The following is the text of a letter from Kathy Brown to be read to the court concerning the sentencing of Damien Lewis.
June 13, 2003
I've been trying to write something to read in court today and have torn every one of my drafts up. I decided it was easiest to just write it down like I'm writing to you, since that's what I've been doing for the past 11 months. No more Sunday morning conversations because the minutes were cheaper, just pieces of paper that never get mailed. I sent your birthday card via helium balloon - Did some angel find it and give it to you? How about the Mother's Day hanger and flowers at your headstone, were they ok? Oh well, that's old news. I need to get on with it.
Today is sentencing day for the ignorant guy who created the tragedy in our lives. You, and all of my friends and family know I call the event that took you and Pete away, "the tragedy." It's so hard and cold to day murder, to say what it really was. I suppose you'd tell be to skip the dramatics, don't try to be someone you're not and just get to the point. You know that being the oldest I always thought I had to explain everything. To make things right. You always told me, "You may not be pretty, but you have common sense and a level head. So use it, and get on with it." I try to be strong, not to cry, but that has been hard so much of the time. All our lives have changed so much because of one stupid stranger. You notice I try not to call him by name, because then he'd be a person, have a personality, and he doesn't deserve that, isn't that to me.
His name is Damien Lewis, but I won't mention it again. He's bad, Mama. He didn't learn all those things you taught us kids when you helped with Bible School, Bluebirds, Campfire, and Cub Scouts. Somehow he missed all the lessons about the Golden Rule and the 10 Commandments. Thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not kill - wow, that one really escaped his education. Apparently, he missed the lessons on behavior and social skills as well. He doesn't care that he took away good people and the backbones of a joined family. He doesn't know about things like that. He doesn't and won't know about scrimping and saving to get what you want, about working your whole life so you can save for retirement. He only thinks about himself - his needs and wants.
I cry when I think about birthdays. You know, he said he didn't want to spend his birthday in jail. At least he'll have other birthdays. We missed having birthday cake and homemade ice cream at the lake for you and Pete's 72nd birthday in September. I know you wouldn't have been able to identify him in your upset state - he could have let you live. He's just self centered to have thought you could have. He could have taken money and possessions and just left. I know you guys would have given him anything just to make him go away, promised not to identify him if that's what it would have taken, but you were not given that choice. He made the choice to break in there. You made good choices in your lives. You raised your children right. You donated to help the less fortunate and the sick. But because he is a petty person, and to keep from spending his birthday in jail, he took two lives. Not a good person, not a good choice, and a terrible choice for all of us.
I wish sometimes that I was strong enough to take away the rest of his birthdays like he did yours, but you taught me better than that. You taught me how to teach my children to be respectful of others and their possessions, and their lives. You taught me that money isn't everything and to budget and save what you have, to get the most for that money, and to cherish life and God. You were a good mother, and every time you disciplined me you'd say "You'll understand when you have kids and try to teach them the same things." How many times you were right. But you were proud of Paul's and my kids and thank goodness you told me that, that we were able to talk about it in person. You were a good person, and as I grew to be mature, a good friend, a good mom. He took you away and it makes me sad and angry.
I cry when we think about the conversation we had on June 29th. Ty and Jenny's wedding, just two short weeks before the "tragedy" about you betting you'd have a greatgrandchild in exactly nine months. I guess you have that one with you, and are taking care of it. I know it was a girl since that's what you said you and the other grandma's wanted for the first one. Sorry, he made you go away and you weren't here to share the sad news with us, I know you would have cried too. Mamo would have taken care of that one. There was good news though - Jennifer and Brad have a healthy baby boy for you and Pete to be proud of. I'm sure they'll teach him right. But I cry that you're not here to enjoy him.
I cried at Thanksgiving and Christmas, cause it wasn't at your house like it's been for so many years. You would have enjoyed hearing the story about how Clint gave Jolene her engagement ring - in a pair of Christmas gloves, that WAS under the gift price limit. I hope you peeked in on that one - so cute and romantic.
I cried when Katrina and Adam got married and you weren't there in person, I know you were in spirit, to see your "Little Doll" walk down the aisle. She was gorgeous wasn't she. Hope you and Brandie, and the others up there, hooked up to watch the ceremony together. We sure missed you being there. No 3 generation pictures. There should have been. You were healthy - you had lots of years left - you should have been there - but because of one person you were not.
I cry when I think of all the memories we had yet to share. You missed Katrina's graduation from college and Nina's from high school. You'll miss all the celebrations to come when I do finally get to be a grandma and spoil my grandchildren like you tried to yours.
I cry when I'm in my own house, that is supposed to be my sanctuary, a place of comfort and peace. I cry because some stupid person took away my safety net, by breaking into you home, and not respecting your space. He took away my foolish notion that if you are a good person, your own home is a safe haven from the big bad world outside. We don't have the prestigious things that young people seem to care about, the kind of things you think people would want to break in and steal. He didn't take the TV or VCR, I guess they weren't worth enough. He did take the people we cared about, he took you away. You never expected someone to break into your home, it wasn't pretentious - just nice and clean, filled with memories of your friends and family.
I cry when I look around our house now and see those things. Those things that someone else thought worthless, that they didn't take - the salt and pepper shakers, the things from Mamo, the things from Dallas and the others, they are priceless to me. The things I'm to pass on to my children and grandchildren someday, with the story of where they came from. I cry that I have them out of turn. It wasn't time for me to have them. I love them and will cherish them but it WAS NOT TIME for them to be mine. He made it be that time. And I hate him for that.
I try to tell myself that after today, there can be some closure to the sad times, that he'll get what he deserves, and we can go on. I know that isn't true, but I try to convince myself. That maybe I won't cry as much about the little things. I guess that's what I want him and the courts to know, is the little things - the things you were, and did, and meant and shared with us - and how you being gone is unfair.
I wish I could say that this is the beginning of the last day of his life. But I can't. All I hope is that he remembers the last day of your life for the rest of his. Am I a bad person to hope it haunts him, and his heart will be eaten up with guilt. I hope he has nightmares of you asking him to spare your lives. Some people have asked me if I'm worried about him saying - "he has found the Lord," asking the court to be lenient. I'm not afraid of that, because the type of person who could do what he did to you, and be afraid of death himself, will find hell on earth. The death penalty would be too fast, too easy, too painless. Am I a bad person to want him to suffer, to do without, to feel real loneliness, friendlessness, hopelessness.
I'm crying again as I write this. Hurry up and get the waterworks over, you say. You understand, but then you tell me to pull myself up by the bootstraps and get on with it. There is still life for me to live, to enjoy it, to not let is pass me by - it's too precious and you never know when it can be taken away. I can only hope that justice is done, that he never sees freedom again, and I can get on with my life.
How do we end all our conversations?
Talk to ya later - (Wish I could) - Love ya, bye.