Tomorrow Ben would turn three. I've realized for those who have lost loved ones...the pain…
I hoped to attend the sentencing today in order to speak these words myself. But, I respected my husband's wishes that I be spared the additional trauma that the charge and related court appearances have brought on our family. Please excuse me for avoiding media calls today, but I'm spending the day with my girls as I should be. You can obtain a transcript of today's proceedings, which may offer useful insight. I asked that my attorney, Mr. Peter Buzaid, read the following statement to the Court:
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I ask that you look at my husband sitting before you. I fell in love with this man the first moment I met him, and that is my message today – one of love, understanding and compassion. The kind of love that neither wavers nor ends because it reaches the core of a human being. My love for him is based on the fact that he is the most good-hearted, the kindest and most loving man I have ever met. He is not an average father or even a good father…he is an amazing father. He was a stay-at-home dad for four years, and would never have traded the time he got to spend at preschool with his daughters, soccer practices and games, on surprise “daddy-daughter” dates, or simply cooking for all of us. He is a father that never needed or wanted many friends because he was happiest just being with us, his family.
Then our joy, Ben, came along. Language limits my ability to describe our love for our little man, Benjamin Jacob Seitz. He had stunning blue eyes that bore holes through our souls, giggles that echoed through the house, a smile that melted our hearts, and a soft, tender touch that reminded us of the goodness in life. Ben was a daddy’s boy all the way. Kyle had what I called the magic touch and spent many late nights rocking him back to sleep. Ben would pull gently with his chubby fingers on his father’s face, a slight grin underneath his pacifier, until he drifted back off to sleep. They were inseparable. Ben cried, and Kyle ran to him immediately. Our entire family was inseparable; you never saw one of us without the rest in tow. It was (and still is) pure love and happiness.
The pain of losing Ben is visceral; it never goes away. I want to sweep his blond curls out of his face again and kiss him; to hold him. But, I can’t. And, losing him in this way has taught me the greatest lesson of all, as a lawyer, wife, friend and mother – a lesson of hope and resilience, and of the power of the human spirit to reach within itself to find a greater good, even in its darkest hour, but only when focused on love, understanding, and compassion. It is with my greatest respect, Your Honor, that I ask this of you today - for compassion and leniency in sentencing my husband. For him to be released to be with his family, so that we can finally be at peace to grieve and heal together.
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I understand there is interest in obtaining (i) an update on where I am with public awareness efforts and (ii) my opinion on charges being brought against my husband. I'll take these in turn:
1. I am currently working with Janette Fennell, founder of KidsAndCars.org, to engage Congressmen and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") in discussions surrounding next steps to solve this public safety problem. We met with several members of Congress last fall, as well as David Friedman, then-Acting Administrator of NHTSA, and his team. At that time, we had garnered support in Congress to move forward on this very important issue. We are waiting to see how our efforts progress through the Spring and Summer months this year, as more children will be lost in these tragic accidents. We will also work on raising public awareness of heatstroke dangers through other avenues.
2. Being an attorney myself, it is very difficult for me to offer a public statement regarding the decision to bring charges against my husband, given the relevant facts in the arrest warrant. Yes, I have my opinion and it may be an educated opinion, but it is just that - an opinion. And, at this time, I prefer to keep that private, as it will not add anything useful to the public dialogue on this important issue. As an attorney, I can only speak to the way in which I would have gone about deciding whether or not to press charges: It would have involved intense, mind-numbing, hours upon hours of research and analytical thinking; comparing and contrasting precedent and other similar circumstances; pouring over information from expert psychologists in the area; reading federal government documents; weighing the theories of punishment (deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation, and retribution); talking to other district attorneys who did or did not press charges in their state (around 50% of these incidents are prosecuted across the nation); considering (in my heart, not solely my mind) the suffering and punishment the family had already had to endure to-date; and ultimately weighing whether there is a greater good, or "justice," that would be served by charges. I would have tried to factor in only ethically justifiable criteria, not media attention, pundits, conviction rates, or politics. If this was all done, then I respect the decision-making process, professionally. But, this is information to which I will never be privy, so I cannot accurately and ethically comment on the decision to charge my husband.
We made a decision to take a plea for one reason - we could not imagine asking a jury, our friends and family, or even the general public to live through the possible presentation by the State of pictures, descriptions and testimony about our son and my husband's state in the ER that night, along with the details of the entire day that still cause us PTSD symptoms nine months later. We do not want anyone to have to bear that burden except those that must. So, was it a win for the State today? I'm not so sure. But, I have no room in my heart for opinions, judgment or negativity (we have faced enough of that), so we would like to simply move on from this to better times full of laughs, love, friends and family. So, up and onward!
The only last message I want to share with the public is to reiterate from experience how deeply our actions and words can affect others, even if we don't know it at the time. This trauma (and I do mean trauma - we lost everything save our family unity and close friends; the ultimate loss being my beloved son) has opened our eyes to a certain truth that has changed my life, both professionally and personally. It is easy to get caught up on the most superficial layers of life and never stop to think, question and ultimately realize that everything we do has ripple effects not only on those closest to us, but on a broader scale, in society. We are all connected. We have been to the darkest places a person (and family) can go over the past nine months, both physically and emotionally, and survived, somehow...but it wasn't easy, and it wasn't a given. The decision to charge my husband could have destroyed, not only a man who was broken down to nothing already, but an entire family. Comments from strangers, interactions with CT DCF...these all could have had the same effect.
My takeaway from all of this, which I hope to guide my life as I move forward is simply - love wins. That's it. Very simple.
We are thankful for Judge Russo's compassion and leniency in ordering a conditional release.
Also, a huge thank you to everyone who has supported and stayed by us through the worst days of our life. We love you all!