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Erin
Prewitt
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Letter to the Judge: Asking for a New Kind of Justice
by Erin Prewitt on May 12th, 2015

There is something telling me that I should share the letter I wrote on the day of sentencing for the woman, Shante Chappell, who killed my husband.  I originally read this back in June 2014 just before Shante was sentenced.  As I re-read this letter, I am finding myself just as passionate about its message as I did that June afternoon. 
 
Today I am trusting my intuition, and for the first time, I am sharing an excerpt of my Victim Statement:
 
 Long before I wrote this letter I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on what I wanted to say.  What would Chris want me to say and what I could say that would be in the best interest of our community?  However, the more I reflected the more I realized that the purpose of today in my opinion is what is in the best interest of Ms. Chappell. (Looking at Ms. Chappell) I hope you do not mind me calling you Shante.  April 6th will forever link Shante and me together for the rest of our lives.  I choose to believe that neither Shante nor I wanted anyone to pass on that day, especially someone like Chris.  
..Even as I stand here today in a courtroom where its design is to provide judgments, rulings, and sentencing I am cautious to stand before you and say I am in the position to judge Shante.  I do not feel qualified for that role; I do not know or understand what life has dealt her and how it has impacted her.  I have not walked a day in Shante’s shoes.  I feel compassion for Shante and feeling judged, because people have assessed my response to Chris’s death.  Many of these people have loved me through this process and acknowledged me for being brave, for staying in the world of the living…but there have been others who have judged me or assumed they understand what I am going through. Chris and I worked really hard to create a life of kindness and compassion and that has guided me through these past few months and most importantly my sentencing recommendation. 
I know that some will judge me today for my recommendation of Shante’s sentencing, but that is neither my concern nor my responsibility.  I ask those of you who want to judge me or Shante to know, you do not know what is like to be us.  What it has been like to walk in our shoes, live in our lives, and exposed to our loses and pains…I ask for those of you who would be quick to judge either of us to find compassion and grace to allow us to move through this process in our OWN way.  I ask that my family and friends, Shante’s family and friends, and the community at large trust us to make decisions that will both serve us as individuals and our communities.  How you can help this process is by bringing more compassion, love, and understanding that allows all of us to heal and grow.

 
So you may wonder why I did not share the entire letter.  I can tell you that I fully intend to share my entire letter, and many other intimate details about my experiences after losing Chris. It is my deepest hope to be able to publish it in a book.  I am actively seeking a publisher so I can share my entire journey (cross your fingers for me!!)


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