Waiting – Long and Painful
I want to express our deepest appreciation to every one who has been reading the blog, caring, praying and waiting to hear an update. The term ‘update’ in this situation has really translated to ‘waiting for yet another date’ to hear an update.
There’s a saying about being better off not knowing. I strongly disagree. Since 2012 we have lived with ‘not knowing’ what to expect. It is now 2017. 2017…and this case is still going on. And, we still don’t know what to expect. Not knowing is awful…it is a horrible way to live. I understand that none of us really know what’s going to happen. We could get hit by a bus, another saying. But, when you know that you’re waiting to hear news…test results…a decision that can change your entire life you can’t help but feel like your life is on hold.
In November we received word that the Supreme Court of Virginia denied hearing Drew’s appeal. I can’t put into words how devastated we were to receive that decision. We had been warned that the odds of an appeal being successfully overturned or remanded back for a new trial were very slim…about a 1% chance. But if you’ve read the blog then you likely understand why we have held onto the belief, the hope that since there is considerable reasonable doubt, and our son’s due process rights were violated, we believed that the justices would at least determine that a new trial was in order. They did not. How, why?
From the very beginning, July of 2014 when the trial judge granted Drew a freedom bond so he could await his appeal at home we knew the odds. Drew’s attorney never misled us into false hope. But he, like we believes in prayer and hope and trying. And he, like we believes in Drew’s innocence. We have watched him fight for our son at the appellate court, and at the state supreme court. He argued passionately and pointed out to the judges and justices that this case deserves to be overturned or remanded back for a new trial. We also listened as both courts pointed out their reluctance to question the trial judge’s decision, stating that the trial judge saw the two people involved, listened to their testimony and had made his decision based on that.
Like many of you we always thought that an appeal was ‘a fresh set of eyes’ looking at the case to determine if they would have come to the same decision. This is not correct. An appeal is ONLY about procedure. Was there a ‘procedural error’ during the determination of Drew’s guilt? It isn’t about the story, the facts about the story, the truth. It is only about procedure.
Since the appellate process is grounded in the examination of procedure a trial judge has a challenging obligation to the court. He or she listens to both sides and is forced to make a determination one way or the other. In my son’s case the judge made his decision based on the credibility of the witnesses. To properly examine credibility would have required a judge with an understanding of two important areas – the behaviors common with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (which my son has) and an understanding of BDSM submissive behavior (which the witness owned). When making a decision that can take away an individual’s freedom, safety, dignity, right to vote, ability for employment and every other impact of being labeled a felon and a registered sex offender, it is crucial for society to demand the proper training for judges, prosecutors and detectives regarding characteristics of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The stakes are simply too high. Kimberly Taylor, a retired judge from North Carolina, viewed this training as an obligation to the pursuit of true justice. The appellate process leans heavily upon Trier of Facts to consider how a disability manifests itself in testimony.
Drew’s attorney filed a motion to the Supreme Court of Virginia to reconsider hearing Drew’s appeal. We are told this is granted a very low percentage of the time. And, that once again…it is not about the story. It is about procedural error. I want to scream. I have screamed. And cried. And lost sleep, lost hair, lost weight. How, how can the story and the facts not be what is considered? My son’s life is at stake. How in the name of all that is decent and reasonable, how can this only be about procedural error?
So, as I write this “update” I am aware that what this really amounts to is another update to ask you to continue to please pray that the next update will be good news for Drew. We have no way of knowing when this will happen. We’re told that we should know something by the end of this month, January 2017.
In addition to the request to the state supreme court, Drew’s attorney has filed a motion for the trial judge to consider a revision to the sentence he imposed in 2014. His original sentence was 50 years, with 47 years suspended. This means that if the state supreme court does not hear Drew’s appeal, he will have 72 hours to turn himself over to serve at least a three year prison sentence.
The attorney has asked that the judge please consider allowing Drew to remain at home to serve the active portion of his sentence via in home incarceration. Letters have been filed along with the request addressing the risks and horrific impact incarceration has on people with an autism spectrum disorder. It is noted that Drew has been out on bond since October of 2012 without incident or violation. Hopefully, the judge will be in favor of an alternative to incarceration. Drew clearly is not a threat to society.
Thank you all again for being with us through this very long and painful process. We appreciate your support more than we can ever express. Support is not typical when the words ‘sexual assault’ are involved, whether the allegation is true or not. As a society we must make some changes. But that’s another post on another day.
If you’re new to this blog and aren’t familiar with the story please read and share. There is a link on the homepage to contact me via email, Facebook and Twitter.
We hope you and your loved ones will experience a New Year filled with love and good memories.