"If you're going to commit a crime, do it in Baltimore City." This is a saying I heard a few months ago and I certainly learned the validity of it on Monday morning as the plea agreement was reached without my consent. Actually, I think the saying was told to me as a joke. I certainly wasn't laughing. I truly wish justice meant "an eye for an eye." I have absolutely no sympathy for these four defendants. I hate them and I will hate them forever. I will never forgive and never forget and no one can judge me for that. Because of them, I have no husband. I come home to an empty, dark house and a mailbox full of medical bills. And what do they get? Well, because we live in Baltimore City, Ramos gets only 40 years for: carjacking a woman in Elkton, attempting to murder my husband, conspiring to rob my husband, robbing my husband and robbing a woman the day after Zach with a gun (Price had the gun)! The 40 years Ramos got was a concurrent sentence for all of these horrific offenses!! And same for the other 3 savages. They were given 8 years for basically the same thing, minus the carjacking. All 4 were involved in a separate robbery with a handgun after they attacked Zach, and all they got was 8 measly years! As much as I am disgusted by the "stop snitching" subculture, I hope that subculture's own thugs live up to their word this time.
I told the prosecutors from the very beginning that I would not agree to a plea. As great as the prosecutors assigned to Zach's case were (I truly commend them for all of their hard work), the states attorney's office is so afraid of a "not guilty" verdict that a plea is always seen as the best solution. A Baltimore Sun article, explained that "defendants are less and less afraid of the law. They are convinced that if they can get their case to a jury, they'll be found not guilty,'" said Circuit Judge John M. Glynn. "'And that happens often enough to give credence to their view.'" Totally disgusting. I did not want to succumb to this threat. Gregory Kane's article said it best for me.
I wanted to at least try for justice. I wanted the whole city to hear what the defendants did to Zach and the other assault victims. I wanted Ramos to be put away for life. He is a murderer. He is not charged legally for murder, but if it weren't for advancements in medicine, Zach would definitely be dead by now. I hope karma is a real thing. I hope hell is real, too. And I hope Ramos and his 3 co-defendants experience both. While our families were giving our victim impact statement, Ramos' mother kept walking out, mumbling under her breath. The judge should have made her stay and hear what her son did to us. But of course she didn't listen and made a point to walk out several times, shaking her head and mumbling stuff under her breath, which I'm doubtful was anything sympathetic to our families.
I know how this sounds, but this is just the way I feel right now. And yet I'm committed to throwing my anger into fixing this broken system. I know some people are trying to turn this into a race thing, but I'm only willing to go so far. I think most of these brutal acts are coming from black criminals, but we need the good black people to help fix it. When everyone complains about "jury bias" and "the trouble with Baltimore City juries," they really mean that the mostly black juries won't convict black criminals. I've even heard from friends who've served on city juries here and they say it feels like the black jurors are trying to settle old scores with the system. It's a new kind of racism!
But where's this going to get us? Well, we've been talking to some black city leaders who say they're fed up, too. We want the city's black leaders to work with us, and they're getting on board pretty easily.
We're working with Doc Cheatham from the NAACOP, who was one of the first people to call me when Zach got hurt! He supports my anger at the system! He agrees that there are people in the black community "who are just evil." So guess who's supporting my new efforts to fix the jury bias problem?
Some of you are helping me pick out a few positions where I might be able to do some good. As soon as we've got some things worked out, I'll post them here.
In the meantime, PLEASE check out these media pieces discussing the jury issue:
WBAL's I-Team: More City Cases End In Pleas Than TrialsWife of man in coma from beating is guest on "NAACP Report" TV showInterview with Ron SmithArchive of Baltimore Sun Articles on Zach Sowers
Thanks for letting me vent!
[December 9th, 2007] 10:00am
3 admit roles in beating --
Teens reach pleas, agree to testify in Patterson Park attack
By Brent Jones, Baltimore Sun Reporter
Three teenagers accepted plea agreements yesterday that could send them to prison for eight years in exchange for testifying against a fourth defendant accused of the near-fatal beating of Zachary Sowers near his Patterson Park home June 2.
Eric Price, 17, Arthur Jeter, 18, and Wilburt Martin, 19, pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery after a lengthy court proceeding before Baltimore Circuit Judge John C. Themelis.
Under the plea bargain, each defendant faces 15 years in prison, but prosecutors say they will ask that the sentences be further reduced if the three testify against Trayvon Ramos, who is accused of beating Sowers."
Read more >>
[December 6th, 2007] 12:00pm
Zach is the same, neurologically and medically, although Kim, Zach's mom, said he seemed very alert on Wednesday night. Kim knows of another guy who was in a car accident and had Diffuse Axonal Injury, which is what Zach has, and was in a coma for 7 months and is now totally fine. Sunday, Dec. 2, marked Zach's 6th month in a coma. Doctors have always told us that we cannot compare brain injuries but even so, we are still hoping against hope that Zach will pull through. It's hard to stay positive when the doctors have told us that this might be as good as it gets. But, we still try. We are realistic with our expectations yet, never loose hope of that possible miracle.
I got this email from one of Zach's nurses and it moved me so much that I wanted to share it:
"I started working at the Care Center about 2 months ago. I was so overwhelmed with Zach's room that it brought me to tears. It is such a lovely room. I have to tell you that the staff loves Zach and I know I will get to love him too. I want to promise you that I will take good care of him. You are a lovely human being and you are both so lucky to have one another. My prayers are with you."
As for the trial, it is still set for 2 p.m. on Dec. 7 at Mitchelle Courthouse West. Friday's trail will start in Room 236 and will probably move to another room. Like I said before, Friday will probably be mostly administrative stuff. After that comes jury selection and then the trial begins. So, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday would probably be the best days to attend.
Good news on the activism front. We had a meeting with Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, President of the NAACP Baltimore Chapter. He was very receptive to working with us and achieving our mutual goals for Baltimore City. I'm excited for our new partnership. We'll keep everyone posted with everything in the upcoming days.
[November 27th, 2007] 11:00am
Zach has finally gained some weight which is exciting for anyone that has visited him and seen how thin he has become. He was about 102 lbs at admission to Hopkins from Kernan and is now almost 106 lbs. Yay! His very large bedsore is slowly healing with the amazing nano-technology treatment used for burn victims. Everyone that visits him now thinks he looks great, even the director of the Neuro Critical Care Unit, who stopped in to check on Zach a few weeks ago. The doctors are trying Amantadine, commonly used to treat the flu, as a new therapy drug. They had tried this at Kernan as well so we'll see if the higher dosage makes any difference. Some of you may have seen the "60 Minutes" piece last night about minimally conscious patients that "woke up" using drugs such as Ambien. I spoke to Zach's doctor today and he is happy to try Ambien as well. We'll see what happens. There is also another great article about how little is known about brain injured patients in The New Yorker.
Thank you to everyone who sent us well wishes over Thanksgiving break. The holiday was definitely not fun in any way. But I am thankful for many things such as my friends and family (near and far), my own health and that of my family, and the countless people who don't know Zach or me but pray for us every day. I have received so many supportive emails, letters and even gift baskets from complete strangers! We seriously have the best friends ever. Our friends in Frederick were able to put together a seamless Frederick Neighbors Night Out fundraiser and raise $8,000!!
I would like to say that the praise I get for raising awareness about Zach often feels unwarranted because as much as I've tried to raise awareness, meet with city officials and other advocacy groups - NOTHING has changed. I've called the mayor's community liaison to ask what exactly the Mayor's crime plan is in my district and was told the mayor wouldn't know that information and that I'd have to contact my police district - unacceptable answer. I've tried contacting the NAACP to how we can work together and after several months, still no meeting. I spoke to Pat Jessamy, Baltimore City States Attorney, asking what she plans to do differently since status quo isn't working; she gave me a runaround response. Thank goodness the prosecutors assigned to this case are diligently working to make sure that everything is done correctly. But pretty much everybody just wants to point fingers at everyone else. It's completely frustrating. The Mayor's office has agreed to help me change specific crime-related legislation but I still haven't seen a draft of it and I don't know what legislation the Mayor will bring up in the session. Why I'm still in this crime-ridden city boggles my mind. I want to be near Zach and try and make a difference but I don't know what needs to be done. I am not a policy maker. It's not my job to come up with the answers but it is my job as a citizen and victim of Baltimore City to demand justice for Zach and change for other innocent citizens.
