Well, I’m back at work after the sentencing this morning and I’m not quite sure how I feel, but I’m glad I went. Had I not gone and witnessed what unfolded in the court house only to hear the final results on the news I’d probably be really pissed right now. Instead I’m feeling somewhat subdued and vaguely unsatisfied. Quite a few of us turned up for the sentencing including members from both sides of Bill’s family. Seiko had a pretty good turnout in his behalf as well.
Because he has no previous record and the court felt he had expressed remorse for his actions Seiko got two years probation, around 200 hours of community service, mandatory counseling, various court related fines and an order to pay restitution of an amount to be determined by the probation office.
The angry part of me feels he got off easy. I felt, as a minimum, that he deserved at least a year in jail. Something to give him some time to really reflect on just how much damage he had done in one blinding moment of irresponsibility. Sure he’s going to have to live with what he’s done for the rest of his life and hopefully he’s a decent enough person deep down that he cares enough to never forget the seriousness of what he’s done, but being inconvenienced for a couple of years doesn’t seem like it would drive the lesson home as well as a year in jail would.
There was an opportunity for friends and family to address the court with any statements they wanted taken into consideration prior to sentencing and Bill’s half-sister and mother both made statements. I wanted to stand up and say something, but by the time I had formulated what I wanted to say the opportunity had passed and that didn’t help my mood any. It was pretty clear when the judge read the sentence that she had already made her decision prior to the session so anything I would have said probably wouldn’t have made any difference anyway, but I still wasn’t happy with my lack of initiative. By the time we filed out of the court room I was once again pretty angry.
Both parties stuck around outside the court room after the sentencing for awhile and this is where the events took place that dampened my anger. It started with Seiko’s cousin and father and culminated with Seiko himself coming over to hug and apologize to Bill’s family and friends. They all seemed very sincere and I’d like to hope that they were. Bill’s mother seemed to appreciate the apology and expressed her belief that she didn’t think Bill would’ve wanted Seiko to go to jail. Some of the rest of us had to struggle with our mixed emotions between our anger and our sense of compassion, but everyone handled themselves well given the circumstances. One of Seiko’s family members told us he no longer planned to pursue a career in law enforcement because he didn’t think he could go back into it after what had happened, but there’s nothing stopping him if he should change his mind. That was one of the reasons I felt he deserved some jail time as that would have definitively ruled out a career in law enforcement.
The apologies went a long way toward lowering my resentment. If you’ve been following this since I first wrote about it you’ll know that the lack of an apology was one of the things I was most upset about. I’m not the sort to hold a grudge and a sincere apology can work wonders with me. Seeing him apologize to Bill’s mother and her acceptance of it helped me to come to terms with all of this. That’s why I’m currently feeling somewhat subdued and vaguely unsatisfied instead of angry as hell.
Seiko didn’t address me directly. I was probably still looking pretty angry when he walked up and it’s possible he’s been by this website and seen some of the angry words I’ve written about him. Considering it’s not hard to find pictures of me on the site he might have realized who I was and decided I was probably not someone he should try talking to. If he had my message would have been short and to the point: Don’t forget the second chance you’ve been given today. If he can do that then perhaps he’ll turn out all right in the end after all.