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Monika Skrzypkowski's Mother's
Victim Impact Statement
Your Honor, February 2nd, 2010
Before I make my own statement I’d like my daughter Monika Skrzypkowski, who was recklessly killed by a drunk driver Mr. Kevin Schuh, to introduce herself in her own words thru her writings:
My name is Monika Skrzypkowski. I do not have a middle name because my parents think it is un-needed. My name is Polish. I speak fluent Polish and I go to Polish School every Saturday, because I have opportunity to get extra credit points for college. Starting way back from fifth grade when I and my friends favored diaries, I vowed to write in them everyday. I always thought that every school day was the same, but for everyday there are different thoughts. Thoughts that deserve to be remembered and feelings deserve to be expressed. Everyone has different ways of expressing their feelings, and for me, that’s writing. And I’ll keep on writing throughout high school, life goes on. And when I first walk in as a freshman, a whole new journal will open up, filled with clean white pages. Don’t you just love that new book smell? As we grow, we live; we learn even the things we wish not to know. I have found the fake key, I’ve already figured it out: we must accept the good things and the bad things, good Memories and the bad. Outside everything’s beautiful, inside is already chaos. I’ve already figured it out, I found the fake key. Did you? I like to have fun and I am very friendly. No matter who I’m paired with, I’ll always try to be nice, respectful, trustworthy person that everyone will remember. I put my own problems aside, because I am here to help others. I love to see people laugh. I don’t show my true personality around people that I am nice to, but not friends with. I absolutely can’t stand it when people call me Monia, if they don’t know me. I cannot wiggle my ears, but I can cross my eyes. I love to dance, draw and make people laugh. My sense of rhythm is excellent and if I were to be superstar I’d call myself AJ.
I expect myself to live to age of 75, but if I were to die tonight I would not be able to experience graduating college, getting a license, being able to vote, bungee jumping, getting married, getting a tattoo, having a kid, getting my own place, living on my own, getting a job.
Death threatens me because it may separate me from my loved ones and it is unknown. My greatest fear is death of someone I love. If someone I love were dying I would want to die, too.
If I found out I were going to die soon I would try to accomplish everything in remaining time and I would turn to God. The idea of death makes me feel afraid, sick, confused and uncomfortable. To me, death is the least threatening: if I had time to prepare. (Not when it happens quickly and not, when you don’t know that is coming).
One thing that I would want to tell my mother, my father and my siblings before I die is: I LOVE YOU!
When I die I want to be remembered for my GOODNESS.
With those simple words she made a statement of who she was and what was important to her. In her last writing on December 6th, 2008, among other things Monika wrote to her boyfriend Anton:
Today is your day, so I’ll do anything to make it one of your best because you definitely deserve it. I hope the very best for you & only the best from me. Everyday we are together is another special day, just like the past 6 months have been. Well, not exactly everything went perfect, but we always work it out in the end and make each other better. It was hard writing a whole page about you, so I’ll only say one more thing: I love you.
And with those words she died and left Anton and all of us to only wonder what would have been… That note was discovered in his pocket two days after Monika’s death.
Today I am standing before this court and the people to have my voice, a voice of a victim.
I am here today to fit 15 years of beautiful life that I and my family had with my daughter Monika Skrzypkowski; and 14 months of grueling experience of grieving for her and observing the man who had killed her, into a few pages of white paper and several minutes of speaking. It is impossible, but my intention is to give you inside of how it is to be walking in my shoes the path that my life was forcefully put on.
Monika Skrzypkowski (my Monia) was born on rainy night of April 19, 1993, one week before her due date. I often wondered why she was born on this tragic date of Waco Texas siege, I wondered why I had to cry on her second birthday seeing kids being killed by Oklahoma City bomber, and again years later watch high school students of Columbine being killed by their fellow students. Today I know that the day of Monia’s death turned out to be as tragic as her birth day. I know, that someone, her fellow student, who had no regard for human life had left her to die on that cold night of December the 6th, of 2008, without wondering how badly he had hurt her.
Monika was a child that parents dream about, very calm and obedient, she naturally followed the rule if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all. She was an observer and learner, but required time to get adjusted to new surroundings and new people. Before she spoke she had to be comfortable and know to whom she was speaking. I often heard from other parents and teachers how nice and well behaved she was. She had a natural talent for drawing, writing, dancing and singing. As a friend she was trustworthy. She would always keep a secret and protect her friends. It bothered her to see people making big deal out of unimportant things. She could not watch others suffering without taking steps to soothe them. I can truly say that selfishness had no part of her and she did not approve it in others. She would shy from gossip or from those who had shown to be self-absorbed and not caring so called stock-ups and bullies. She would share the smile and her contagious laugh; she truly wanted to make a difference thru her advice, talk, motivation, appreciation. She always looked for ways to became better person and she listened to the advice of others. Monia did not complain about not having a lot of clothes or things that others had. She did not demand material things. She cared a lot and was accepting of people of all races, nationalities and capabilities. She longed for friendships, love, relationships that were not based on material possessions. Monika had responsibilities. Ever since her younger siblings Adam and Kasia were born, beginning at the age of 10, she was doing her own laundry. Very often she was asked to help to take care of the little ones. She also would make breakfast and made sure in the morning that she and her brother Martin were not late to school. She was always helpful. I miss so much those Sundays when I would be still cooking pancakes, and Monia would come up to me to say, mom, I’ll finish them, you sit down and eat now. I still can feel her standing next to me in the kitchen, but I miss her presence very much. I miss her saying Mamusia, what else do we need to do? She was looking forward to driving lessons. I dreaded it but she was excited. Once she asked me, mom what do I need to do to get a car? I brushed her off by saying that we had plenty of time for that (or so I thought). And she responded yes mom, but I need to know what I have to do, so I can start working on it.
Monika Skrzypkowski (my Monia) was healthy, living, breathing and walking human being on December the 6th, 2008, a beautiful young girl who had a dream to make impact in the world, to go to college, to have a house with a beautiful garden someday, to have her own family. And the very same day those dreams were all shattered and thrown in the air to drop down and fall to pieces on the cold asphalt along with Monika’s body.She became a victim of drunken driver, who killed her and did not have decency to stop.
I and my family had suffered enormous amount of emotional and physical pain due to loss of Monia. The sadness and screaming silence became part of our existence.Financially we have incurred funeral expenses and hospital bills, which are of the least importance here, but I need to say that thanks to the help of a good people of our community, my family was able to survive the first of many years of grief, sadness and inability to function. And we are very grateful for that.
Today is a judgment day for you Mr. Kevin Schuh. But the sentence will reflect crimes you committed against my daughter Monika Skrzypkowski. It should be about her. Let’s make it about her. Will she receive proper sentence? Will she receive proper credit for unauthorized debit on her life card? For all the years she had lost to you Mr. Schuh? Will she receive credit for the youth that you have taken from her forever? For the adulthood and old age she will never enjoy? Will she receive credit for being good citizen, student, artist, and dancer? Will she receive credit for being nice to people, will she receive credit for being caring, loving sister, daughter, granddaughter, cousin, niece? Will she receive credit for her young age and having no prior record? Will she have 30 days to appeal her unlawful and unjust death sentence? Mr. Schuh, you took my daughter’s right to live, love and pursue her happiness. Without any due process, without a trial or hearing you imposed a DEATH sentence on her. When you drove drunk and hurt my daughter, me and my family, you infringed on my liberty. I feel fully entitled to support a legal system that takes away your freedom for a long time for your willful negligence. So far my daughter Monika, my family and I are the ones who suffer consequences of your actions. You have put me in prison of my inability to feel safe and normal, prison of my deep grief, my thoughts, and my wounded soul for a lifetime. I may be free to walk and talk and drive anywhere I want to, but the bars that you put around me serve as entrapment of my freedoms and liberties. You violated my life. With your ignorant, self-absorbed, selfish, uncaring decisions which you put into actions you have ruined my world, causing irreversible damage. You have stolen my daughter’s life, and my family’s life with it. What is the penalty for stealing? I have witnessed here in this courtroom a man receiving 8 years of prison sentence because he had stolen material possessions, things that he could return, or pay back. Can you please give me my daughter back? What is the value of her life? Nothing will ever justify the loss of Monika Skrzypkowski’s life. I can’t put the number on it, it would be infinite. That’s why we have laws to put the numbers on committed crimes. I am here for justice. Mr. Schuh, you are here for mercy. And you have used up any possible credits that you could have earned with me over the past 14 months.
What is the maximum crime of Aggravated DUI? And driving away? What is the maximum that you could have done to my daughter Monika? Let me be clear: my Monia did not die…My Monia was KILLED. There is nothing more final, there is no bigger maximum. I know that this was not an intentional killing, and so does the law. If it was, you would be charged with premeditated murder, not Aggravated DUI with fatality. Driving drunk however in itself constitutes risk of killing and knowingly taking it provokes intension to kill. “It frightens me that nobody seems to care about the innocent”. I cite Agatha Christi. "Nobody seems to go through the agony of the victim – they are only full of pity for the young killer, because of his youth.” Today I want you to go thru my agony with me. On Saturday December 6th, 2008 my daughter Monika attended Polish School and dance class of her younger siblings, she helped out at home to make dinner and decorate the tree, before she was driven by her father Artur to her boyfriend’s house. There she enjoyed her friends company and played pool. She ate chocolates before they went outside for a walk. It is hard to imagine what happened next. But I want you to walk this walk with me. I beg of you to dive down into the depths of your soul and imagine your own child walking by the park with friends, talking with them and making a phone call to you before the curfew, asking to be picked up. And then see your child carefully crossing the street and finding herself on the median, waiting for cars to pass before crossing next half, when suddenly out of no where and within seconds three tons of metal of Honda Odyssey hits her from the back, a sudden thud of wind slams into her stomach, falling down on her as a boulder. Her legs and hands are shaking; she feels pressure and pain, unable to take a breath. Imagine your child’s body being thrown in the air ahead of this monster vehicle for a few yards, separated from her boots and hood of a winter jacket that you just purchased for her before Thanksgiving, to finally fall backwards on cold winter street, her eyes opened, her breath taken away, her life gone with the wind.
This is about her not making thru this hardest and most painful hit of her life; this is not about someone accidentally striking her or brushing her with the side of the car. This is about her legs being cut from the ground by the motion of the speeding vehicle and breaking off the front bumper pieces. This is about her body being taken with the full force on top of the car, right in front of the driver’s eyes, braking the windshield, making a whole in it right in the middle of his vision and shredding it into millions of spider webs, so he can hardly see. This is about hood of the car being wrinkled by your child’s falling body like a piece of paper in a hand; this is about her flying cutting thru the cold winter wind before driver surpasses her. He never looks back, he continues his ride. He stops few blocks away. He says "my car is all...f up". He suffers little cut to his finger. His father states: "my son was upset about the car!!!" You cannot pass it thru your mind, you cannot understand or digest the fact that one could not be wondering or crying or being upset about hurting someone with such a big machine as Honda Odyssey is. Clearly by the look of that car he should have known that it could not be something insignificant. It had to be serious. But he doesn’t come back.
And then imagine yourself driving to pick your child up, anxious to see her, not knowing that at one point of your trip something horrible has happened to her, that this phone call she made to you was the last one she would ever make, that her voice you have heard for the last time, that this I- Phone she worked so hard for, she would never see and use, that the gold nose ring she really wanted she would never feel being put on her, that her big brown eyes would never look at you again, that her lips would never again say I love you mom or dad. A policeman tells you, she is unconscious; it was a hit and run. You looking at your beautiful child lying there and not moving, yet thinking she is okay, a combination of hope and denial. But then you notice her swollen legs, her jeans cut along them and that picture scares you, you do not know what is happening, you suddenly get hot you feel you are going to stop breathing, your body shaking, you feel like you are going crazy, you want to scream, but you can’t. Your child needs attention; not you. And there you stand, silently watching; paramedics pressing on her chest, checking vital signs, over and over and over again, her friends crying, your spouse walking back and forth, picking thru the hands, this doesn’t happen he says, and you think, what? What doesn’t happen? On the way to hospital you pray thousands of times, like a cold shower reality of your child not breathing hits you like a stone, you run to her bedside. Can you imagine holding your child’s foot and then a hand and rubbing it , bagging her not to give up, saying you can do it baby, please fight, fight for your life baby, please… Imagine having hope when there is none, up to the last electrical shocks of medical machines. Can you imagine seeing in the doctors’ eyes expression of giving up, but still trying, just for you, one more shock, and maybe one more? And until the last word is said, it is not over for you. You can feel it, in the back of your mind you know, but you can’t give up. Are you there with your child?
