A day in Juvenile Court

It’s amazing to think that so much has happened in the last week, but with the events of last Sunday and the arrest of those responsible, the next step in the process was venturing into the Georgia Juvenile Court system, last Friday, for the hearing with the minor that was responsible for shooting me with the BB gun on Father’s Day.

What was one of the most shocking things to me, other than the fact that someone was actually arrested, was the speed at which the juvenile justice system moved here in Georgia.  Considering the fact that the two people responsible were arrested at approximately 9:00 on Wednesday evening, it’s stunning to think that I would be in Juvenile court on Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. to give a statement about the case, but I digress.

One of the first things that I found out, after I arrived, was that the younger of the two defendants was from out of state.  This complicated matters since they needed to have some sort of guardian present to begin the case.  Once they had that matter sorted out, the next issue that arose was due to the fact that he was debating changing his guilty plea to the charges.  After a bit of time, he changed his mind again and decided to admit his guilt so that the process could move forward.

Once in the courtroom, there was another issue to resolve.  Since the juvenile was from out of state, the judge needed to know whether the state that they resided in would have to come and pick them up if she sentenced them to any further time than they had already served in juvenile detention.

While these matters were being resolved, the defendants father and grandparents sat in the courtroom with me (on opposite sides of the court) while the bailiffs, court reporter, clerk, and district attorney all went about normal conversation.  I guess that one of the things that I had never thought about, was the fact that these people are just doing a job like anyone else and when they have moments (when not on the court record) they could be just shooting the breeze like the rest of us do in our daily jobs.  To me, it was surreal and comical, but to the defendants family it had to feel like a gut punch each time someone laughed about their plans for the weekend.

The court proceedings moved along pretty quickly once all of the matters were settled.  I was allowed to speak to the court and let them know how the events of Father’s Day had impacted me.  It was a bit more emotional than I thought to discuss the events and talk about how much more aware I have been of noises that I hear when running, along with paying a great deal more attention to cars that drive past me since the shooting.  Also, I was able to bring in some pictures that showed where the BB hit my leg and the amount of blood that it caused.

The defendant, his grandparents, and his father were all able to speak after I was done and they expressed remorse and stated that he had never done anything like this before.  They said that he was a good kid and even was voted class president in his last year of school.

The judge spoke after this and said that she wanted to stress the seriousness of what he had done and the damaged that he had caused.  At that point, she said “I’m sure that as you sit there in leg irons, that you appreciate what you have done.”

To that point, I hadn’t really looked at him all that much, but it was shocking to me to see that he was sitting there in hand cuffs and leg irons.  He had walked in and out of the courtroom multiple times, but I never paid much attention to his legs or hands.

After addressing him, she stated that he would have to serve a 10 day sentence in juvenile detention in Georgia and would be put on probation back home when he had completed serving his time.  She concluded the proceedings by stating that he would not be allowed to speak to the other defendant during his probation and would definitely not be able to talk to me.

Now that everything is said and done with the first trial (the next trial won’t be for a few months according to the victim’s advocate that I spoke with,) I have to say that I feel that justice has been served.  I don’t think it would have been fair for him to have gotten off with just a warning considering what could have happened, and considering the fact that he hit me and had shot at another jogger before hitting me.  He knew what he was doing and needs to know that there are repercussions for his actions.

Now that this part of the ordeal is over, I can start the process of getting back to a “normal” running routine now that this part of the ordeal is over.  Not sure how long it will be, but you have to start somewhere.


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