This morning I finally gave my Victim’s Impact Statement! I wasn’t too nervous since I had some amazing support with me in the courtroom and in spirit. My friend Scott who is an attorney was there and gave me a lot of great advice for addressing the judge and the defendant as well as reminded me that our Blessed Mother was there with me. The district attorney who worked on my case during the preliminary hearing was also there and was also very encouraging. All of your prayers calmed my nerves and gave me the strength to stand up and speak. I’m so grateful for all the love, prayers and support you all have given to me during this difficult time!
Since the defendant has a new attorney (who finally showed up this morning!) the sentencing hearing and their appeal for a new trial has been continued to March of next year so he can have time to read the trial transcript and figure whether they will request a new trial, and, if so, on what grounds. Even though the Defendant’s legal maneuvering delayed her sentencing – again – the judge allowed me to deliver my victim’s impact statement since I flew all the way from Michigan to do so. During the hearing the defendant was busy smiling at her friend and family member who were there whispering to her and taking pictures of her in court until the Bailiff took their camera phone away. The defendant was very callous and nonchalant about what was going on, often smiling. She did, however, listen intensely while I spoke. After I finished she wanted to make a statement of her own, and asked the judge if she could do so. The judge was going to allow the exception (since she made one for me) all the while cautioning her and her attorney that anything she said could still be used against her. In the end she decided not to speak. While this was happening, one of the defendant’s family members turned around to me and gestured for me to pass my info to him! I was shocked since neither she nor her family are allowed to have any contact with me. When we left the courtroom her family member and friend were trying to stay very close to us, listen to us, and intimidate us. They were speaking very loud trying to get my attention and were waiting around for my attorneys and friends to leave probably so they could approach me. My attorneys and friends who were there were all tall (except for Irene the DA for the preliminary hearing) and shielded me from them. We had to move down the hall but the defendant’s family members still followed us and the DA even blocked the elevator until the door closed. Thankfully, a police officer was also in the elevator with us. This trial just keep getting crazier & crazier!!! But everyone there said my impact statement was effective and everything went well. The judge paid close attention to what I was saying and appeared moved when I told her about what it was like being cut in the hospital, and how much pain I still feel today. Here is what I said (as much as I can remember):
My Victim’s Impact Statement:
Good morning your honor. My name is Rosario Rodriguez. I would like to share with you how the events of June 29th have affected my life and then say a few words to the defendant. On June 29th I was robbed and shot in the chest by the defendant. The bullet missed my heart by one centimeter. The fragments of the bullet hit my lungs and they collapsed. It crossed my chest and tore my esophagus. I nearly died. I was rushed into surgery. They took muscle from my side and used it to patch my esophagus. The surgery took 8 hours. After I got out of surgery I could barely keep my jaw up on my own I was so weak. The days in the hospital I was in intense pain and very week. When I was released I couldn’t walk on my own and everyone had to do every thing for me. As you can see I’ve come a long way. But I’m still in constant pain from my incision. There is a lot I still can’t do. I can’t lift my luggage or carry bags that are too heavy. I can’t reach for things high in a cupboard. I’m still not yet fully independent and have to rely on others for many things. I’m in intense physical therapy and as I’m worked on tears from the pain stream down my face.
To the defendant: I want you to know that I have forgiven you for what you have done to me but I hope and pray that you come to take responsibility for your actions. I hope you realize that you nearly killed me. That your actions didn’t just nearly took my life but they affected many people… my family, friends and people from all over the world. Many times as I hold my cousin’s baby I think that you were one centimeter away from my cousin only telling her baby stories about me and that she may not have ever known me. You could have caused my parents so much pain if they had to bury me in the ground. I hope you can come to realize just how much your actions affect other people and know that what you did was wrong and come to change your life. Like I said I do forgive you and I pray for you every day that you may come to know the incredible love, mercy & forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ.