The last time I saw Heather was at the Rochester Kid’s Triathlon. She came bounding up to me beaming with pride, talking a mile a minute about how her 7 year old son was going to shadow another boy through the race that day. Think about that for a moment. Talk about a proud moment as a mother. Not only was her son competing…. at the age of seven he was already acting as a guide for someone else.
That’s how this family is. You before them. It’s in their blood. It’s who they are.
As we parted ways she grabbed me and said “Oh I just have to HUG YOU!” and I looked over her shoulder at her husband who was smiling himself. I remember thinking…. Heather I have never met anyone as excited as you are about life. And I will forever regret not saying that to her that day.
When news came the next morning that she had been killed it was more than a kick in the stomach for those of us who knew and loved her. As news trickled in as to HOW she was killed. Car and motorcycle. Both drunk. Hit by one and thrown into the path of the other. I remember grabbing something to hold myself up as I thought…. this can’t be happening.
It happened. It happened in the cruelest possible way.
For the past few days that feeling has returned. First with the Merkel verdict….. or rather non verdict. Then with the Scerbo joke of a verdict. Merkel walks free. Scerbo … while he gets a guilty verdict… it’s not the most severe one … which he deserved.
Reports began to swirl about Merkel…. allegedly calling local media and offering an interview for cash. Thank you to all of the medial professionals who quickly let us know: we don’t pay for interviews. No deal. If it’s true that she’s looking it’s completely smashed the hope that the second chance she has been given will actually hold.
The worst came at 9:30 last evening when Evan Dawson and Sean Carroll from 13 Wham News secured an interview with the jury foreman. I again have to thank these guys… and many others for their tireless reporting from the courtroom. Through Twitter they have allowed us to follow along closely. We appreiate that more than they understand.
The jury foreman stated
- the prosecution didn’t prove that Scerbo drove drunkenly. Recklessly yes, but they needed more.
- witnesses said Scerbo was popping wheelies & swerving with intention, no alcohol on his breath, no slurring of speech…
- Had he known of Scerbo’s criminal history, he may have reached a different conclusion.
- As we saw it, .18 BAC was enough to prove DWI, but we needed more evidence to go with aggravated vehicular homicide…
With all due respect to the foreman and the jury….. because I understand that your job was unthinkable and difficult. It was clear that you took a good amount of time to do what you believed to be right. But there is one thing that really stands out to me…. and this was not your fault.
Had he known of Scerbo’s criminal history, he may have reached a different conclusion.
Why does that stand out to me? Because this is Scerbo’s FOURTH DWI. The jury was not allowed to know that. From what I understand….. please forgive me and correct me if I am wrong….. but it was the judge’s decision to not allow Scerbo’s previous criminal history to be presented to the jury.
*** I did recieve some clarification on this, which was very appreciated. As I understand it… and please…. leave a comment below to correct or clarify further…. that there were certain parameters in which the pror DWI’s could have been presented, however those were not met. And as I understand it…. it wasn’t that the judge said “Hey, no way can this be included.”. I think as I stated it above I made it sound that way. Judges of course have far better and more intricate knowledge of how exactly this works…. much better than I do. I think it’d be helpful to really understand how that process works (again…. comments welcome below)….. but I do not intend to place blame on a judge who is someone I truly do respect and believe is the kind of man who does the right thing.
As you remember Scerbo had been let out of jail twenty days previous to the day he killed Heather Boyum.
How on this earth…. is that not important to what happened?
I am just a regular girl…. I did not go to law school. But I don’t think it takes being valedictorian of Harvard Law to see the great big hole that exists right here. Clarification on how that happens is extremely welcome.
To me the most IMPORTANT piece of evidence is that this was a fourth DWI. And that 20 days passed between the release from jail and the killing of Heather Boyum. I don’t understand how that is NOT important.
That is not the only thing that was not allowed into evidence….. but in my opinion the most critical.
Devastated….. isn’t the right word. Disappointed…. is not strong enough. Stunned…. doesn’t even cover it. If you look back through the year at the big DWI cases that have occurred in this area:
Buffalo: The Corasanti case. You will need to sit down to be reading this one.
The man who hit Kevin Royston, left him for dead and took one of his legs…. actually pleaded guilty and that’s the only reason he’s in jail… had Mr. Royston not lived to tell…. who knows where this would have ended up.
I am very sure there are many more.
The fact that Scerbo had been in jail THREE TIMES ALREADY…. is enough to prove to me that the consequences of driving drunk…. are meaningless.
Heather’s husband Eric has shown more grace, courage and strength than I could ever be capable of. How this family has held it together through testimony that made me scream out loud is a statement to who this family is.
Click here for the full interview with Mr. Boyum. You will watch that and see for yourself the kind of people the Frazer / Boyum family are.
I have no words. My faith continues to hold on by a thread. I have lost faith in our justice system. The jury did the best they could with what they knew…. and again forgive me if I am wrong…. correct me if I am wrong… but an elected judge got to decide the pieces of what they knew and what they didn’t. Which all circles back to the loss of faith that our system is fair and just. Because if you step back and look at all of this…. it’s so obvious that fairness and justice in this state …. don’t even exist.
There are two children…. young children who have been without a mother since July 29th. It’s a hole in their life they will never be able to repair. Their mother was taken from them in a horrifying manner. The people who took her…. don’t really have to pay the consequences. Merkel got a clean slate and a fresh chance.
Heather never stood a chance. Her kids don’t get to have that chance.
When is Heather’s second chance?
As the anger has risen to the surface this week….. I keep asking myself…. what would Heather do if she were here? What would Heather do? And I hate the answer because all I want to do is fight and scream and be angry. I think Heather would be the calming force. The one who puts her arms around every single person involved in this case. And she would find the good in it. Right now it’s absolutely impossible for me to see ANY good in it. She would.
Because that is who she was.
The best way I can honor her is to do my best to do that too. Right now I am incapable. Maybe tomorrow…. or the next day….. or the next god willing.
On July 29th we all vowed to institute change. Much has been done….. but not enough. Now that this trial has ended we have more fuel to our fire. We just need to figure out what we are going to do and how we will do it.
Until then…. we must remain Heather Strong. Like she was. Like her family is. That…. no one can take away from us.
I think a lot about the last day I saw her. I can still hear her voice, I can still feel her hugging me. I can still feel the excitement about life and the love and pride she had for her husband and her children. She just wanted to live every moment to the very fullest.