The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Sentencing Hearing #1


I’ve had unfinished drafts saved for a while, and it’s time to finish Jacob’s story. Forgive my disjointed approach.

We arrived for the sentencing on the morning of October 7, 2015, with several of Jacob’s friends. Jacob was guided down the hall dressed in the jail’s red scrubs and chained like a dangerous criminal. It was heartbreaking to see him like that. But the memory of that sight is different now, altered by the calluses of months of jail visits and phone calls and the indignities of parole. Strange how the gritty raw memories of the day have become less bitter through some survival mechanism or simply time.

I had called the jail to try to get Jacob’s suit for cleaning to wear to this hearing. It was another instance of runaround with the jail. In the past, I’d left unanswered messages and been given misinformation. Finally, I got the answer that he would not be wearing street clothes, thus the scrubs. Two weeks later, by jail error, he was given his suit to change into. Just think how small errors violate protocols and appear in our imperfect life, in marriage, in police interrogations, in trials.

Jacob’s ex-family were all there including his ex-father-in-law who often didn’t even attend family functions. But this was his arena with the Allegheny County Police and the Courthouse. I think he was wearing a uniform type shirt and possibly a prayer-book as notice of his chaplaincy to the police. My memory could be faulty, though. The hearing began with ADA Lowry (gone now from the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office, reportedly to the Attorney General’s office in Harrisburg) bringing my Facebook and blog posts to the attention of the judge. He told the judge that he had been sent the Facebook posts in July after the trial. He was not interested at that time, but now he had learned about my blog. I can’t really explain why it was different since it was just more of the same postings that I had written for Facebook. Perhaps it was the difference between social media and my own hosted website. The issue seemed to be that it was Jacob’s words pouring from my fingers. As if! Though we may agree on many things, my writing is my own unless stated otherwise. There was also a suggestion that neither Roy or I could give proper supervision for Jacob, in visits with his son and nephew, I suppose. Possibly it was to suggest that Roy and/or I were influencing him to keep up his claim of innocence after they had judged him guilty. I don’t know and didn’t really get any definitive answer to questions. It just seemed like an effort of one family to stifle and punish our family, in particular, me, using the power of the Court.

We stepped into the hallway to discuss this twist. Jacob’s lawyer was angry with me saying he hadn’t told me I could …..and his voice trailed off. I remembered exactly what he had told me when I said I was posting. He said he didn’t care what I said except he cautioned me against saying anything about the judge (and I had nothing to say at that time anyway). And why was she off limits? I took his admonition to imply that negative words about her might negatively affect Jacob’s sentence. But why would she even be reading my blog? So we had a two-week delay while the judge read my posts to determine relevance.

I got a copy of the posts to review and then discuss with Jacob’s attorney. By the time I spoke with him. though, he had already met with the district attorney and judge. Our discussion was irrelevant. The argument was that like so many parents I was just proclaiming my, to them, unwarranted faith, in my child’s innocence. And then there was the issue of freedom of speech. What did this delay present me with? The knowledge that my words had been read by Jacob’s ex-family. All those things I wished I had said to them, I had.

His attorney also submitted letters to the judge from Jacob’s co-workers, bosses, and friends asking her to consider leniency. But the attorney withheld one letter that he thought would be problematic, that in hindsight, I would have liked to include. As it was, there were questions about a couple of the letters, one from a preacher and a seeming contradiction in a letter and a comment on Facebook from a friend. About the same time, a person using the profile, Deena Yockey, posted a comment about the sentencing with a photo stolen from my Facebook profile to the church website of one of those letter writers. I asked Jacob’s attorney if the ex-family had access to those letters. He said no, shouldn’t have had access. Circumstantial evidence.


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