Today was pretty interesting. I didn't take notes or anything, so this blog entry will just be my recollections of what I saw on the streaming video. Darren didn't get to speak today, but his lawyer did manage to drone on for a bit. I didn't really hear a plea for "mercy" from him, just more of the same about how the plea wasn't allowed to be retracted and how everyone has done "poor Darren" wrong. Then Mr. Lalli got up and spoke for a bit, essentially asking the judge to give Darren the max allowable.
Then the victim impact statements came. First up was the assistant to Judge Weller, Annie Allison. She spoke about how much her life has changed since the attack on Judge Weller. How she is afraid to have open windows. Keeping the curtains closed in her home, the blinds closed in her office, getting dark tinting on her car windows because she feels afraid that another bullet will come through and hurt or kill her or her family. Heartbreaking.
Next was Judge Weller. He read a letter from his wife who was afraid to come to court to read the statement herself. Another heartbreaking litany of fear because of Darren's attack on her husband. Then Judge Weller read his statement. Starting from when he was standing in his office talking to his assistant and suddenly being struck by the bullet fragments and seeing the blood and tissue coming out of his chest and all the way through going to the hospital and his fears at the time that he would never be able to be with his family again. More heartbreak. Then Mr. Lalli showed a video of the last hearing of the Mack's before Judge Weller. It wasn't at all what I expected after listening to Darren's rants about how unfair Judge Weller is and how horrible he treated Darren... The video looked like it was a very fair hearing with Judge Weller doing his best to give both sides what they needed.
Next up was Charla's brother, Chris Broughton. He wants to refer to his sister by her birth name. He doesn't want the "Mack" name associated with her. He talked about seeing his sister's body, having to choose a casket for her and says that he'll be forever haunted. He expresses his anger at Darren and the fact that he has shown no remorse at all and requests that the judge give Darren the harshest sentence available. More heartbreak just watching the poor young man. Chris's last words were "May he die in prison!".
Then Charla's father, Jan Sampsel spoke. He spoke about not ever having his daughter again because "she is dead" because of Darren Mack. He speaks about how dangerous Darren is because of his feelings for those who go against him. He talked about how the other lawyers that Mack fired, the prosecutor, this current judge, Charla's family, any of them could be Darren's next targets. Just like Judge Weller was his target because Darren didn't get his way.
Then, Soorya, Charla's mother stepped up to read her statement. It was so hard to listen to without tears in my eyes. How Charla and her were best friends, how close she was to Charla and her brother. And so much much more. And Darren just sat there with his chin in his hand listening, and often leaned over and talked to his lawyer. Unbelievably, the camera kept showing Darren's brother sitting in the gallery smiling and smirking at what Soorya and everyone else was saying. Soorya talked about her health problems since Charla was murdered. Scabies on her legs, asthma condition that she'd never had before, throat problems and so on... At the end of her statement, she requested that a song be played that Charla had recorded for Darren. Charla's voice was beautiful. The song was beautiful. And it brought tears to a lot of people's eyes, including the prosecutor, Mr. Lalli. But not to Darren's eyes. The only "tears" I saw in Darren's eyes for the past two days were "crocodile" tears. He turned them on and off so fast that if you blinked, you missed them.
Then the court recessed for 30 minutes so the judge could make his decision. When Judge Herndon came back, he spoke at length about what it takes to come up with a sentence. Not just for this case, but for all cases in general. I never knew that there were so many considerations that a judge has to look at to come up with a "fair" sentence for a crime. I like this judge. He spoke so eloquently and in terms that everyone could undertand. He spoke about why he let Darren speak for so long yesterday, he was waiting to hear something that Darren never said. "I'm sorry". Darren at no time said he was sorry that Charla was dead at his hands, he never said he was sorry for what Judge Weller or his assistant, Annie had to go through, he never said he was sorry for what Charla's family or even his own family has had to go through. He never said he was sorry for his children. Remorse? No, Darren has NO remorse for any of it. My comment about that is that he never even showed remorse in his face the whole time he's been sitting in those courtrooms. He's only sorry for himself.
Anyway, the sentence: Judge Herndon gave him Life in prison, eligible for parole in 20 years for Charla's murder. The judge had no choice in this one, it was part of the plea deal that Darren wants to retract. For Judge Weller's attempted murder, the sentence is 20 years, eligible for parole in 8 years. For using a gun to commit the attempt on Judge Weller, it's another 20 years, eligible for parole in 8 years. All sentences to run consecutively! So, even if he is lucky enough to have parole granted at the minimum sentences, he'll be in prison for 36 years. Lets see. Darren is 46? 47? Add 36 years... He'll be very lucky to walk out of those prison gates.
Update: If you follow the link for Trials and Tribulations that I have in the links to other blogs, you'll find a more complete story of the hearing today... I am not as good as those folks are at transcribing a trial... lol, I'm just an old former trucker/former CAD drafter who watches trials as a hobby....
Another Update: On the InSession message boards, dref99 posted her complete notes for the hearing today: Dref's Notes Thread