The Back Story/Follow Up to "Happy Birthday Maritza"

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Cholo

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I didn't want to put the following into my Happy Birthday Maritza thread. There's a back story and followup that's quite interesting thru all the incredible sadness.

My friend Dave didn't get married until he was 36. Maritza was from Bogotá, Colombia. They had recently moved just north of Atlanta to Cherokee County.

July 18, 1995 at 10:50PM my home phone rang. I was watching Forrest Gump with my 3 kids. I told my oldest daughter, 14, I wasn't going to answer it so she ran upstairs to listed to the message. She came down looking like a ghost and said "Dad, I think you need to listen to this". It was a mutual friend, Denny. He filled me in and I hung up. I buried my face in my hands and broke down sobbing. It's the only time my kids have ever seen me cry. I loved her so much, and my friend, too.

She was actually kept on life support until her family could get here from Colombia. There was no brain activity. There's only one problem--our government wouldn't give them visas :x Those b&%$#&%s!

Newt Gingrich, R-GA, had just become Speaker of the House and had his plate full with the Contract With America. He was a very busy man. Dave called his office and told them the story that I'm sure they checked out. Newt Gingrich personally called Dave expressing his deepest condolences and his outrage about visas not being granted. He said he'd take care of it and her family would be up here in 24 hours. They were! Never speak ill of Newt Gingrich around me!

Kidney disease runs in Dave's family from his father's side. His father died at 36 because of it. Dave has 4 brothers, 2 of them desperately needing a kidney transplant and were on the waiting list. What would the odds be of Maritza being a perfect match for Dave's 2 brothers? Astronomical right? It was a perfect match! One brother is still alive because of Maritza's kidney. His other brother passed away several years ago from unrelated health issues.

A year has passed and Dave has made a movie about their life together, a short 5 years. This drunk driving death was a high profile case because it was his 5th DUI, the last 2 previous ones resulting in critical injuries to the people in the cars he hit. The movie was played on the local news that got MADD's attention and they took it national. Montel Williams, and maybe a few more, wanted Dave to come on their shows. He declined.

Dave tells me one night that he saw Maritza's murder's old Chevy truck parked outside the same bar he drank aprox. 14 beers the night he killed Maritza. I don't think I've ever felt so much rage in my life as when he told me that. I told him that I could get hold of "Red W" and we could... He cut me off and told me he didn't want that. He never stopped drinking and driving, never! Every night we were to find out.

The trial for Ronald S was to be held sometime in '97. The only people allowed in the courtroom were family members, close friends, and reporters. Dave knew I wanted to be there, so I was on the short list. I'd never seen security like this, reporters everywhere. Our biggest concern was that this was the same judge who presided over S's last DUI with critical injuries and gave him about 2 weeks in county lockup and 6 months probation. Unreal! Blood is now on this judge's hands!

So, here's Ronald S. He looked like Charles Mansion in his mug shot and now he looks like a choir boy. The family/friends of each side were separated for obvious reasons, Dave's side on the left. The trial starts...

S's lawyer went after that it was Maritza who crossed into S's lane and caused the collision. Witness #1 is called to the stand. I believe he was the biggest State Trooper in all of Georgia. About 6'8" 350#'s of pure muscle. This gentle black giant was bigger than Hulk Hogan! He was asked sarcastically: What makes you such an expert? He worked this accident and was a certified in accident reconstruction.
When he rattled off his credentials S's lawyer said--Nomorequestions, as if were one word.

Dave's called to the stand. An odd question the DA asked him was: Did Ronald S ever try to contact you regarding the accident? No. S jumped up and screamed: My lawyer told me not to contact you. Do you mean if I would have contacted you that I wouldn't have to be here today?

Recess, the judge returns. This was not a jury trial. S is called to the front and has his hands behind his back. The judge started talking. Mr. S, you've shown remorse in the courtroom today. (Say what? No remorse, only belligerence! :x ) Right then a bailiff is approaching S from behind on each side. Because of your history of DUI, I sentence you to 12 years in the Atlanta Penitentiary, and then the 10 years probation, drug/alcohol tests etc. His side went nuts! Anyone who really knows me knows that I have severe hearing damage. The sweetest sound I've ever heard in my life didn't come from a sweetheart. It was the sound of the handcuffs locking around this POS's wrists.