And then it comes…I’m so sorry….Doctors leave and you fall down on the floor holding on to your child’s hand and not letting go for three hours, feeling your whole world and your life crushing down on you. Like a snail you want to crawl into protective shell. You pull your husband’s shirt asking what now? What are we going to do now? How we are going to live? You give away sounds that you have never heard before. The pain and helplessness overwhelms you. And then you are numb, you sit still watching your breathless child, knowing she is not going home ever again. You get to chew ice chips, just as when you were giving birth to her. And then… you must say good bye, you must let go of her hand. Now you know that her back must have been broken, you know her organs are bleeding inside living the rainbow of blue, yellow, pink, red, grey colors on her belly so it hurts your eyes to look, and your own insides to feel. And just as you kiss her fingers, toes, forehead and nose, you take one last look on her half open brown lifeless eyes and you sniff her hair to remember the smell, you notice her fresh blood slowly leaking and covering inch by inch of fresh white hospital sheet right where her head is. And by the time you left, this piece of fabric became bright red and wet with the very liquid that used to provide her heart and body with necessary nutrients.
And then you come back to this quiet, empty, forever changed home. You get the phone call from organ donation organization, while the offender sits at the police station trying to make his story of that night events fit into his self planned protection plan. You sit on the little carpet by the kitchen sink trying to decide whether giving your child’s organs and tissues would be something that she at the age of 15, would want or wish. Can you imagine that when after hours of interrogation offender finally has told the truth, your child’s body was subjected to autopsy, and her organs have been checked and taken for further review? Although you know your child is a giver, it brings you relief to find in her writings proof that she supported the donor system, that you made painful but right decision.
And then you experience the sharing of tears, overwhelming feeling of loss, hundreds of people at the wake and funeral. There are people taking care of your other kids, you have no idea where they are with their own shock and grief. But then it is your firstborn child, your daughter, whom you have to lay to rest. You’re standing numb looking at the casket being lowered down, you throw flowers and dirt into the hole. Nothing matters anymore, nothing is scary. Are you with me? Can you feel the struggle and pain? If you do, please remember that you have the luxury of your subconscious mind knowing that this is not your reality, it is mine. You are only imagining.
Before Monia’s death I never knew that living can be a chore, a drag. I never realized that breathing and just existing can take so much energy . I have barely enough to deal with everyday needs of our children. I don’t believe that we will ever know how much of life I have lost due to this ordeal. I teach Polish dance to Polanie Ensemble, which Monia was part of since the age of four. She was one of the best. I feel so inadequate now, but I make myself continue practices. I lost my drive, enjoyment, determination, my muse to create and enthusiasm, but those dedicated young people who also feel this loss are there with me and together we keep going. That is what Monia would want me to do.
I had a plan to return to school last September for my degree in Education, but due to my inability to concentrate I couldn’t. I do not know anymore what I should pursue, as nothing makes sense to me. Life has lost its natural colors. I am wearing black because that is how I feel. As of the day Mr. Schuh killed my Monia I am in this dark tunnel . And at the end of this tunnel there is a little streak of light, that’s the light of my daughter’s existence. It is a long way ahead of me and with each day I take a step in this darkness. My eyes will adjust, I will slowly recognize the walls within this dark tunnel, and with each day I will learn to navigate in it. It is my prison. I often wonder if truly I ever be able to feel happy about memories that I have of my daughter. They are my treasures, but when I look at the pictures I can’t help but feeling sad, upset, and helpless. I cry.
Time will heal all wounds, they say. But I have met mothers and fathers 10 or even 20 years after their child died and they haven’t healed. Time passes and takes you away from the child who was alive and brings you closer to your eternal life with her. My wounds are like volcano. I never know when it will erupt, but I can feel it coming. My tears are like the hot lava that comes out and when there is no more, volcano is quieting down, for awhile. When others speak of their loss I see their volcanoes being as active as mine.
Have you ever had stomach flu?
This is how it feels to grieve your child. Those moments of not knowing what is happening to you, whether you are going to vomit, or just faint. Whether you should take a sip of water without feeling nauseated again.
Have you ever felt like your heart is racing so fast you feel that it will jump out of your body?
I have that felling when I open my eyes in the morning. Emotionally I feel like someone is physically ripping out part of that heart from my chest. It is very painful I feel like I do not have energy to scream.