Since Zach's attack, I have personally heard of several random assaults that have happened to close friends, acquaintances and coworkers. I feel like a prisoner in this City. Just check out sebaltimorecrimewatch.blogspot.com to see crime activity in the SE district. I'd also like to remind everyone that on the night of June 1, Zach closed his tab shortly after 11:30 p.m. and he was found beaten and unconscious some time before midnight. His attack was not at some absurd hour of the morning and Zach was being responsible and taking advantage of city-living by walking home. Sure, he should have waited for someone to walk home with him or taken a cab but how many of us have taken a quick 5-minute walk at night to get from one place to another. Now I have to be the one to spend my holidays without my husband, stress about when I'm going to find time to visit during a busy work day, or see which of our friends can go visit him while I'm out of town so that everyone else knows not to ever go anywhere by themselves and also feel like a prisoner in this city.
Regarding my emerging efforts at civic activism, it sucks that my husband has to essentially be the martyr for reform in Baltimore City, and the worse part about it is that it feels like nothing will ever be changed, regardless of my efforts. But my friends and I continue to come up with new ideas. Stay tuned.
[November 13th, 2007] 4:15pm
The transfer hearing on Nov. 7 was a long and emotional day. Late in the morning, the judge decided to take a break from noon-2:30 so she could read over all of the documents Price's defense attorney brought to the hearing. Although it was annoying that we had to take a major break in the middle of the day, it was good that the judge took the time to thoroughly go over each document so that Price would not later be able to ask for another hearing due to carelessness. After lunch, I returned to the courthouse feeling slightly more refreshed and ready to continue with the rest of the hearing. But after ten minutes of the defense attorney ranting about Price's psychological background, I was overwhelmed with sadness and depression. Sad that I was sitting in a courthouse because my husband was assaulted by 4 random teenagers. Sad that Price's mother seemed to have made a genuine effort to keep her son off the street (at least she made it appear that way to the judge). Sad that I am learning more about criminal justice and neurology/neurosurgery than the average 27 year old.
Then it was the prosecutor's turn. She talked about how Price and Ramos got out of the car, while the other two remained in the car, although all 4 took part in using Zach's credit card for some DVDs and some gas. She spoke about how Price and Ramos collaborated to assault and rob a girl at gunpoint the very next day after they attacked Zach. The judge then requested a quick break before she returned with her decision. I was so anxious waiting for her decision that I think I almost vomited and passed out. Thankfully, she saw Price as a major threat to society. She mentioned how Price had some fun attacking and robbing Zach one night and then had even more fun using a gun the very next day. Thus, he needed to be kept in the adult system, especially since it was evident from the mother's testimony that she sought help for him and he continued to make the wrong choices in life, regardless of who he hurt.
So, the trial is set for Friday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. This is, of course, still tentative. I will have more info in the next week or so. If you can attend the trial, please do so, although I'm not sure how long it will last, probably a few days at most. The actual trial will most likely start that Monday or Tuesday. My next quest is seeing that a fair jury is selected but this seems a formidable challenge in Baltimore City.
Also, for those that have ill feelings toward Zach and me for our media attention (and even to those who are upset for no reason at all), I suggest you redirect your animosity elsewhere. If you're upset over our media attention, then be active and get media attention for whatever it is you believe in. Contact the mayor, city council, whatever; just don't contact me as my focus is on healing Zach, seeking justice for Zach and trying to make a difference. It's ridiculous to waste time posting your jealousy for Zach's' attention when you could be seeking out attention for your own cause. The city is a serious war zone and to criticize me for my efforts of bringing the issue to light is completely idiotic. And unless you have lived my exact life and suffered my exact same tragedies, than you have no room to judge, and I will not waste any energy on your ignorance.
[November 5th, 2007] 4:00am
Zach is still stable at Hopkins. He has his own room, which is great. We are starting to fill his room with photos, cards, stuffed animals and other memories again since he will remain at Hopkins. There isn't much to report on Zach's progress but we thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers.
I'd like to thank all of Zach's coworkers for the money that they have raised and continue to raise. Their fundraising skills have raised over $15,000 and they even had a huge quilt made as part of the fundraising plans. The money will definitely come in handy because Zach's insurance will probably run out in a few months and I will need to figure out how to pay about $1,000 a day for his care. The state will ask that I spend down all of our money before they consider helping. So, I will soon have to spend down all of our savings, including Zach's retirement, to pay for hospital care, while the 4 boys' families sit at home and owe nothing to us, the city or the state.
Thank you to those who attended the "No More Murders" event. Tonight, Nov. 5, is the Southeastern Community Relations Meeting at 7 p.m., 5710 Eastern Avenue. Everyone who wants to know what's going on in the SE district should attend. The meetings are held the first Monday of every month. I will be there and so will Elise Odell, Operation Crime Liason from the Mayor's Office on Criminal Justice. She replied to many of the emails that were written to Mayor Sheila Dixon asking for change. Feel free to talk to Elise about concerns with the Mayor's office or anyone else from the Southeastern CRC about specific police enforcement in your neighborhood. I've also heard that Ms. Patricia Jessamy will be attendance too. See you tonight, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m.
Also, the last transfer hearing will be help on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 9:30 a.m. in courtroom 215. Defendent Eric Price will ask that his case be kept in the Juvenile System. Keep your fingers crossed that the Judge sees Eric Price as a major threat to society since that is exactly what he is, along with the other 3 males with Price the night of June 1, 2007.
[October 25th, 2007] 10:00am
We had a family meeting on Tuesday to discuss Zach's current medical condition and his prognosis. First, Zach is being very well taken care of at the Hopkins Care Center. They are treating Zach like one of their own family members. The bed sore in his lower back was once a massive open wound but has now healed tremendously with the treatment plan that Hopkins is using, which includes nanotechnology used for burn victims. Zach used to often have high blood pressure but that is under control with his current medication. He was a bit anemic upon arrival but his red blood cell count has gone up and his white blood cell count has gone down to show no signs of infection. He does have the highly-resistant strain of bacteria, MRSA, in his bed sore wound so if anyone visits, please wash your hands thoroughly before and after visiting. The MRSA is only in the bedsore at the time, and they are treating it locally. Zach has become very rigid and stiff in his muscles so they will probably give him some medicine to alleviate the rigidness. They have given him new, softer hand splints to help his muscle contractions. Zach is also having a problem with TMJ (Temporo-Mandibular Joint). His jaw often locks open, probably because of his brain injury. There is nothing they can do for this except pop his jaw back into place. He is also on Prevacid to help his stomach since he was on so many antibiotics recently and antibiotics are often hard on the GI tract. Kernan had hoped to begin plugging his trach but Hopkins will not move forward with this procedure since he is not conscious enough to clear his own airway if something were to happen.
Zach has not improved neurologically in the past few months and this proves that his brain injuries were much more severe than anyone had originally hoped. His chances of returning to the loving, funny, witty man that we all love so dearly diminish with each passing day, week, and month that he does not show neurological improvement. I love him more than anyone in this world and now I spend my days depressed and angry that I am not with my friend of 12 years and my husband of one year.
My mission is to see to it that everyone in Baltimore City knows how much this City has let me down and how much still needs to be done. City Hall, Annapolis and our own communities need to take responsibility for their action (or more correctly, their lack of action). I will forever hate the four males that did this to Zach but I hope that the awareness that has been raised about Zach will prevent some other completely innocent person from ending up in the ICU and fighting for their life. I hope you have all had the chance to read Gregory Kane's article below. I need your help to pressure the elected officials to do more and to make citizens in our own city see that their apathy is part of the problem. If you're not with me, you might as well pack up your bags and move out tomorrow because Baltimore is not becoming any safer.
There is an event being held by an organization called Justice Maryland this Sunday, Oct. 28 at the War Memorial Plaza from 2-4 p.m. The event is called "No More Murders." War Memorial Plaza is located at 500 E Fayette St, Baltimore, MD. More information can be found on the Justice Maryland website . I will be honest that Justice Maryland is a criminal justice advocacy organization and I do not agree with many of their issues but I think this Sunday's event is worth attending by everyone. This is short notice but I urge everyone to attend with their Zach T-shirts. Justice Maryland has told me that they think the event will be very well attended with very much media attention.