On Thursday, January 14, 2016 the Idaho Supreme Court upheld the sentencing for Richard Ryan Laubach. In April 2015 Mr. Laubach set forth a motion with the Idaho Supreme Court because a previous appeal for a change in his sentence was denied at the District Court.
Feeling brokenhearted tonight. Why do so many children have to suffer at the hands of people that are supposed to care for them????
It's nearly Christmas and I'm struggling with the "holiday spirit" once again. Two years and nine months have passed by since the day I listened to your Mommy trying to tell me something had happened to you. That phone call haunts my mind and my heart every day. Some days are easier than others and most days I just don't let others see the hurt and pain I am in.
Two years ago today I was busy packing and cleaning, preparing for our departure to Texas in a week. It was to be the start of a new life for me and my young son, Aiden. A new adventure, a new start. I was dressed in grubby clothes as I busied around the house, final cleaning of the laundry room, pulled the stove out into the middle of the kitchen so I could clean under and behind it. There it sat while I slipped on a pair of broken down moccasins and headed out to pick my son up from school. Next on the list of things to do, get haircuts for both of us then grab some pizza for dinner, because we sure weren't cooking at our house that night - the kitchen was torn apart.
When we went into the salon I silenced my phone, the last time we were here it kept ringing and I didn't want to deal with that again. Thirty minutes later we emerge and we get into the car to go get some pizza. After getting my boy buckled in the car I sat down and picked up my phone to turn the ringer back on. Three missed calls from Erin. One right after another. My heart began to race, a grin spread across my face and the thoughts raced through my head..."We're going to have a baby!" See, Erin was 8 1/2 months pregnant with her second child. My fear had been that she would not give birth until after we left for Texas and of course this grandma wanted to be there for the birth of another grandchild. I buckled up, backed out of the parking lot and called her back as we got on the road. My heart still racing with excitement.
Life changed with the first sound of Erin on the other end of the phone. My excitement ended instantly and panic filled my entire being. That first phone call is forever imbedded in my memory. Never have I heard one of my children so filled with fear, the only thing I could comprehend was something about Joey being hurt, not responding and being flown to Boise. I was an hour away from Erin, but only 20 minutes from Boise, so we headed to the hospital.
After waiting for what seemed to be an eternity Erin and Ryan arrived at the hospital. I knew the moment the nurse asked Ryan to leave the room so the doctors could talk to us that whatever was wrong he had done it. He was the cause for my grandson to be injured. My son Stan arrived just before the doctors came in. The three of us listened as they told us of Joey's condition. No brain activity. Severe fracture to his head. Not caused by a simple fall.
Then Erin and I were escorted back to the room where Joey was. Police in the hallway, police in his room. As I turned the corner a former co-worker of mine appeared, he realized that the baby in the room was my grandson and his eyes filled with teas as he reached out for me.
So tiny, so precious, our sweet sweet boy. Life as we knew it was gone. Joey was gone.
Over the past several weeks I spent my Tuesday mornings at the Elmore County Prosecutor's Office going through the case file for the murder of my grandson Joey. A lot of it made me mad, a lot of made me sad, a lot of it made cry but it was something I had to do for myself, for my peace of mind, to know everything there was to know.
There has never been one second of doubt in my mind that Ryan Laubach brutally murdered my grandson. Going through the case file, listening to audio recordings, watching videos of interviews, reading reports and looking at countless pictures, I cannot understand how someone could do something so horrific to a small, innocent, 22 month old child. Why? What could he have possibly done to cause this kind of beating to his small little body.
Did you even pause to reconsider what you were doing when he was clawing with his tiny fingers to try and remove your hands from his throat? In the numerous times you changed your story as to what happened that day did you once consider that none of your stories could explain the bruises, cuts and other injuries to the front of his head and body?
For all those people that continuously check this blog to see what I have written and that leave comments such as "Give it a rest already" - I pray that someday you will come to understand the truth. The injuries that Joey sustained were in no way, shape or form caused by an accidental fall to the floor from 1) being tossed in the air from a seated position on the couch, 2) beign tossed in the air from a seated position on the floor, 3) falling/jumping off the couch and hitting the floor, 4) falling/jumping off the couch and hitting the coffee table, 5) falling/jumping off the coffee table and hitting the floor or any other scenario of falling. I also pray that you never have to live through the loss of a child or through the murder of someone you love.