Have you had a baby?
If you did, you learned all of hers or his cries: cry for food, cry for hug, cry for change, cry of pain, and cry for comfort. Do you know your own cries? I do. I have heard my cries, little tiny ones like a puppy whining for its mother, grasping air once in a while, in short strokes of high pitched tone, which evolves into child’s cry of being hurt. Then there is this constant sobbing that changes intensity and frequency as you go on, just as at childbirth your breathing becomes stronger and sometimes chaotic when contractions are too painful. And then there is this loud roar, which feels like a beast force trying to pull through my veins, my skin, my body, and I want it out, I want all of this pain to be out. I had a friend who asked me if I screamed at giving birth. No, I did not.. Ask me how much I have screamed of grief when no one was home with me? I can tell you: until my throat hurt enough that I could no longer give a sound. And when my kids were home I scream-cried hiding my face into the puffiest pillow and thickest bath towel I could find, so I would not scare them. My stomach hurts, and it feels like someone is poking and turning my insides with the fork . At night or morning we cling to each other like two orphaned children who comfort each other in forward and back soothing motion of the cradle.
I am scared for my kids being out in the world and being exposed to people like Mr. Schuh, scared everyday for my own and my husband’s safety, because we may be the best drivers in the world, but if some drunk driver cuts into our path that no longer matters. I am scared to drive. I cannot count times when I repeatedly said to my friends that I feel like I literally do not want to live. Those are the words that I would not let out of my mouth before. Think about it Mr. Schuh. Think about how lucky you are to be alive and be grateful. In jail or out you have a gift of life, you have a privilege of living and whatever you are doing with this gift it is up to you. When I am looking at my little daughter Kasia and I am thinking she is so cute, I do not feel the same intensity of happiness, as I used to, our family has this missing link I can see the difference in how less available my heart is. I go to a birthday party and a host tells me that there is a girl who looks like Kasia. I pull out the picture of Monia and she cannot believe how much this little girl looks like her. I pretend to make pictures of the party when in fact I want to capture the image of the kindergartner who looks like my Monia used to. My heart breaks and I am agonizing with temptation to tell girl’s grandparents about my daughter, but I say nothing. I shed my tears in the car.
I see Monia everywhere. We go to church and see a couple with their daughter. She looks like Monia did in 4th grade. I and my husband give ourselves the look of do you see what I see. We cannot take our eyes off of her. I wish that I could go to her and touch her. I have a piece of glass to kiss good night with my Monia’s picture underneath, I have a portrait of her, which I can touch before I go to bed. I lie on her bed, sniff her pillow, and talk to her. I say goodnight to her every night, but sometimes I go deeper and just say out loud Monia don’t stay up too long, you need to go to school tomorrow. During the day when nobody’s home I just yell her name pretending she is up in her room listening to music. I just want to hear the sound of her name being loudly spoken. Just to remind myself how it felt when she was alive.
We are missing Monia everyday. We have fresh flowers by her picture and burning candle all the time. Every night I imagine her sleeping in her bed, or lying on the floor with her notebook and pencil. Every practice that I teach Polish dance, I am seeing her lightly moving and rotating. Monika’s now 14 yrs old brother Martin has taken the role of the oldest child and his mother’s savior. He is comforting me every time he sees the need, he notices all of my little tweaks of the face, ready to cry eye and he is right there asking mama are you okay?, and he gives me hugs and kisses. This boy who could cry over someone not being nice to him before Monia died, stopped crying. He became a student who demands that no one gives him special treatment because of his sister death. Until this day he is unable to talk about it. He expresses his feelings sometimes thru drawings. He stops by the tree planted in his sister memory and thinks.
