be it a car, a motorcycle or a child on a bicycle, and could have turned right instead of crossing 3 lanes of traffic, but chose to disregard the traffic and overestimated her abilities when drove in front of my son.
When we met with all of the DA’s in July we wanted only that the defendant to get up and state, I did it. That is what Aaron would have done, I know, I have seen him get up and state, “I did it, I am responsible”, many times in his brief life. The only thing we asked then and now is simply that she lose her license for one year. People lose their license for driving too fast so it was ludicrous to think in this case she should be deserving of less.
When we met with the head DA in July, I think he may have gotten it backwards. You see, whatever you decide today, your honor, will fall short of justice. True justice will not occur until we get our son back. But I can say I am satisfied. I am satisfied that Brian, Darren, and Patti, worked diligently, utilized their acumen, and especially displayed their personal concern for Aaron and for everyone he touched. For that we are grateful and satisfied.
On a remote mountain in the Appalachians, I read a solitary tombstone from the early 1900’s, it said, “Not dead, just Absent”. It’s just as true today. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting