Judge DeAvila-Silebi gives a piece of peace to aggrieved survivors

By: Dara Carlin, M.A.
Cross Posted from: Honolulu Domestic Violence & Abuse Examiner

Vindicator: (noun) from the word “vindicate” (from www.yourdictionary.com)

  1. 1.       to clear from criticism, blame, guilt, suspicion, etc.; uphold by evidence or argument
  2. 2.       to defend or maintain (a cause, claim, etc.) against opposition
  3. 3.       to serve as justification for; justify

Vindicator: the perfect word to describe The Honorable Liliana S. DeAvila-Silebi, who, today handed down her sentence regarding the 2008 shooting of Louisa Rodas, who was caring for her cancer-stricken sister, Denise, when the gunman – her sister’s husband – shot her in the head, believing her to be his mother-in-law, BettyJean Klinghttp://www.northjersey.com/news/crime_courts/032312_Lodi_man_gets_30_years_for_shooting_sister-in-law_in_the_face.html

Considering the gravity of the crime and its consequences it’s hard to imagine that the gunman would get anything less than the maximum but – as many domestic violence survivors can attest to – in light of the family context of the case, justice is something that’s never quite given as much weight as healing, forgiveness, “moving beyond” and conflict resolution so the cause for doubt and concern was warranted.  Justice was served, however, with the gunman being sentenced to 30 years and ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution.

Video: DV survivors are more accustomed to this

I heard from BettyJean following the sentencing (who couldn’t say enough about Judge DeAvila-Silebi) and asked her a few questions about how it all went.

Continue reading on Examiner.com Judge DeAvila-Silebi gives a piece of peace to aggrieved survivors – Honolulu Domestic Violence & Abuse | Examiner.com
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Louisa Richardson Rodas needs your support Friday 3/23/12

BettyJean Downing –Kling

For Immediate Release:


We need to fill this courtroom, can Louisa count on your physical support Friday?

Sentencing
Friday March 23
Hackensack, NJ  Courthouse
10 main Street Room 412 1:30 PM

Honorable Liliana S. DeAvila-Silebi
Justice Center
10 Main Street
Hackensack 07601-7699

Case# 09-06-1226-I, New Jersey vs. George Hartwig Sentencing scheduled for February 24, 2012

Dear Judge DeAvila-Silebi,

    I am the mother of Denise Richardson and Louisa Richardson- Rodas. I am making this statement to you on their behalf because they cannot. Denise died in the spring of 2009 and Louisa is no longer able to speak.

    George Hartwig was married to my daughter Denise; they were together for 23 years. The marriage was marred by many acts of domestic violence on his part towards her. He was cruel and vicious to her during the relationship and marriage but for reasons a mother will never know, she kept taking him back.

    In June of 2007, Denise was at her home in Lodi. She was suffering and nearing the end of a three year battle with ovarian cancer. She was awakened to sharp blows to her head and body because Gorge Hartwig was trying to kill her. She begged for her life and she was finally able to convince him that if he stopped beating her she would give to him what he wanted the most, her pain medication.

    On December 17, 2008 George Hartwig was scheduled to go to court for the June 07 attack on Denise. On December 15, 2008 he entered 540 North Main Street, Lodi where I was caring for Denise. Denise was in the final stages of Ovarian Cancer and she weighed only 80 Lbs. George began to drag her around the living room and only stopped when I intervened in order to defray his attention away from her. He kept holding up the bloody pillow from the last time he had beaten Denise. He finally left but not before threatening to kill me with a gun.

    George returned hours later with a shotgun. Denise was sleeping and Louisa was at the very far end of the couch working on her computer. She never heard him enter, when Louisa spotted him hovering over Denise holding a shotgun, she immediately texted her son Marc for help.

    Denise awoke to hear George demanding the phone and holding a gun. Groggy, she began looking for a phone to give him then heard a shot fire. When she turned to look all she saw was George peering down at her – the gun pointed at the ceiling. She had no idea what direction the gun shot took nor where her sister was at the time. George now began pointing the gun at her and demanding her pain pills.

    Louisa had used the phone to call for help. George saw her and shot her in the face with his shotgun. My son and grandson arrived and George tried to shoot my son Tommy but the gun jammed. Marc then subdued him and the police came.

    Louisa had suffered a shot to the face and head leaving her nearly dead.

    George was lucid enough to tell the officers exactly what happened that day and night – he said that he thought Louisa was me and that I had made him very angry and he decided to come over and kill me.

    Denise died from her cancer on March 7, 2009. She never saw her sister again and she was forced to go to her death feeling responsible for marrying the guy who shot her sister.

    The court appearance scheduled for December 17, 2008 never happened. George was never required to answer for the beating he gave to Denise back in June of 2007.

    Louisa suffered severe traumatic brain injury. She currently resides at a Sate run hospital known as the Bergen Regional Medical Center (formerly Bergen Pines). She requires 24 hour care but receives only a tiny fraction of the care she needs. So much of her care depends on me. Louisa is a young woman who deserves to be in a happy and caring atmosphere attended to by care takers and by doctors who actually examine her and prescribe with expectations of quality of life.

This long term care facility hospital is far from that. Louisa’s injuries rendered her physically helpless and mentally incompetent but not oblivious or comatose. During this time she has been subjected to continuous acts of negligent medical treatment, physical abuse and personal neglect at the hands of management, nursing and support staff. Specifically, Louisa suffered from severe rashes, infections and other ailments the facility completely failed to reasonably treat or attend at all. On numerous occasions BMC completely neglected Louisa in that she was forced to lie in her own feces for extended lengths of time without proper nursing assistance. Louisa has often exhibited signs of bruising and various other traumas to her body, face and hands without explanation. Louisa is denied daily ear, eye, nose and mouth care. Finally, Louisa has been denied appropriate medical attention when she becomes ill and needs special care she also has been denied physical, occupational and speech therapy. Instead she is merely warehoused as if she were an unfeeling vegetable. Louisa is well aware of these wretched conditions and her untenable situation and feels pain and discomfort and she is able to clearly express this hurt and distress.

    For all intents and purposes, her life has been taken away from her. Louisa remains incapacitated for life which should be another 40 years.  While there may ultimately be a light at the end of George Hartwig’s tunnel, there is none for my daughter and her family. We will sleep with one eye open at best, knowing that she needs constant care and attention. I worry constantly over the fact that the day will come when I cannot care for her. And then, what will we do?

    This man, for no good reason bullied and battered two innocent young women and if he had his way, he would have killed my son and me. There can never be justice for my daughters and my family; nevertheless, I ask Your Honor to do the best that the law permits in punishing this man for his evil acts.

    I further ask to court to order him to pay restitution to my daughter Louisa for the extensive medical care she has incurred and will need in the future. I have been told that George Hartwig settled a civil lawsuit and received a substantial amount of money. I request that the Court make inquiry into his assets and any disposition he made of them over the period of time since he attacked my daughters over three years ago.

“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand: there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend; some hurts that go too deep, that have taken hold.” –Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

J. R. R. Tolkien has the talent for putting thoughts into words that I, as her representative and that of her children cannot. How could I possibly put into words our journey and all the events that brought us to where we are today? These past three years, I have asked myself, “What does the human spirit need in order to heal and move on?”

I have settled on the following: We need a safe place to share our pain and be acknowledged, we need compassion, we need to know that we and others will be protected from the perpetrator, we need accountability — someone who will hold the perpetrator accountable, we need restitution for the losses incurred by the victim, and we need justice (not revenge) but vindication — to be set free. Scars remain, but healing is sufficient so as not to continue to be held in bondage to the trauma.

I am attaching photos of my daughters. They are self-explanatory and substantiate and support the information I report to you herein.

I thank you for Louisa, and her sons Marc and Josh Richardson and our family for the opportunity to be heard in this matter,

Betty Jean Downing- Kling

Louisa served with DIVORCE papers

BettyJean Downing Kling

To add insult to injury, Louisa’s husband has just had us served with divorce papers. This will set him free and allow him to remove her health care leaving her with nothing more than medicaide and second rate care for the rest of her life! The abuse never fails to amaze me!

The 60 year old retired laborer is entitled to full medical, eye and dental coverage at no cost for himself and his wife for life unless and until they divorce! This will leave Louisa without the benefits she needs to sustain her health and well being. Dumping her on the state medicaid roles is unfair to her and the NJ taxpayers and it renders her unable to get full and proper care!

Plantif demands judgment as follows:

Dissolving of the marriage on the grounds “The parties have lived separate and apart for a period of 18 months and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.”

As Louisa’s new Guardian, I am hoping to find a divorce attorney who will take her case here in Bergen County NJ and fight to  have her husband  keep her insured. Louisa cannot possibly get her own insurance under these conditions and she is entitled to keep her private health care rather than  having to resort to State benefits  because  he choses to  abandon her and take her care away!

Louisa waits: Sentencing POSTPONED Again, Defense prepares a leniency filing!


Sentencing POSTPONED Again
From 1/27 – To 2/24 -To  3/23
Justice delayed is Justice denied

Help get Justice for Louisa

URGENT- the squeaky wheel gets the oil! I’m Louisa’s Mom and I need your help. Here are three things you can do to help! What would you do if this were your daughter?  You too would not stop or give up reaching out – looking for JUSTICE. Neither will I – if you have not already done so – please help- we still have time to get hundreds more letters out. It has come to my attention the Defense is asking for leniency! The sentencing has already been postponed twice now they need another postponement because the defense attorney needs time to files a motion for leniency for George. George plead guilty to all 10 counts against his Lawyers wishes and now his lawyer is trying to get him the best possible outcome—but his client has already told the sorry story to the judge.

Can you hear me now? His high priced attorney is begging for LENIENCY on behalf of his client who plead guilty to 10 counts including 2 counts of attempted murder – on which left my daughter missing half of her head, half a brain and almost no life at all!

Come see pictures of my daughter – who is going to show her leniency and replace her missing skull, eye, jaw, right half of her brain and memory? Who will give her the ability to sit, stand walk and eat? Who will give her any kind of life back? Leniency for poor George?

THIS is not a case of retribution it is a case of accountability! Justice demands George is held accountable for his actions! No leniency!

Now we also have time to ask for leniency – but not for George! Updates to her story are available please follow the enclosed links. While there please leave comments and find information on how you can help with fair sentencing.  We are urging concerned citizens to write to the judge requesting George Hartwig be sentenced to the full extent of the law.

1- We need hi visibility and we hope we can get it at the newspaper contact  http://www.northjersey.com/news big-time! The higher the interest in this cases the better the chances we will get results of fair sentences, He came to kill me: Don’t think for one moment he didn’t succeed. at the record, direct readers to the family blog where they can find updated pictures of Louisa and her condition now!

2- PLEASE We need hi visibility and we hope we can get it on the internet –  blog about it -or leave comments on our blog, tweet  it and by all means spread the word on Facebook..  Please come  https://freemenow.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/victim-impact-statement-let-me-be-the-face-of-dv-reform/#comments and leave your comments – leave a record of your concern for posterity.

3- It is URGENT our Comments and letter to the judge are respectful and support of  consecutive sentencing rather than the plea deal offered by the prosecutor and rejected by the defendant in lieu of lesser sentence because George says “He was very intoxicated”.

One sample letter below. Other samples and copies of your letters will be appreciated in the comments section at Louisa’s Blog:

The Honorable Liliana S. DeAvila-Silebi
Judge of the Justice Court of Bergen County New Jersey
10 Main Street
Hackensack, New Jersey 07601

Case# 09-06-1226-I, New Jersey vs. George Hartwig Sentencing scheduled for March 23, 2012

Dear Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi,

I am writing as a concerned citizen interested in fair and equal justice for women, about the case of George Hartwig and his violence against his wife, Denise Richardson, and his sister-in-law, Louisa Rodas. This case, as you well know, is one of the most tragic accounts of domestic violence in recent memory. I have followed this case closely since these crimes were committed by George Hartwig in December of 2008.

It is apparent to me, and to most women alive today, that the law does not adequately protect women from abusers known and unknown, and that the convention in law is to allow for lesser sentences when a man abuses a person, especially a woman or child, that he knows and has a relationship with. This seems completely upside down to me. A man who perpetrates violence against a woman with whom he has a relationship–whatever that relationship–should receive a harsher, not a lesser sentence. Women should, without question, expect that the men in their lives will at the very least do them no physical harm.

George Hartwig has a long history of criminal activity, including domestic violence and drug/alcohol charges. If the law had done its job when it released him after he had bashed in the skull of his wife to secure her pain medications for himself, Louisa might still be the functioning, smiling woman she was before George Hartwig shot her. The law will have to live with that black stain up it, but it can take action to correct this wrong.

I am writing to ask you to sentence George Hartwig to the maximum sentences that are allowed for the 10 crimes he’s been charged with, and that you order these sentences to be served consecutively. Doing this will send a powerful message to the women of today that the law will have their backs when they are victims of a crime at the hands of a loved one. It will also serve as a powerful message to the men in your community that violence against women they are supposed to love and cherish will not be tolerated by the society in which they live. You have the power to deliver this message, to stop giving this man more chances to harm more women, including Betty Jean Kling, whose life will be in danger if he is ever released. I urge you to do the right thing and deliver this message in the form of your sentence upon George Hartwig.

