Today is our third attempt. The third time the sentencing hearing has been scheduled. The individual who set my sister-in-law’s house on fire and killed my nephew will receive his sentence. The first two attempts failed because the judge didn’t show up, and we were not notified until we arrived at the courthouse and got to the courtroom. So… the third time’s the charm?
I have become completely disillusioned with our criminal justice system. I ranted about it the first time we attempted this sentencing hearing. Since then, we attempted to go to the rescheduled sentencing hearing. Once again, we were turned away at the doors of the courtroom, 20 minutes before the hearing was to begin. “The judge isn’t here,” is what the crown prosecutor told us.
I am in a state of desperation that today’s hearing will actually happen. The anticipation and emotional turmoil of a looming hearing date is torture. I don’t know how our family will manage if it is rescheduled again.
Life Without Justice
Regardless of whether it does happen today, we know the outcome. The outcome is this: there is no justice for Hunter’s death. Hunter’s death is not being addressed in this hearing. Setting the fire is being addressed. How can you address setting the fire without addressing Hunter’s death, you ask? After all, didn’t he die from smoke inhalation from a fire that was set by someone? Yes he did. But it is still under investigation, and probably will be for years. Who knows if charges will ever be laid in relation to Hunter? And as we now know all too well, charges can be easily dropped if there isn’t a high likelihood of conviction. All I know is that this system we’re in makes an already horrific existence for victims even more unbearable.
Hearing Hunter’s Voice
In the midst of this nightmare, trying to live a life without justice, I think it is of utmost importance to hear Hunter’s voice. He was the sweetest, happiest, easygoing baby. He brought us so much joy and made our hearts overflow with love.
Angie, Hunter’s mother, wrote this poem on Hunter’s behalf for his Victim Impact Statement. Her brother, my husband, Ron Tang, illustrated it.
My name is Hunter Brown
Don’t forget the home was also mine
I remember how bright all the windows were
And all of my colourful nursery designs
For five months mommy held me
In the rocking chair in the corner of our room
She gave me so many kisses
And told me everyday she loves me to the moon
My daddy told me stories in our garden
He tickled my feet and held me tight
He was excited to see me walking soon
I could hear him whispering I love you at night
I could hear my puppies following me
Their names were Bunny and Mr. Poo
My puppies fell in love with me there
And I learned to love them too
Grandma walked over every morning
Then Grandpa came at night
Uncles, Aunties and cousins would also come
Everything just felt right
Mommy, daddy and I went swimming
It was late and mommy said it’s time to go
My home is my safe place to return to
Hey look! My puppies are waiting there by the window
We looked at the stars together
I was so tired but had so much fun
Mommy snuggled and kissed me good night
She told me it was time to dream and the day was done
I didn’t know what happened
I’ll never know and understand why
I never got to see the sun the next day
All I could hear was my family cry
Fire and smoke engulfed my home
All because someone set my home ablaze
No one will ever be able to recognize it
What once was my beautiful and peaceful place
Darkness and chaos came
My puppies and I couldn’t stay
Mommy and daddy’s hearts are forever broken
Because we are so very far away
Don’t forget my name is Hunter Brown
The home was also mine
I’ll never get to grow up there
I’ll never get to shine
I love you mommy. I never had a moment of sadness. I’ll be waiting for you with the puppies ❤️
Even if you didn’t know Hunter, I hope you can hear his voice now too. The voice of a child who was robbed of his first Halloween, his first Christmas, his first word, his first steps. The voice of innocence. The voice of unconditional love. That is all we have left.