Bus driver from Alki addresses attacker, but sentencing postponed

gavel.jpgWe 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.

11 Replies to "Bus driver from Alki addresses attacker, but sentencing postponed"

  • Dale April 12, 2010 (11:06 am)

    15 documented contacts with the police by age 14. My, his family must be so PROUD of him. Since it appears his family has made no effort to change this behavior I wish the judge would put the youth and his parents in Jail to serve concurrent time.

  • CurlyQ April 12, 2010 (11:07 am)

    I am awed by the driver’s grace, strength and compassion. God bless her. May she find peace, and may her attacker find a new path of healing and redemption.

  • William Brewer April 12, 2010 (11:27 am)

    May her attacker find “healing and redemption” via about 10 years behind bars

  • sarelly April 12, 2010 (12:31 pm)

    My husband drove for Metro for about 15 years. During that time, threats of assault, even death threats, were common. He was often afraid of passengers. It really is a dangerous job. And drivers don’t get paid – or trained – for combat.

    More should be done to ensure safety on buses. We have probably all witnessed the harassment of passengers and drivers by people who are intoxicated, mentally ill, or otherwise out of control. What if Metro had security personnel ride with drivers? It’s a pretty hard sell to get people to take public transportation if their cars provide a clean and pleasant alternative to a dirty, smelly, frightening, and/or dangerous bus ride.

    As for jail time for a juvenile, I doubt that would serve any constructive purpose, aside from possibly helping the driver to feel safer in the short run. A kid like that needs meaningful counseling, education, drug treatment, and a healthier social circle. From what I’ve heard, detention centers offer none of those things. He should have to pay for the driver’s medical bills.

  • Eric April 12, 2010 (1:39 pm)

    Perhaps if those 15 “contacts” had resulted in more than a slap on the wrist things would have turned out different.
    I know ONE contact with the cops would have resulted in more than a few contacts with my dad’s hand upside my head back in my youth.

  • T-Rex April 12, 2010 (2:42 pm)

    This kids will get jack for what he did and be in trouble again in the next six months. Probably less. Unless he was sobbing and on his knees begging for forgiveness today in front of his victim you can give him all the counseling,education and social flipping kumbaya all day long and he will NOT change. He beat the crap out of another human being because she would not open the door!!! This is not a “troubled” person, this is a dangerous person who should be put away before he kills someone.
    GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!!!!!!!!

    • WSB April 12, 2010 (2:45 pm)

      He did not speak today – his lawyer will present their side tomorrow, and if he is going to speak at all, that is when it will happen. I’ll be back in court for the continuation of the hearing; there were at least 2 TV stations there today so you will see something on TV news tonight, though, as is standard in Juvenile Court, faces were not to be photographed – TR

  • JanS April 12, 2010 (3:31 pm)

    I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around the lawyer’s excuse. Her support showed up, she showed up, TV stations showed up , WSB showed up. Everyone got it right but him? Really? Wow…or was it simply another excuse by an absent parent?

  • AceMotel April 12, 2010 (4:30 pm)

    Wow. Victim’s statement reflects a beautiful and compassionate human being. It’s very powerful.

  • susieq April 12, 2010 (8:17 pm)

    Wow! I am so in awe of this woman with the power to forgive and even encourage her attacker on to a better life. I so hope the young man took her words to heart. How can I support this woman? How can I help this young man? It takes a village.

  • D.A. April 13, 2010 (9:03 am)

    My guess is that any time this kid spends in jail or otherwise detained will likely just give him time to learn how to be a better criminal. Because locking him up with other criminals just gives them a place to share their knowledge and improve their skills.

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