My lawyer was trying to use what I had to say, to paint a picture for Colonel Grainger.
A picture of a broken, messed up addict.
A kid who came from a good home, but fell off the straight and narrow path.
A person who was remorseful for his stupid actions, and willing to accept punishment for his crimes.
I don’t know if what you are about to read, helped or hurt the Judge’s decision in sentencing.
I just look at it and think how pathetic I must have sounded to everyone.
Captain Jokinen told the the Judge that I would be making an unsworn statement from the counsel’s table.
I was asked about what it was like growing up in my parent’s house.
I reiterated things that my father had said during his testimony. “We had a good relationship, I went to church all the time with my family and I would do everything I could to be a better person.”
Jokinen: “Do you fault your family in any way for the trouble you got yourself in?”
Me: “No, I don’t, sir.”
Jokinen: “They’re not to blame?”
Me: “No, sir, not at all.”
My lawyer asked me about why I started going from Fort Polk to Alexandria.
I told him that I attended high school in that town and so I was driving there to reconnect with some old friends.
I started going to the night clubs with some fellow soldiers and so between the two I was surrounded by familiar faces.
Jokinen asked how I was introduced to drugs. “A friend of a friend gave me some X for free and so I tried it.”
Jokinen: “What was the effect of the first tablet?”
Me: “It was total ecstasy, that’s why they call it ecstasy. It’s — you think — okay, well I’m sure you — you think everybody likes you and you just — everybody loves each other and it’s — it’s really good.”
Jokinen: “Once you tried ecstasy why did you continue?”
Me: “I liked it, sir. And the more and more I took, I started becoming addicted to it, sir.”
Jokinen: “Your addiction led to your distribution?”
Me: “Yes, sir.”
Jokinen: “Could you describe your personal use during this period of time? Did it change at all?”
Me: “The more I could get the more I took, sir. Near the end I was taking three or four pills of ecstasy a day sometimes. And if I had it, I’d take two or three hits of LSD a day every day, sir.”
Jokinen: “Did your drug use change at all while you were on an AWOL status?”
Me: “It got more and more — it increased. I didn’t have any job to go to so I was high every day almost.”
Jokinen: “You were self-medicating?”
Me: “Yes, sir.”
Jokinen: “Did you ever try to stop and say, ‘this is getting out of control?'”
Me: “I tried to one time — I can’t remember what month it was — I said, ‘I need to quit, you know, this is ridiculous.’ And I stopped taking ecstasy, which I am addicted to. But it got — I was suffering withdrawals and I tried to — I took some LSD instead and I started getting high again and then I just started taking ecstasy again.”
Jokinen: “Now in you drug business, how were you handling stuff? I mean you’d buy so many tablets or so many hits of LSD. How would you distribute that stuff?”
Me: “I’d have it all on me and I’d carry it into the club with me. If somebody would come up to me at one, I’d give it to them for whatever the price was.”
Jokinen: Let’s say you by a hundred hits of LSD. How much would actually make it into commerce — you know — distribution?”
Me: “Maybe fifty hits, sir”
Jokinen: “What would happen to the rest of the stuff?”
Me: “I’d eat maybe twenty-five percent of it, sir, over the time it would take for me to sell it.”
Jokinen: “So far you have been able to recall some specific events. But there was a lot of fog there. Are there periods during the time you were AWOL you were just so medicated you don’t recall anything?”
Me: “Yes, sir, several times — several weeks.”
Jokinen: “Did you ever have any bad experiences — I mean did you ever contemplate ‘This is it. I can’t take it anymore.’ — killing yourself?”
Me: “Oh, I contemplated suicide often — maybe every two weeks. I just couldn’t handle it any more for a while, sir.”
Jokinen: “Do you still have a drug problem?”
Me: “Yes, sir.”
Jokinen: “Now I imagine in a few minutes the government is going to make an argument that you’ve got quite a lucrative business you’re running here. What do you have to show for everything you did during this period of time?”
Me: “Bad memories, sir. I have nothing — no money, sir.”
Jokinen: “Why did you choose to remain in contact with your family?”
Me: ” I didn’t want them to worry about me. I wanted to make sure they knew I was okay, that I was still alive.”
Jokinen: “Did you know that you were putting your family through living hell while you were AWOL?”
Me: “Yes, sir.”
Jokinen: “How do you think you made your father feel — you know — who obviously has done very well in the Air Force, to be requested to come to his own son’s court-martial, with that message floating down through command channels?”
Me: “Very disappointed — I’m sure he’s very disappointed with me but — and maybe in his job I’m sure it was an embarrassment for him.”
Jokinen: “Is there anything else that you wish to tell the Judge?”
Me: “I have a statement that I — I wrote this down in jail. I’d like to read it to you.”
Judge Colonel Grainger: “Okay.”
Me: “I realize the charges against me are serious and I know that I’m guilty of these crimes. I have a drug problem, a problem that has changed me into a person I’m ashamed of. My addiction took away my better judgment to control my life. I have disgraced myself, my family, the United States Army, and God. I only wish I could go back and change the things I’ve done. I know that’s impossible so I’m ready to accept my punishment and move on to becoming a rehabilitated member of society. I have nothing but time ahead of me to start over, change my ways and regain the respect that I’ve lost.”
As I read this , I shake my head at my own self.
How did it ever get to this?
Why did I make these decisions?
Who was this person?
I am so very thankful for a God who says, “Stop running, come home, you are forgiven”
Even after all that I have done…
Addiction, shame, disgrace…
God doesn’t see it…
Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. (NLT)
Next post, the final statements from the prosecution and the defense.