I am angry today. I am sad today. I am missing my grandson today...and every day.
It shouldn't hurt to be a kid.
Let's "Light Up the Night for Joey" on March 12th and 13th! Turn on your porch lights those two nights and show Joey how much he is loved! You can join us and share pictures of your lights on our Facebook Event here -- https://www.facebook.com/events/1400154340294247/
Some people may wonder why these two nights - A quick explanation - On March 12, 2013 my grandson Joey W. Graham III was brutally beaten by his step-father. Joey was flown to Boise and we were informed that there was no brain activity, life support was keeping our baby boy alive. On March 13, 2013 after the second series of brain death tests were completed our beautiful Joey was officially declared deceased. So to honor him we want to light up the sky on both nights.
While I normally do not address anyone on here that supports and defends the actions of the monster that murdered my grandson I will take a moment to say this - If you come to this Facebook Event page and try to start one iota of problems I will obtain your IP address and report you to the police. This is not about anyone or anything other than remembering a very sweet and innocent little boy.
This year has been full of ups and downs, tears and laughter, heartache and heart touching times but we have made it through it. Joey's precious memory, his smile, his laugh, his funny antics, and his infamous "shupp" live on with us in our minds, in our hearts, in pictures and videos. But nothing takes away from the fact that once again we face this holiday without him. I have had many blessings this past week and am so incredibly thankful to those who did these amazing things for us, and praise God above for bringing these blessings upon us but the sadness, the pain, the inability to get excited about this holiday remains.
As many of you know my seven year old son has many mental health issues, all which were overwhelmingly escalated by Joey's death. Recently there was a "Stranger Danger" drill at his school - even though he knew it was a drill he couldn't handle it, his mind told him that Ryan got out of jail and was there to get him, to hurt him like he hurt Joey. Thank God for the staff at his school, his teacher and the school psychologist, that got him through it. This fear, this pain, this sadness ripples through all of us, some days worse than others but not a day goes by that we don't feel that pain, miss that smile, long to hear that laugh.
So here we are, Christmas Eve 2014. Joey's little brother is growing by leaps and bounds and learning so much. But each time I look at him I wonder what it would like in that home with the two boys playing together, getting into things together, and growing together.
The loss of a loved one is a pain no one can explain, we each feel it in different ways, we grieve in different ways, we find comfort in different ways, we cope in different ways, but it doesn't mean we forgot, or we aren't sad, or that we don't care - because really - do we talk about it openly? No we don't. And others don't know what to say except "sorry" and that's OK because really, what else can we be but sorry for their pain, for their sorrow.
One of my ways of dealing with Joey's murder is to write in this blog. To put down what is in my heart.
This is in my heart tonight: My children - Lawrence, Crystal, Stan, Melissa, Erin and Aiden - I will always be there for you and I pray that you know this. We may not have the relationships we have had in the past, we may not see or speak much but there isn't a day that goes by that I do not pray for you and your families and wish you nothing but the best. I love you all beyond what words I can find to put down here.
My remaining grandchildren, even those I do not know, Ethan, Jacob, Bonnie, Reece, Mason, Brenton, Jadon, Kayley, Augustus and Lily - I love each of you so very much, you each are a huge piece of my heart. (I need a Grandma shirt for all these grandkids LOL). While I may not see you often, or may have never met you, you will always be a part of who I am.
For my grandson Joey, you were a solid piece of sunshine in my heart. No matter what you were doing, even when you said "Shupp" to me you made me giggle. There is a piece of my heart that was shattered and ripped from my chest the day you were taken from us, it remains tattered and bruised but it is held together by the memories of you. Not a day goes by that I do not think of you, that I do not ask God to hug you for me. I look forward to the day that I can hug you once again.
There are many things I want to write about, many things that are not pretty, that are not so calm, that are harsh and difficult but I will leave those for another time.
For tonight - take a moment to say a prayer for those kids that can't speak for themselves, that suffer and hurt, and then please hug your little ones, play with them, enjoy this holiday and give thanks for their health and their happiness. Remember, it's not what is under the tree that matters.
I haven't posted here in some time. Trying to come to terms with the sentencing, being able to grieve finally without court cases hanging over our heads and helping my young son get all the services he is entitled to have kept me away from posting here.
Originally I was just going to post the following on Facebook but decided to write a post instead.
Comments have been made in the recent days/weeks to the tone of "it's been a year and a half, time to move on" and other things. SERIOUSLY???
So does this mean that since the murderer has been sentence to prison (although still waiting for him to actually be transferred to said prison) we should just be done and over with everything? Just pack up all things related to Joey, all pictures, memories, etc and put him on a shelf and forget it?
You see, one does not simply "move on" when their child (or for me - grandchild) dies. On top of the grief from his death is the added trauma that someone that was supposed to care for him, someone that was supposed to be a husband, a son-in-law, an uncle, a brother-in-law, someone that was trained to save lives and protect others,etc beat our Joey to death.
There is no "moving on"!
There is time
There is grief
There is sorrow
There is depression
There is anxiety
There is fear
There is lack of trust
There is so much
But there is no "moving on"
As years go by his death will not be as hard to deal with as it is now but it will always be a part of his mother's life, his little brother's life, of my life, my young son's life. His death was tragic. The behavior of the murderers family appalling, and the attitudes of many mind blowing. Yes over time things will get "easier" (for a lack of better words) to deal with, but the pain will always be there and he will forever be a part of our lives.
Today I began the process of going through the case file with the amazing Nicole at the Elmore County Prosecutor's Office. She sat by my side the entire day. We talked, we got angry together, we cried together and we laughed together.
So next time you want to say "Move On" to someone that has gone through a horrific experience - please don't. It's like telling that person that what they went through doesn't matter any more.
JOSEPH WAYNE GRAHAM III WILL ALWAYS MATTER!
Be kind to one another, play with your children, hug them tight, tell them you love them and help them grow, learn and thrive!
On Friday, September 19, 2014 my family and many friends gathered at the Elmore County Courthouse for the final hearing in our journey for Justice for Joey.
It was wonderful to see so many people travel to Mountain Home to be beside us for this day. And to know so many others from the valley and across the country were with us in spirit. The most amazing sight to see for this Grandma though was seeing all the officers - Mountain Home Police Department and the two officers from Ada County Sheriff's Department come into the courtroom. Our Angels in Uniform. I never got a chance to talk to or hug the Ada County officer who was such an amazing gentle soul at the hospital, helping my daughter through her first sight of Joey at St. Alphonsus, for standing guard for hours outside Joey's room at St. Luke's. I hope to hug each and every officer involved in this case eventually and to thank them. And the other wonderful sight was to see Candy Man - an incredible man with a heart of gold from Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA).
There was a potential that the sentencing would get delayed because of a request made by the Pre Sentence Investigator, however the Judge decided that she was not going to order that request. So we knew very early into the day that we would have a sentence handed down that day! Justice was close!!!!
After some administrative items that needed to be handled, a discussion from the judge to the people in the gallery as to how the day would go and her sincere conversation to both families (while she tried to contain her own emotions) the day got under way.
Tina, our amazing Prosecutor, called only one witness - Detective Nelson of the Mountain Home Police Department. A family friend, a great police officer and a man that took time away from his own family situation to be there in court for Joey and Erin. It broke my heart and made this Grandma want to just go up and hug him while he was testifying and looking at two pictures of Joey laying on the living room floor that awful day.
The Defense put on (I believe the final count was:) 17 character witnesses! One by one they were sworn in and got on the stand to talk about Mr. Laubach and his good nature, never aggressive, never having a temper, so kind hearted and helpful to everyone. Loved everyone, great with kids, great with animals, and had such an incredible bond with Joey. Was so great with Joey. Loved Joey as his own son. On and on and on and on and on.................................. yes it dragged on from early morning to the lunch hour, broke for lunch and then started back up again at 1:00 for the last six character witnesses.
But because these people were sworn in and were placed on the stand as witnesses this meant that the Prosecutor got to cross examine them if she so desired. And she did desire to do just that on some of them. And when she did ask "just a couple" questions she rocked it! Such a pro, it was amazing to watch her in action.
It was hard to watch and listen to a lot of the testimonies given because they were all working for the same script, saying the same things over and over again and taking their opportunity to look directly at Mr. Laubach and say "I love you" or "We're so proud of you". I get it, I really do, this is their family member, their friend, and he's going to prison. But it wasn't the "Richard Ryan Laubach, A Star is Born" show. IT WAS A SENTENCING HEARING FOR A CHILD MURDERER!
I did feel compassion and my heart hurt for the grandparents as they took the stand and spoke about their grandson. While listening to them my heart hurt even more because they only know what they have been told by Mr. Laubach's parents. So of course they believe it was a tragic accident. And the same for all those other people filling up their side of the courtroom. But I also wondered, when Tina made her argument for sentencing would any of these people soak it in and take a step backwards, realizing what they have been told for the last 18 months versus what they heard in court about Joey's injuries were vastly different? I don't think we'll ever know.
Mr. Laubach's parents were the last two to testify. I won't go into details of either of their testimony but let me say this of Mrs. Laubach's testimony, both while being questioned by the Defense Attorney and by the Prosecutor, I cannot fathom how any parent could make their other child, the one NOT being sentenced to prison for murdering a child, as the evil seed. To place blame on that son for everything negative that was said about Ryan. My heart ached for Ryan's brother while listening to her trying to place blame on him over and over again. School records must have gotten mixed up, Ryan would never do something like that, it must have been the "other" Laubach kid, they were confused. I was shocked and sad.
The defense finally rested - it was now after 2 p.m., we took a short recess and then it would be my and Erin's turn on the stand - not as witnesses, but to read our victim impact statements. It was overwhelming and difficult to listen to Leanna and Richard Laubach testify, thank God we were given a little time to calm down and prepare ourselves to get up and read our statements.
I have never been more proud of my daughter then that moment she sat on the stand and read her statement to the Judge. I know it was one of the hardest things she has had to do since saying goodbye to her son. But she did it, she got through it, with tears and emotions overflowing she did it, for herself and for Joey!! And then holy smokes now I had to wipe the tears and go read mine! Through my tears and a throat that felt like it had been rubbed with the roughest sandpaper ever made I read my statement. Looking primarily at the Judge, but also to our amazing Prosecutor Tina and a couple of times to my daughters, son and daughter-in-law. When I sat down I felt the comfort of the Lord wrapping his arms around me and giving me the ability to speak.
Did our pain and destroyed lives come through? Did the Judge understand how this man while yes admitting guilt by pleading guilty to First Degree Murder still took no real accountability for his actions and causing severe injuries to our Joey. Not just tossing him in the air and one time he fell and hit his head and died. Not one time Joey fell from the arm of the couch and hit his head and died. Not one time Joey jumped off the coffee table, or the arm of the couch and fell and hit his head and died. Not one time that Ryan was holding him and Joey jumped backwards out of his arms and fell and hit his head and died. See these are some, but no means all, of the stories Ryan gave to what happened to cause Joey to die.
After Erin and I gave our statements the Prosecutor - the wonderful and amazing Tina, stood up and addressed the court. So composed and direct. She was impressive to say the least. She spoke of Joey's injuries - not one impact to the back of his skull but three -- THREE distinct impacts to the back of his skull, the brain stem severed, the swelling of his brain, the severe damage to his retinas, the bruises to his hips, his back, his abdomen, his rib cage, his arms, his leg, his throat, his jawline, the scrape on the front of his chin, the previous healing abrasion and knot to Joey's forehead now gaping with a deep laceration, the bruises to his face among other injuries. I couldn't take my eyes off of her, even though her back was to us mostly as she spoke directly to the Judge. She spoke at great length about many things and walked through the guidelines for sentencing giving her input to each of these items, describing in detail how specific sections pertained to this case. When she finished she asked the Judge to hand down a sentence of Indeterminate Life with 15 years fixed.
Then it was the Defense's turn to argue their points for sentencing recommendations. Talking at length about the people that testified about Ryan's character, his love for others and so forth. He talked at length about how their two experts showed how our two doctors (forensic pathologist and child abuse expert) used antiquated science to reach their conclusions about Joey's injuries. He argued that the 589 page Pre Sentence Investigation Report was slanted and painted his client in a negative way, (My son Stan summed it up best in his statement "... couldn't get over the defense attorney saying that the 600 page document painted the defendant in an unfair/slanted light. People that murder toddlers typically aren't painted to be outstanding citizens".) But the biggest thing was how he explained that Ryan is a good man and he asked the Judge not to sentence Ryan based on a window of a few minutes of his life when something bad happened. And finally asked the Judge to sentence him to the minimum the statute allowed which is 10 years fixed on a life sentence.