Martin and Monia shared a special relationship. As little kids they were constantly playing together. Monia always had a way of keeping it going without fights. As they grew to be teenagers their interests have changed, but it always made my heart warm to hear them giggle, laugh and talk in Monia’s room or by the computer. Adam is now seven and his heart is racing when he enters Monia’s room. I asked him why is your hart beating so fast, and he says he misses Monia. He cries his eyes out when he sees Monia’s name on the game, because she used to hold him when they played it. He tells his friends about his sister. When boys quarrel Adam cries and says that if Monia was here she would stop the quarrels. She always was a mediator between the three younger siblings. I love Monika so much, he says, my life was better with Monika, and now without her my life is worser, because when Martin hits me Monika says stop and Martin listens to her. She made everything better. I miss Monika. Kasia is six now and she proudly shows her friends a picture saying that Monia is an Angel. I lay down with her every night. She is scared. She has bad dreams and comes to our bed often. We have our evening talks and she asks me about Monia, where is she? When I explained to her that Monia is with God in heaven she asked me if we could go to her, she wants to talk to her. My eyes are tearing when right before Christmas Kasia says to Adam don’t disturb me I am wishing Monia back. And then Kasia tells me with the saddest voice, I miss Monia , I wished her back but she is not coming. Another time Kasia told me I wish that we could rewind this house. You know mommy like it was before Monia died.
I can see everyday how death of our daughter affects my husband. He had lost a lot of time from work, because he couldn’t concentrate on his business, he couldn’t make phone calls, and watch out for his interests. I see how much energy it takes for him to keep emotions in check, not let them come out, as this often leads to a breakdown or anger. It is very different for him then for me. He will burry himself in tasks of cleaning the house, staying busy, so he may suppress the feelings he is afraid of. His busyness alternates with total withdrawal and several consecutive days spent on the couch. There are feelings of profound sadness, anger, emptiness, but mostly hurt, that someone could kill his daughter and not care, not feel remorse or repentance.
But our ordeal doesn’t end there. For 14 months we have been coming to court to witness our daughter’s killer making requests and complaints, claiming his rights. Mr. Schuh, you have right to say what you want, but your responsibility is to tell the truth. And the truth you knew. What about having honor and decency to do the right thing? Can you imagine our pain? Do you care? What if that was your sister who was killed? I am sorry Mr. Schuh, but I cannot give you credit for taking responsibility, when you ran out of other options. There was a time that I would have, but you chosen not to give it a chance. At least three times in court proceedings I’ve heard your attorney asking judge to let you look for a job, to be free to go the work, yet you never chosen to ask the judge to let you visit Monika’s grave or to let you approach my family to express your remorse. Instead you have chosen to stare back at me when I was looking for it in your eyes. I searched for your soul. Your conscience should tell you. You did not even put your head down.I know that court did not allow you to approach Monika’s family, but the court order did not stop you from living your house and trespassing to someone’s vehicle months after killing Monika. It did not stop you from doing the wrong thing, but conveniently stopped you from doing the right one.
In March your attorney exclaimed that it is your 18th birthday, and I was sitting right there asking what is the importance of that? Monia would have been 16 on April 19! Nobody mentioned that! I’ve heard your attorney complaining that you are basically a prisoner in your own home… And I am asking shouldn’t that be a comfort? You have warm bed, food, and your family. You have books and computer to play or work on, you have it all. What does Monia have? A dark cold casket with a childhood bunny to keep her warm, she has an I-phone she cannot use, because her hands cannot pick it up and her mouth cannot speak. Would you rather be locked in that casket? Forever? Even in prison they give you food and shelter and work and programs… Would you choose the casket?
I want to ask people in this courtroom, if you had a choice between your child dying or going to prison for 29 years, which choice would you pick?
In May I witnessed the Judge giving Mr. Schuh a benefit of the doubt. He allowed him to go to work. Reading about offender’s choice to ignore restrictions, and break the law again has caused a great deal of upset and disbelief in my family. Obviously those weekly sessions with psychologist did not succeed. Sometimes the only way to learn is the hard way.
I hope that some day you will realize the full extend of your own wrongdoing and lock of the good human conscience Mr. Schuh. Monika Skrzypkowski is a victim of crime. It must be understood, that there is no separation between her, and offender.
Somewhere down the Elmhurst Road in Prospect Heights on December 6th 2008, Monika Skrzypkowski’s and Mr. Kevin Schuh’s lives connected forever. In her death she will always be a part of your life Mr. Schuh. She will always be your Shy Shadow. It is a natural consequence, if one has good conscience.
Everyone has to live with what they have done. But that is not why justice system was established. I truly hope for your sake Mr. Schuh and my own and both of our families that you will learn something from this mess that you have created for all of us.
To the parents of Mr. Schuh, I want to say: please know that there is a big difference between standing by a child, and protecting your child from consequences. Protection sometimes does more harm then good. And before you stare at my eyes again please remember that you are not the victim here. I encourage you to please look at Monika’s picture, and have your son look in the mirror. See if he can find the same peace and goodness in his eyes as Monika has.
