Crime, Punishment and Victims


Birth Date

Sentence Date

Release Date

First Parole Eligibility

Att Cap Murder w/ Deadly 12/14/1975 8/12/1992 3/13/2012 3/13/1997
2 Counts Att Cap Murder w/ Deadly 06/18/1976 4/13/93 3/09/2027 07/12/2000
2 Counts Att Cap Murder w/ DeadlyAgg Robbery w/Deadly 03/05/1976 3/08/93 3/05/2027 3/12/2000

The above is not random information designed to entice. This morning my friend and fellow Blogger Red called to ask permission to use information she knows about me as part of her on-going discussion (Reds Crime & Punishment). Of course, I am always happy to contribute, but thought in the interest of disclosure I would provide some of the facts.

Nearly Deadly Night

A night like any other really, the story, in a nutshell, I stopped for cigarettes and gas on my way home from work, it was February 7, 1992,  Benbrook, Texas a suburb of Ft. Worth. From there my nightmares begin, you can read the entire story at the link above, suffice to say my life was changed forever by three teenagers. Carjacked at gunpoint, held for over two hours I knew my life might end and I wasn’t ready. Ultimately, I was shot three times, twice through the neck and once a defensive wound in my forearm.

Funny the things you think about when you believe you might die. After the smoke had cleared and the tail-lights were down the road as I lay curled around myself first thinking how much bullets really hurt when they enter your body, I thought ……they took my brand new pack of cigarettes and just how unfair that was.

1992 UTWatch_ Texas Prison Overcrowding

Giving me Pause

The three young men involved were caught because they made stupid mistakes first in their choice of victims, we survived. Their stupidest mistake though was in committing their crimes in the first place, destroying their lives before they ever started. In all three cases, each of them had one parent serving time; in the case of one both parents were behind bars. This would make them the second generation to share the yard. One of their grandmothers said to the DA, please don’t send him away he is a good boy he thought they were only going to steal cars.


In fact, he ended up turning evidence against the other two, he had a good school record, had never been in trouble before this; it is likely he didn’t know what was to come of that night. He tried to stop them but couldn’t and in the end had to back down, how is that for the ultimate peer pressure. This young man ended up with a twenty-year sentence because he thought he was going joy riding.

They Got Time but I Got Life

I will not go into the details here of either the short or long-term damage to my body

Huntsville State Prison – Wikipedia

or soul from this incident. The three offenders will someday walk free, I will never be free and it is extremely likely my life will be shortened by up to twenty years because of their actions and choices. This sentence provides a very different perspective.

I am often asked if I forgive them, the short answer is NO.

Victim Impact

Since I have been back in Texas, I have been privileged to volunteer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in a program called Victim Impact. I wish they would call it something different, but I understand the meaning behind it and my involvement has provided me both insight and opportunity to truly think about the criminal justice system we have today. I have met some amazing people, other Victims also Volunteers, staff members and even on occasion some of the program participants . Heard some heart wrenching stories that make me want to weep, even when hearing them for the tenth time.

The program takes us, the victims inside of State and Federal prisons, State jails, juvenile facilities and parole groups to talk to offenders about what crime does to us how it affects us. The offenders in the prison and jail programs are volunteers who must be approved, they want to be there and it isn’t an easy program. They don’t get a gold star on their jacket for finishing it.

Time – kutnews Image

How I see it

I am not easy and some who hear me speak are offended by my lack of forgiveness. My only response is there will never be forgiveness until there is remorse and reconciliation it isn’t a right and cannot be demanded. My offenders have been up for Parole more than once each, I have been there each time fighting to keep them exactly where they are, through letter writing campaigns and petitions. Their crimes against me and against my family as the extended victims were brutal. I want every day, every hour, every minute the state promised me in the sentence handed down.

Crime and punishment are abstract until they are real. I believe strongly we have a system  that doesn’t serve us properly. We have spent far too long warehousing the non-violent

Garden of Angles dedicated to murder victims

and returning the violent to a society that is not ready for their enhanced skills. We have grown prison populations that include generations, it should be a national shame rather than a source of revenue and pride. Nevertheless, as a victim of a senseless violent crime I am thankful I can participate in the processes that ensure fair sentences meted out and completed when appropriate.

Some think me hard, others think I am vindictive demanding my pound of flesh. The truth of it is I don’t believe in forgiveness as a right and I don’t believe those that do me and mine harm should be able to demand their freedom. They caused immeasurable and have never said those simple words “I am sorry”. So why should I ever lift my demands they serve their sentences.

I will continue this some other time. There is far more to discuss on this subject.


  1. What a horrific situation! I can understand your unwillingness to forgive. I mean, why should you? Did those guys even ask for forgiveness? It’s equally appalling that the grandmother of one tried to dismiss the severity of his crime. I guess that’s to be expected from a family member. I’ve never been a crime victim, but I know some people who have. Indeed, it’s a life sentence. As cheesy as this may sound, Valentine, I definitely hope you can continue healing.

    • I don’t think her intention was to dismiss what he did, truly I think she just wanted to save him. His father, her son was already in prison. She was watching another generation lose their life and freedom. Honestly, it was a horrific situation and I felt for her.

      My unwillingness to forgive rests entirely on the idea there has never been any indication from any of them they are remorseful of their actions. I don’t believe in forgiveness for its own sake. I don’t believe I owe it. I heal my heart, my body will never heal entirely.

      Thanks for your wishes and for reading.

  2. What a story. What a terrible story. What pain you must have been living with for twenty years. And yet I see that you have done and are doing positive things to channel that anger. I am in awe.

    Like Red, I agree with you. Why forgive someone who is not sorry? Why say, sure, it’s ok, when it is decidedly not.

    And I agree with your take on our prison system. It is filled with folks who have hurt no one, and the ones who have are out again.

    And then there is gun control. For another time and another comment.

    Thank you for sharing this with me (in a post about Health Insurance for anyone else wondering where this is coming from).

    I’m impressed by your strength. Truly.

    • Thanks Elyse, it is something I work through most days. I find though the Healthcare issue is very much a part of the debate. Forgiveness, well that is very different for each of us I guess.

  3. I make people angry with my lack of forgiveness as well, but I probably am unforgiving for a lot less. No one can tell another how and when to forgive. That is your journey.

    • It has always been difficult to get people to understand why forgiveness isn’t “owed”. Even were I to come from a Biblical standpoint (I don’t) it isn’t due simply cause I am a nice person (I am not). Certainly I have nothing to forgive myself for (the other shoe drops). I leave mouths hanging open when I tell people this, then the gnash their teeth and suggest my afterlife might be warm. 😉

  4. I hear you on the advocate quote. Red said that I should do something to expound on my experiences. Little does she know until now, I’m coming out of the phone booth, I already do these things. I give out packages at Christmas in the prison in Kershaw, have been minutely involved in the Kairos program, I am currently trying to help a girl that I went to high school with(her son was sentenced to 3 years in October) and when asked, I discuss my prison stay with young people. I am thankful that I can reach out, wish many others felt the same. But, no matter how good things are going, it is a cross that I must bear. I will never live down the stigma and shame of being a convicted felon. Though I try to move on, times like this act as an anchor to drag me down. Thanks for the comments and thanks for the spanking week before last. It takes stress and pressure to form a diamond. Thanks again, Grant

    • Grant all of us come at our future from our past. I don’t believe we have to carry shame as if it is a weight we are never allowed to set down. I understand fully the issue of stigma, however I also believe that ultimately we are judged by our character and our acts, not our history. Those that know you will never judge you by the acts of your past. Those that don’t are hardly worth your concern. Despite my obvious bias, I truly believe in reform and the ability for a person to reclaim their life. I believe strongly that one should be allowed to re-enter and that we, society that is should provide the opportunity for them to do so. I work with the Victim Impact group because of that belief, I don’t do it because it feels good but because of my strong belief that if I touch just one person each time I speak it is worth it.

  5. Val,great post. Though my crime was not directed at anyone, my whole family has been victims. I began drinking (mostly Vodka) when I was 15. When my grandmother died, the drinking increased drastically. One month to the day of her death, I was wasted in the barn at their house. I saw a hornets nest and set it on fire. Needless to say, fire and hay don’t mix. By the time it was over 3 buildings had burned. 3 counts of arson. My grandfather didn’t want to press charges, because he understood my grief and the fact that it was an accident. However, arson being a felony, it was out of his hands. I had never been in ANY kind of trouble before. Due to this fact and 167 letters of recommendation, the judge only sentenced me to 3 years. I was facing 30. After serving 18 months, I was back but… My grandfather had passed, my family(extended relatives) treated me like a leper, neighbors treated me like a leper, good jobs have been hard to find and what hurts the most is that I can’t use a rifle to take my 4 sons hunting(due to the Brady Bill). But it’s OK. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I DID THE CRIME! I have learned to cope. And the last 4 years I have been privileged to go to the prisons to pass out Christmas packages to the inmates. It’s nice to be able to say” I know where you’re at and what you’re feeling. I’ve been there.” And though I’m not proud of it, I wouldn’t change it. It is part of who I am today. And I like who I’ve become, Grant

    • Grant – while I understand that at times bad things happen to good people and your story is an example of that. There are consequences to actions. Most people are not incarcerated because they made a stupid mistake, they are there because of choices they made knowing full well they were breaking the law and doing harm. In the case of violence, knowing full well one of those consequences could be the death of another human being. My empathy and compassion does not extend that far, they have given up their right to participate in society in any meaningful way when they placed themselves above their fellow man, if this seems harsh so be it.

      I am an advocate of victims first. That being said I also am a strong advocate of changing our system to one where the punishment fits the crime, where we stop warehousing non-violent offenders and start making education, restitution, family reunification and re-entry our goals. This isn’t because I am a bleeding heart liberal (though I am in some cases) it is because I believe it is the best way to prevent recidivism.

  6. Don’t you dare.

    Forgive the unrepentant.
    Grant reprieve to the remorseless.
    Give a tinker’s damn about what anyone thinks. (Except me.)

    You are no more hardhearted than the moon is made of cheese. You are reasonable in your expectation to be granted forgiveness one must repent, be contrite and offer penance beyond what is demanded as a matter of law.

    To those who would judge, their comeuppance is nigh. Those are the ones who lament being caught with their pants around their ankles when the boss comes calling for the copy girl. Perhaps, they have a skeleton or two who would like to punch the dance card. I wield a mighty rock should they have the chutzpah to bare the glass of their houses.

    You are my hero,

    • There is a space in my heart that is polished and hard as a diamond. I reserve it for those who have done what is impossible to forgive. No worries on this note Red, my cup does not overflow with charity. I am always thankful you are in my corner! As for heroes well that is as always a two way street with no dead-end, I simply survived a single silly incident, you live your life heroically.

  7. Stinking WP mobile would not let me sign in to like this when you posted it, and I read it the first time…

    Your story breaks my heart, but your victorious life makes me celebrate. I have fires to tend, but I shall return for more comment, as this much has taken more than 40 minutes to accomplish…Sheesh.


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  5. […] Val has been a victim of violence, but is a victim’s impact advocate. […]

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