Sentencing

It is the day after Steve’s killers were sentenced to a combined 165 years in prison. I woke up to sunshine in Marin County after a long, deep sleep. The legal process is over, was my first thought. But my heart is still heavy from the intensity of sitting in the court room, hearing the statements from Steve’s beautiful kids, Audrey Carey’s mother Isabelle and addressing the killers directly myself.

It was heartbreaking, all over again to hear of their pain and anguish and the impact the murders had on their lives.

There were many police officers in the room as the prisoners were brought in, one by one, with chains rattling around their feet, their middle and hands as they entered the room. It was an eerie sound, which was both oddly comforting and terrifying.

The three convicts had become overweight, pasty people with long, strange, slimy hair. What do they do in jail, I wondered – eat all day and don’t move at all?

There were so many tears, and emotions. As I walked up to the prosecutors’ desk to deliver my statement, I felt powerful; my red jacket my “Coat of Armor”, as a friend had described it. I opted to stand and speak freely, instead of sitting and reading a statement. While the rule of the court is that one must address the judge, I was allowed to occasionally look over to the prisoners who sat close by to the right.

It was very intense. I heard my own voice speaking loudly, slowly and clearly to those present. My body was trembling but my voice was strong and firm. The acoustics in the courtroom are not that good, I remembered from last time that people in the audience could not hear what I said. So I spoke extra loud. Later, I realized that it had come across as angry, rather than just loud. Ah well. I guess that was a good thing, in some way, because the anger is there, too.

Then my impact statement video was played. It was recorded five weeks after Steve was killed, when I thought that I might be dead by the time the sentencing comes around – from cancer, from a broken heart, from a broken life. As you will imagine, it is a very sad document of what I went through back then, so close to the murder.

As the video was played I sat in-between the two prosecuting attorneys. Seeing the video on the big screen – me with a bald head, completely bereaved, traumatized and in shock – it was very confronting. Self doubts crept in – was the video too long? Did I say the right things? Should I have said more about who Steve was? The voice of my inner critic was loud but luckily disappeared pretty soon.

Sitting where I was, I had 17 minutes of uninterrupted views of the three murderers and their attorneys. Angold, who was closest to me, had his head down the entire time. The press later wrote that he was crying. All I heard was him sniffling. He certainly did not use any Kleenex to blow his nose or wipe away his tears!

Then came Lila Alligood. 19 years old. She sat there, her face contorted in a crying position, tense, sad, her nose red. Of the three, I sensed the most humanity in her.

Then Lampley – looking like a dead shell of a human being. No movement, no emotion. Nobody’s home. Later, in the press coverage, I saw a close-up video of him where he looked over the rim of his thick glasses, and to me, his eyes looked like those of a cold-blooded killer if I’ve ever seen one, a severely mentally disturbed man.

My heart was beating loud but I felt powerful. The crimes they committed are horrific, senseless, evil, unforgivable, but I felt sorry for them, too, sitting there looking at them. Sorry that they ruined their lives. Sorry that they had such a difficult life that they had to do the horrific things they did. That they will live in the most horrible places – hell on earth, I said in my statement.

The prisoners and their attorneys also had the opportunity to speak. Angold’s attorney read some statement from him about shame and guilt. Ah well. Lila Alligood delivered her own statement of apology, speaking freely, how sorry she was, she cried. I take my hat off to her; at least she had the guts to speak herself rather than have her attorney read something!

Lampley’s attorney read a letter that I had already received a few days before the hearing. Who knows who wrote that letter, it sure did not sound like it came from the person who I saw in that courtroom yesterday! In any case, the one sentence that resonated with me, somewhat, was “I hope you can find peace some day”. Yes, I can.

After the court session was over, a journalist outside asked me how I felt about the statements from the killers. I said it left me with nothing. I just felt empty. No emotions.

Finally it was time for the sentencing. I had imagined that each of the prisoners would be asked to stand to receive their sentence, like they show on TV. Defendant, please rise! But I guess that is only part of the movies. Judge Simmons read the sentences matter-of-factly and the prisoners were led out of the room.

I sat there as the court room slowly emptied out, the video equipment was taken down, papers were shuffled around and put on shelves with wheels, computers closed, cell phones checked. It was like sitting in a movie theater after the intense film is over. Life goes on around me, and I am still sitting there. Fully present, wide awake and at the same time totally drained.

I was one of the last people to stand up. I knew that outside the court room was a throng of journalist, waiting for the family. The others, my family, had decided they did not wish to face the media but I wanted to. The final thing in this process.

The media have been nothing but excellent and kind and amazing in their reporting of these unspeakable crimes, and I felt I owed it to them to be seen.

I took a deep breath and stepped through the large door. Flashes, cameras, large video equipment, lots of journalists, and microphones were pushed in my direction. I felt strong, clear, and yes – even attractive. I knew I looked good on camera, I had chosen my outfit carefully. (One does think about things like that, even in such extreme situations!) Plus I have no fear of cameras. I can do this! Yes, even after my beloved’s killers were just sentenced to spend a million lives in hell.

I would have liked to have answered everyone’s questions, but somehow I found myself on the arm of the main investigator at the elevator before I knew it. Couldn’t even hug my friends goodbye who had come in support and their own quest for some closure. Everything happened so quickly.

Then, after a brief conversation with the prosecutor, it was done. Over.

I walked out into the sunshine with my lovely sister, who had come all the way from Denmark to be with me at this intense time. We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting by the water in Sausalito, decompressing, eating ice cream, watching the sea and the birds and the people, life continuing as normal.

If you are interested to read my verbal statement to the court, click here. I am still considering if it is appropriate for me to share the video impact statement. Probably not.

 

 

 

35 replies
  1. melantha
    melantha says:

    I cry all over again at the horror…then I feel my heart and the friendship and love I feel for Steve and you, dearest Lokita, and for Coco, though I have not met her, I know her through you…then I can breathe again and be so grateful that you are you. Thank you for being you and for sharing so truthfully, wisely and deeply.

    Reply
  2. Sherry chilcutt
    Sherry chilcutt says:

    Much love to you Lokita. Hank and I have been sending you love and witnessing your journey from a far. I so appreciate your blog.

    Reply
  3. Leslie Gillin
    Leslie Gillin says:

    My heart goes out to you and Coco, Lokita. Words cannot express my tears. The myriad of emotions sitting there in the courtroom face to face with Steve’s murderers. Unfathomable. Your bravery!
    Thank you for sharing your story with us. ❤💗❤

    Reply
  4. linda zimmerman
    linda zimmerman says:

    I saw you on the news last night; sooooooooo PROUD of you. Your writing makes me feel like I was also a witness and stirs up feelings of amazement at your strength as many emotions course through my being.
    Thank you for letting us into your world…the good, bad and ugly..
    Namaste

    Reply
  5. John F
    John F says:

    Dear Lokita, I hope that you are able to move on now as best as it is possible. It was an honor to know you and Steve. I think of you often and it helps me put my own life in perspective. Your legacy lives on with all of us who had the pleasure of working with you both. Your work lives on. Love and best wishes.

    Reply
  6. victoria
    victoria says:

    Such a dear sacred life that is well lived. Thank you so very much for your
    courageous forthright living with fierce Grace. Transmuting the negative into
    positive loving energy fostering love compassion and understanding. I so look forward to
    reading your blog posts.

    Reply
  7. Holly and Brian
    Holly and Brian says:

    I read the news this morning, and then your blog. You speak the truth in my heart, as well, dear SIster.

    Loving you so much…

    Reply
  8. Carolyn Arnold
    Carolyn Arnold says:

    Lokita dear,
    Sending you huge hugs and much love for going through all this yesterday so strongly, gracefully, with an open heart and eye on both yourself and everyone involved, and for sharing it with all of us. It touched me that you wore your Coat of Armour and that you wanted to be available to the journalists and were. I saw your picture in the Chronicle today before I saw your blog, and I thought how amazing that you were there. Your account adds such depth to the story of the sentencing day and what it meant. I’m so glad you had a such sweet time in Sausalito afterwards with your sister. Love, Carolyn

    Reply
    • Carolyn Arnold
      Carolyn Arnold says:

      Beautiful courtroom statement – such clarity and honesty. I love your knowing that you will live your life in peace and gratefulness. I know you will.

      Reply
  9. Nicki
    Nicki says:

    You are truly a brave, strong and inspirational being, I watched the news clip and was in awe of your eloquence and grace in such a difficult moment . Much love true you x

    Reply
  10. Lorn
    Lorn says:

    Well done Lokita ! You are a brave and sensitive human being. Lots of love goes out to you and Steve where ever he is now! I miss him profoundly!
    Hope this has given you a little more closure.

    Reply
  11. Susan Pascal Beran
    Susan Pascal Beran says:

    We, my husband and I, were thinking about you and praying for you yesterday. In the past year, he has gotten a job at the civic center and so was on the fringes of all the frenzy. I have just always felt close to you and your beloveds (Steve and Cocoa), having been slain here on our sacred mountain, such beautiful light souls facing such darkness. I know I told you about having lost my first husband to cancer, but I don’t think I told you about what happened the day after the murder, before I had even heard about it. All I knew was early that morning our hills and valleys came alive with the bee buzzing of helicopters and motors of all sorts. I know now that they were coming the area for the suspects in case they were still there. I was out, very early, in my back yard feeding my daughter’s rabbits; it was under a mile from where Steve was shot. I am a largish woman, with shoulder length blond hair and that morning my hair fell in unkempt rivulets around my head; I had not brushed to go feed the rabbits in my back yard at 6:30 a.m., In fact, I was still in my p.j.’s, and maybe looked younger than normal, at least from above. That is probably why the helicopter lowered spinningly above me, creating a tiny tornado in my yard to see me up close. I just remember looking up at this wasp-like machine spiraling in our own private vortex a few hundred feet above me, seeing someone scrutinizing me suspiciously, and being caught in this etherworld where suddenly I knew something vey horrible had happened for this to occur. The vortex took my breath away, and, like the reverberations from an earthquake, shook me to the core. Then you, your beautiful and poignant face, story and words, rising and resisting that vortex, the twisting mad energy that could break others in two, walking tight rope style on the edge of your tight light, your spiritual laser. I have wanted only to buouy you, dear sweet one, feeling marked by that morning and my sister’s trial. The trial you have endured, is a trial in so many ways. I pray it has delivered you, mostly, and pray you will continue to prevail. Thank you again for sharing your process, your pain, courage, and mostly your incredible love. Truly, it is your faith and love that cleanses, not only your own way, but all whom you have touched. Feel free to reach out to me, if ever you want to walk with a sister and share. As I said before, I thought to buouy you, but you have buouyed me. Let me return the favour, if ever you need.
    Namaste, dear one.

    Reply
  12. Lourdes
    Lourdes says:

    Heart break that will never fully close; it will always leave a scar on all of us that love you and loved Steve so much.

    Reply
  13. Rebecca L Kuga
    Rebecca L Kuga says:

    You are a brave, fierce and compassionate woman. It is an honor to have made your acquaintance in our Spanish class last year.

    Reply
  14. Amy Bates
    Amy Bates says:

    I saw you on the Channel 2 news this morning, and was transfixed. You did an amazing job. You are one of the bravest people I have ever seen.

    Reply
  15. Marcus
    Marcus says:

    I am so so sorry this happened to you and your relations dear Lokita, I wish you well with the remainder of your recovery and the balance of your journey.

    Reply
  16. Susan Douglass
    Susan Douglass says:

    Oh Lokita! Thank you a thousand times over for sharing your experiences through this wrenching life journey, always including the vulnerable and the strong, the outrage and the deep acceptance. I have been inspired by every single one of your blog entries. I love the way it’s kept me feeling connected to you and to Steve and to myself. Sending you love.

    Reply
  17. AC Braddock
    AC Braddock says:

    Lokita, my husband and I were privileged to take a class from you and Steve in Oregon. I have followed this process and you and Steve are still inspiring. My heart is with both of you from the moment we met and still to this day and beyond.

    Reply
  18. Karen Madsen
    Karen Madsen says:

    Dear Lokita, I have followed your journey through this nightmare and greatly admire your strength, courage and vulnerability to share your deepest feelings. Your statement to the court said it all — speaking your truth so loudly and clearly — I was riveted by your words and so proud of you. You were not afraid to say what needed to be said.

    All my very best to you as you continue to move your life forward.

    Reply
  19. Mary Spilsbury
    Mary Spilsbury says:

    Lokita, Thank you for this. I don’t know you but we are members of the same community. I have prayed for you, cried for you, sent so much love to you. You walked that path with grace and dignity. You are a very bright light and Steve picked a warrior. I bow to you. As a wife, as a woman, as a breast cancer survivor, as a human being wrangling with this wounded world, I feel for you. Love to you and wishes for many more ice cream cones by the bay with those who love you deeply.

    Reply
  20. Sue Tobias
    Sue Tobias says:

    Lokita- you are so powerful and so clear throughout this horrible and traumatizing ordeal. And then to see you decompressing, eating ice cream and watching the sea, the birds, the people and appreciating the life all around you – so present and so amazing! Sending you my love and hugs and wishes for healing and joy. Sue

    Reply
  21. Kate
    Kate says:

    Lokita, sending you so much love. Your courage and strength and beauty and honesty and vitality are so amazing. Deep bow. You embody such grace. May you exhale now and be free.

    Reply
  22. Ken
    Ken says:

    I’m glad it’s over.
    You have to be one of the strongest women I know.
    I wish for blessings to come to you.
    You deserve a wonderful life.
    Take it. It’s yours.

    Reply

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