We have just left Juvenile Court southeast of downtown. The Alki woman beaten unconscious while on the job as a Metro bus driver in Tukwila earlier this year has just addressed her 14-year-old attacker in court – but his sentencing has been postponed at the request of his lawyer, who told Judge Chris Washington that he thought the hearing was tomorrow, and therefore didn’t notify his client’s mother. Judge Washington agreed to let the defense present its side tomorrow but offered to hear from anyone who wanted to speak today – so the prosecution made its case, and that included the statement that the 57-year-old driver had told us via e-mail that she would give. As she had hoped, some fellow drivers, and transit union leaders, were there to support her, filling what few seats there were in the small courtroom. Visibly shaken just at the sight of her attacker, the driver nonetheless mustered courage and poise to give her statement clearly and firmly; during it, she asked her attacker to look at her (he did) from his seat, perhaps 10 feet away, and told him, among other things, “Hate never wins.” She also said she prays for him “to become a better man” and “to heal,” as she hopes he will. The court was told that he has substance-abuse and anger problems, and that he is a known gang member, who while he has no conviction record, has had at least 15 documented contacts with law enforcement. The sentencing hearing will resume at 8:30 tomorrow morning. We will add more from today’s proceedings a bit later. ADDED 4:05 PM: Our transcription of the victim’s statement in the courtroom today – read on:
She explained that she had written the statement sometime back, when her physical condition was somewhat worse than it is now, so she had changed a few things. We captured as much of it as possible, typing as fast as possible, but the ellipses represent what we just couldn’t get down:
As I sit to write this I feel the pain in my head from the concussion, the ache behind my right eye, (the lip injury that may never fully heal) … the right side of my face is still swollen … I tire easily and have no energy level … my attention span has diminished … I still wake several times a night sometimes out of fear and sometimes from nightmares.
My dreams have… taken on a life of their own … I sometimes dream of the boys on the bus storming through the door of my home …
During the day I have been trying to take walks … but I walk and I cry, I talk to friends and I cry, I close my eyes and i cry, i take a bath and i cry … (I am worried about ) my daughter who has just lost a baby and is now in a new pregnancy … I’m worried about my son, who has two young sons and a wife … he has been my rock and I see the hurt and fear in his eyes … he feels helpless …
I remember when I briefly came to (after being beaten), calling out for help … I remember the boys storming the front of the bus … the anger and pain and nausea won’t stop … and I want my life back.
I wake up every day and say it’s going to be a good day … but slowly my day begins to unravel. I pray for strength for me and my family and my brothers and sisters still driving for Metro and they have fear every day when they go out and board that bus …
I’m 57 and no longer young … I feel broken …I fear for my safety doing my job. I am afraid but i am hopeful in time I will heal. I pray for my assailant [she calls him by name] Please look at me. [he did] You are young … I pray for your anger to be directed to find a peace in your heart, to … a greater good. I pray for you to become a leader and I pray for you to be a better man and I pray for you to heal as well. We are on this journey together. I cannot hold anger and I cannot hold hate toward you. I am trying very hard to forgive you right now – I feel you need this time [in custody] to save your own life, and I want you to remember … hate never wins.
The attacker has been in juvenile detention for almost 3 months, since the January arrest in Tukwila. The prosecutor said they are seeking almost double the standard sentence – a year in juvenile custody – in hopes that he can get substance-abuse and anger counseling and maybe even gang intervention, in as secure setting. She said he had received no treatment at all while in custody to this point.
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