I thank you for taking the time to consider my appeal and the appeals of others who are interested in seeking fair and equal justice for  women who suffer domestic violence.

Sincerely,

Victim Impact Statement: Let me be the Face of DV Reform

Louisa Richardson Rodas by BettyJean Downing

I cannot speak, I can cry out for help or tell anyone what is happening to me, to add insult to injury I can’t report my abusers or the neglect I suffer. All I can do is take it and cry until Momma comes and finds me in deplorable condition. She has filed report after report to no avail. This is my existence now and the one I will endure for the rest of my life. Given that my heart and organs are in great shape that will be a normal life span of about 40 more years in solitary confinement and at the mercy of strangers. Where is the mercy for me? I was protecting my sister from an abuser the courts would not incarcerate and I am confined for life with no one to protect me? Where is the justice for the innocent survivors of crimes?

 I am trying to help and/or protect others from crimes against women through the efforts of my mother. We have proposed a law in my name in an effort to strengthen violence against women laws and see that they are enforced.

George was never sentenced for nearly killing my dying sister with a hammer over 3 years ago – he was angry and loose when he returned. Then while I tried to call for help finding him holding a shotgun over her- he blew my brains out. The first step is in getting him sentenced appropriately then we will move to get Louisa’s law passed.

Will you help us? http://louisaslaw.wordpress.com/louisas-law/

Louisa’s Law seeks to require significant, effective sentences and strictly enforce VAW laws to reduce violence against women, using a three pronged approach of Prevention, Services and Accountability.

My mom comes to the Long Term Care Facility every night, we want you to see the impact George’s actions have made and why if he had been in jail for the first crime – I would not be in this position today. We want you to see why DV needs to be reformed. I am the face of DV reform. I want you to see what the effects of DV really look like and why you need to help NOW. This could your daughter, sister, mother, neighbor next. 

Look how she finds me?
I can’t wound myself this way, yet they say I did this to myself.  My body is banged and bruised, my faced is bashed against the bed rails and once mom saw them bash me in the head with a lift machine and two against one they denied it.

I am not given mouth care, my Mom comes each night to clean my mouth and suction my throat out so I don’t choke to death. She then scrubs my face and neck , picks my nose and clears the  stuff from my one eye and the empty socket to keep the reoccurring eye infections away – because that is not done for me by the facility.

Mom puts me to bed ever night! Friday night is shower night- Mom comes – she is the one who showers me- I like shower night because that is when the stench of urine and feces is really removed from my body best and my hair is made to smell so clean and look so shiny! Mom put baby powder on me like when I was a baby and I like being babied every night when she puts me to bed.

I have had numerous  horrible rashes, my rashes are so bad they bleed from the  blisters. Mom has had terrible fights with the heads of this place because she has taken pictures of the rashes — they say she is not allowed but she takes them anyway. She has documentation of all the neglect and abuse but can’t show the rashes here. You would cry if you had my rashes between your legs on your vagina and between the cheeks of your butt. You would not be able to sit and urinating/or moving your bowels  into a diaper then sitting in it for hours would be torture!

My finger was smashed and they refused to attend to it – I nearly lost the finger but my mother lanced it and saved it just as it was about to turn gangrene.

This is not about revenge- I will never be made whole, my mom nor my sons will ever be made whole,  but we ask that the price we all pay stands for something and that something is the future of DV no longer be a revolving door of injustice for the innocent survivor.  I am the face of one such survivor. Let’s stop this before it happens to you or someone you love! Help us help you – Please don’t sit by until it happens to you or someone you love – then it’s too late!

Louisa’s Law seeks to require significant, effective sentences and strictly enforce VAW laws to reduce violence against women, using a three pronged approach of Prevention, Services and Accountability. http://louisaslaw.wordpress.com/louisas-law/

Sentencing for George Hartwig will be handed down on 2/24/12 before:

The Honorable Liliana S. DeAvila-Silebi
Bergen County Justice Court
10 Main Street Hackensack,
New Jersey 07601

Please write the Judge and ask for consequtive sentences so that George serves for at least both attempted murders! He has thrown himself on the mercy of the court asking for the minimum and to serve as little as 10 years – we are asking for at least 40. Please help us send the message – DV is a serious crime and should be ajudicated as such!