Dave remembers nothing at all about what happened in the courtroom. The way we found out about his daily drinking driving after the murder was that his wife was called to the stand. Huh? :? She stated that he drove home drunk every night and she didn't know how he made it.

Six years go by and I get a letter from the Georgia Parole Board stating that S was up for parole and if I wanted to have a say in it. I fired off a letter stating in no uncertain terms how I felt about it, and to consider his past history. I was firm, professional and polite. About 3 weeks later I get another letter from the Parole Board. My heart was beating hard when I opened it. Denied! It was such a beautiful letter they wrote me personally thanking me for my say in the process and that my thoughts that mirrored the few others who were invited into the Cherokee County, GA courthouse that day.

Dave called me the day S got out of prison. I said that maybe it's time we just let it go. No person can harbor hate in their heart for people who desperately deserve it without it consuming you like cancer. We agreed.

I'll never understand how a mother of a 20 month old and wife of my friend can be taken from this earth by a drunk driver and then she's a perfect match to be a kidney donor to Dave's brothers. How can anyone say that this was God's will? I somehow can't buy that, but it was not for us to judge.

Dave and I never mention Ronald S. We communicated today because it would have been Maritza's 57th birthday. Do I hate Ronald S? I have to think about, but I can say that I don't. And the relieving of the hate I've had towards him came from someone much bigger than me. I'm grateful for that.
 

Poco Oso

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Wow. Words can't describe what is going through my mind right now. To lose someone you love in such a manner, and then have them give her husband's brothers the gift of life, is truly amazing. She was special to some greater power, as she continued to live on through them. The fact that Ronald S is still living tells me you're a better man than me. I don't think I Could show that kind of benevolence. Thanks for sharing this story with us Cholo. I'm glad you found peace in your forgiveness.
 

pawncop

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A powerful story on so many levels. I am also saddened by everyone's loss of a dear friend. Take care my friend.
 

Jeepnik

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More than you will ever know I understand your rage.

The legal system fails in so many ways every day that I often wonder why it hasn't been discarded.
 

blackhawknj

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Yes, I understand your feelings. October 9, 2015, bicycling home at 1:30AM-I was hit by a drunk. Came to in the ambulance. I think all those comic books I read as a kid had some effect, if given the choice of one superpower I think Invulnerability would be a good choice.
Mark David Chapman, confessed killer of John Lennon, has had an exemplary record in prison, but whenever he comes up for parole, they receive letters from John Lennon fans insisting he remain locked up, letters from Yoko Ono saying her pain and grief have not subsided. No doubt it would be good for them to listen to The Man who preached forgiveness, but that's a subject for another thread.
 

contender

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When a human being makes a mistake, pays for it and learns from the mistake,, then forgiveness is easy.
When a human being chooses to make the same mistakes over & over again, disregarding the consequences,, or the pain & suffering they cause because of their choices,, then they should be controlled,, severely,,,,, in accordance with the law & morality. Some people just do not care for others, much less,, themselves. As such,, they should not enjoy the same freedoms as law abiding people who choose to live life as it should be.
Some people say alcoholism is a disease. I'm no expert, but I've known some hard core drinkers & drug abusers who have quit,, just because they wanted to. It's called willpower. I think too many use the "disease" thing as an excuse.
Our country's legal system has been so watered down, so abused & mis-used to where punishment is no longer a real threat to any offender.

We have told our children as they grew up; Obey the law & stay out of trouble. If you get accused & are truly innocent,, then I'll be the strongest fighter for you ever. But,, if you are guilty,, then I will stand & tell the courts to punish you to the fullest extent of the law. We love our kids,, but we expect them to be good citizens.

It's so sad that Maritza,, AND her family have had to pay for the serious abuse of the legal system & the lack of punishment that criminal SHOULD have been paying for. If the system had worked,, that drunk would have been locked away long before he killed Maritza.
 

blackhawknj

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Yes, I don't buy the "it's a disease" excuse. I don't know anybody who "quit" cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's, etc.
 
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blackhawknj said:
Yes, I don't buy the "it's a disease" excuse. I don't know anybody who "quit" cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's, etc.
BINGO! My father and step mom were killed by a drunk driver in Henry County, Ga. a four time DUI holder. He got 15 years for each death to be served concurrently, and he got out in 7.5 years! Cholo, I understand. Maritza’s death wasn’t a total loss, but it still hurts.
gramps
 
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