We were then given a few minutes break before Mr. Laubach would be allowed to speak to the court before the Judge made her decision. When court resumed Mr. Laubach was allowed to speak to the court before his sentence was handed down. It was pretty dramatic to start because of his standing and spinning around to look directly at my daughter and begin to speak. The Judge stopped him as soon as she saw what was happening (she had been looking down as he began to stand). He said his piece about hoping Erin and Joseph could some day accept his apology and that he has regretted every day what happened. And then he went on to thank his mother for moving there, quitting her job that she went to school for and moving here to support him, thanking his family and friends for coming today and how he was sorry that their "gathering together" was under these circumstances -- really this wasn't a "gathering together" -- it was a SENTENCING HEARING!!!!
The Judge then spoke. She took time to go through everything and eventually got to the heart of the matter. She even used the defense attorney's statement that this was a small window of a few minutes in Ryan's life - but, she said, that small window of a few minutes of his life ended Joey's life. And then she got to how he should have known from previous admissions of handling Joey to roughly, holding his face to harshly, that injuries, even worse injuries could happen. And she talked about the severe injuries that Joey suffered. That this was not a one time hands on injury. But that this was multiple hands on injuries to Joey. And sentenced him to Indeterminate Life with 15 years fixed. With having served 18 months in the county jail he would eligible for parole in 13 1/2 years. She address both families again, expressing her sadness for both sides. And how she hoped that we could begin to grieve for Joey now and that we could begin to move forward. And with that court was dismissed and the officers removed Mr.Laubach from the courtroom.
It was over! It was late in the afternoon. I was ready to collapse. The emotional roller coaster and my mind spinning were still going though. The adrenaline still coursing through my body but JUSTICE FOR JOSEPH WAYNE GRAHAM III had happened!
Erin and I hugged and talked with family and friends outside of the courthouse. We hugged Nicole and Penny, the Prosecutor's Assistants and we waited for Tina so we could head over to her office to decompress as we typically did after many of the hearings.
I know in the Laubach and friends blogs. FB posts and such there will be many comments and derogatory statements made about myself, Erin and our family and friends, against the Prosecutor and her assistants, against the officers and anyone else involved in this case. Say what you want, say what you will. You stalked my daughter's house the few days before court (and previously we know, we just never caught you then) but you didn't scare us. I pray that some day you will be able to accept and truly understand what your son did to my grandson. And that nothing he says, no matter how long he spends in prison it will never change the fact that 22 month old Joseph "Joey" Wayne Graham III's life ended at the hands of Richard Ryan Laubach on March 12, 2013.
To my friends, the friends of Erin's, Stan and Kasandra's, Melissa and Morgan's, Crystal and Richie's, Lawrence and Jaime's, Joseph's, Kim's, Stevie's, Steve and Jordan's, Debbie's, Alexander's, Derrick's and Dana's - thank you for being there, for standing beside us and helping us through the last 18 months. We all know that sometimes it's hard to hear, that it's hard to know what to say - just being a friend, talking, laughing and crying and just knowing someone is there even without talking, has helped immensely.
To the Paramedics from Mountain Home, the flight crew of Air St. Luke's, the doctor's and staff at St. Alphonsus and St. Luke's Children's hospital thank you for taking such amazing care of my grandson and for your compassion and caring of my family during our time at your facilities.
To the law enforcement officers of Mountain Home Police Department and Ada County Sheriff Department - I have always had a love and admiration for law enforcement officers and the work they do. I pray you never have to have another ride like this one but I am so thankful you were on this one for us. You mean the absolute world to Erin, me and my family. Stay safe and stay proud of the work you do, you are all amazing and will forever hold a place in our hearts.
To Tina, Nicole, and Penny - words will never be able to express my gratitude and love for each of you. You are three solid rocks which we were able to rest upon. We could not have gotten through every single day without you and you will ALWAYS and FOREVER be a part of our lives.
To my children, my grandchildren, and every member of our extended family - you all amaze me and I am so thankful for each and every one of you. This has been the worst nightmare anyone can ever imagine happening in their lives and while we have had some rocky points along the way we are strong and I love each of you more than you will ever know.
To the Lord above - I have asked many times "Just how big do you think my shoulders are?" because everyone says you never give us more than we can handle. I guess they were big enough. Thank you for lightening the load on them and I know final justice will be in your time.
Hug your children, kiss them. Cherish every moment. Get down on the floor and see the world from their perspective. Laugh with them, play with them, love them, teach them. And give them an extra squeeze from me.
Rest in Peace Joey. You are loved and dearly missed. I will forever tell your story and try to make a difference in other children's lives in your name.