Today, August 19, 2014, was supposed to be the start of the trial - well actually the first few days were to be the finalization of jury selection with the actual trial starting right after that (Friday or Monday). From March 15, 2013 until last month when Richard Ryan Laubach pled guilty we have been preparing for this day. Granted there were a couple of trial dates set and extensions given but this was always the path we were on. But now today is just another day.
In some aspects it feels like we were robbed of what we were marching towards - while his pleading guilty is a great thing in many aspects - I know I for one struggle with the fact that there is now no trial. The bastard drug this out for so long, KNOWING he was guilty, KNOWING he was putting our family through hell and then as we get close enough to actually feel like we are going to get our day in court he changed his plea because he knew he didn't stand a chance in trial.
Yes the trial would have been extremely hard to deal with, to see those pictures, to listen to the experts go into detail of ALL of the injuries Joey suffered, to listen to the defense try and convince the jury it was an accident, etc. But we also would have gotten to see 12 people listen to this case, see EVERYTHING not just what has been released to the public to date and watch as the verdict was read. Yes I know there was always a chance they would come back with a Not Guilty verdict but realistically, knowing everything we know, knowing the TRUTH of injuries and things that took place I have no doubt in my mind the verdict would have been Guilty.
On the other hand, by him changing his plea to Guilty there are no grounds for appeals because there was no trial and because he admitted guilt. Although the guilt he admitted to in court made me furious, still trying to play it off as an accident. REALLY? Yeah, so you were playing with Joey and he accidentally fell and that is how he died but you are going to admit to First Degree Murder! Hmmm, what's wrong with that picture? (lots)
Last week we celebrated my granddaughter's second birthday and it was such a treat to watch her get so excited about the people there and watching her reaction to our singing Happy Birthday and the joy of opening presents. But throughout the party I would catch myself looking at her and wondering what Joey would be doing at this party. And thinking about how there are still unopened birthday presents in the garage because his second birthday was just two months away when he was so brutally taken from us.
The sentencing hearing is a month from today and I have to prepare a Victim's Impact Statement to read at that hearing. To tell the Judge how the murder of my grandson has affected me, my seven year old son, my family. How he robbed us of such a sweet. precious little boy to watch grow up. In trying to put my words down on paper I realized that I could not work on it at night after my son went to sleep because then the nightmares started back up and in full swing like the days and weeks following Joey's death. So now I work on it during the day when my little one is at school. It doesn't make things easier but it does help the nightmares because it's not the last thing I was doing before going to sleep.
The hardest part of writing this statement is there is so much - so many feelings, so much anger, so much pain. How do you put it down into words that you can then stand in front of a courtroom full of people and read it to the judge? But it is a necessity and while I know that both Erin and I are struggling with writing these it will also help each of us to get it down on paper and then get the chance to speak it in the courtroom. The judge has seen me sitting in the "audience" for every hearing, she has heard Erin speak during the Preliminary Hearing and watched her sitting in the the "audience" at all the other hearings. But now we will get to have a voice in the case finally.
Our worlds have forever changed and even after the sentencing is over and done life will not return to "normal". We are still struggling to find our new "normal". Death is difficult no matter who or how. My father died from leukemia, my mother died a few years later of many health issues. It was difficult to adjust for a while to them being gone. I had a still born child many many years ago and that took quite some time to come to terms with. I have lost friends and other family members over the years, each one coming with it's own surge or emotions. I am 51 years old and always considered myself pretty rock solid, a strong woman. I still am....most of the time. But to feel the pain, the anger....I can't even put it into words how it feels....I don't feel so strong or rock solid many days and nights. I see a little boy about Joey's age, with hair and features similar to his and I feel that twinge in my heart and my eyes begin to swell with tears. I am turned in an instant from a good mood and being productive to a blubbering, shaking, emotional wreck because a picture pops up on my computer, or a certain song comes on, or I see certain toys (or the unopened birthday presents). I suffer from depression now, something that I never had to deal with before - oh sure I could get down in the dumps but I would pull myself out of it and march on...I couldn't do that without help this time. I suffered my first panic attack a couple of months ago. This is our world now, I'm a grandma missing her grandson. I'm a mom mourning over the loss of her daughter because a piece of her died that day as well.
And soon we will let Joey's story be told because Joseph Wayne Graham III lived, he was a son, he was a grandson, he was ready to be a big brother, he was a nephew and a cousin. He was a joy to our family and he will always be loved and missed.
So get down on the floor and play with the children in your life, see the world from their view, walk slowly with them and enjoy every minute you have with them. Relish in their accomplishments, watch as they feel a new texture and laugh at the funny things they do and say. And when you think about it, give them an extra hug for this grandma.