As a mother I know that you will say and do anything today to protect your son from consequences, but you must know that he is the only one who can save himself. I believe that in some weird way my Monia will be there to help him in his journey.
I also have a request of the Schuh family. It is our Polish tradition that at Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we leave empty seat by the table and we set up dinnerware for unexpected guest, so he may feel welcomed. The old books say that people used to set it up in case of hungry soul showing up. This is my wish for your family to abide by that tradition. And on the plate there shell be a picture of Monika, as she now is as much part of your family as she is part of mine. In her memory Schuh family shell light a candle and say a prayer at that table. I wish that Schuh family visits Monika’s grave twice a year on around March 22nd, with the biggest bouquet of spring flowers and before Christmas with most beautiful wreath they can find to put on her grave.
Mr. Kevin Schuh, today I have to put my daughter’s death against your life. You have the power of chances and the power of choices. In itself it should be reward to you. Monika doesn’t have it anymore. You purposely chose the wrong action. To say that it was an accident is like breaking a neck while bongee jumping and saying that you had no idea it was possible. This wasn’t a mistake. Would you purposely mark wrong answers on the test, and expect grade A? When you have several options and do not know which one is right, you may mistake one for the other. But you consciously made choices against all odds, against your friends’ warnings, against the law. And now you are here asking for the odds to be in your favor. But those odds are in your favor already. You live, you have possibilities of making your dreams come true, and my Monia does not. You have rights …
I certainly hope and chosen to believe that justice will prevail, and you will learn that there are severe consequences for crimes committed, that when you put other people in danger
it is no longer about you and that other peoples lives matter even if they are dead.
Allow me to quote words from Agatha Christi’s autobiography: “What can we do to those who are tainted with the germs of ruthlessness and hatred, for whom other people’s lives go for nothing? They are often the ones with good homes, good opportunities, good teaching, yet they turn out to be, in plain English, wicked. Is there a cure for wickedness? What can one do with a killer?” Do I think you are wicked? As much as I may be able to reason that your feeling of being invincible led you to believe that you may drink and drive, I cannot reason that after no longer feeling invincible you would lock simple human reaction of good conscience and stop to help your victim. In this way I believe that, yes, you are wicked.
Your Honor, No matter what the verdict, my family will have no reason to celebrate, but relief and closure might come when justice is served. As a parent I care very much about my children’s future and the consequences of loosing their sister. I need to be able to see them grow to believe that every wrongdoing has its price and justice system is there for a good reason.
Today I wonder how sentencing decision will affect me, my family my friends, friends of Monia, families of friends of Monia, teachers who are teaching about behavior and consequences, little kids, friends of my little children, teenagers who are drinking and driving. It worries me that believe in our justice system is so low, that young people feel that they can get away with anything receiving so called slap on the wrist.
Today I still hope that Monika will change the world. If there was any purpose for her dying so young that is to change things for others. Her killer Mr. Kevin Schuh had shown a callus disregard for human life. This cannot be discredited. He also chose to ignore and disrespect the law after he was indicted. To me it is worse then any previous record. No words can change the facts, his actions speak lauder then words.
Anything that Mr. Schuh will receive today will be a merciful sentence, even if it is 28 years in prison. The message needs to be loud and clear for others. Statistics show that 80% of DUI fatalities are by the first time offenders.
We are the society of 2nd chances. But where is my daughter’s second chance? Can society give me that? Why killing second time around would be more punishable then the first time? Is the life of one person worth more than the other? And, would it make a difference to the court if Monika was 28 or 58 instead of 15 for the sentencing of the killer?
I and my family had to accept unacceptable, the death of Monika. The same way we will have to accept today’s sentence. We have no choice and we have no right to appeal. Please give us a just sentence. The one that will tell how much a life of an innocent person is worth, a sentence that will not discredit or undermine the job of the police officers, who are working so hard to keep us safe. A sentence that will be right enough to let others learn that crime does not go unpunished, a sentence that will restore faith in justice system in many people, and will bring belief in it to those young people who are just at beginning of their journey like Monia was; a sentence that will live up to a slogan “you drink you drive you loose”. Stiff enough so others would not attempt it.
On behalf of the Skrzypkowski family