Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Victim Impact Statement

Apparently I'm not supposed to publish details about the court case involving the murderer who took my brother's life. But I doubt anyone is looking at my blog, except for a few Russian people apparently.. nostrovia!  This is my pre-tragic levity.  Below is my 'victim impact statement' to be read before the judge in January. I figured if I have the balls to read it in court I should be able to publish it without fear. Maybe I'll remove it later.

Victim Impact Statement
Ben Switzer

                Josh and I were always together.  We shared bunk beds, fought over a single computer, and even shared clothing, up until the night he was killed.  We explored the forest and built shelters for others to find. We climbed trees, ran through the fields and biked until our legs burned through. Every memory I have from childhood has the peripheral sense of Josh embedded there. The sea breeze on a ferry, all of us lined up against the cool railing, and Josh on my left, always beside me.   I knew he looked up to me, and I tried to be a good brother.. but I still wonder that I failed him.   I will never know to what extent.

He provided for me an anchor, a safe harbor from despair.  Knowing that every night before bed I’d pass by his door, and no matter how bad it got for me, my family would be there, Josh would be there.

It’s hard to overstate the impact Josh’s death has had on my life.  I have often contemplated suicide since he was killed.  When I think about how he was brutalized so carelessly and then discarded like a piece of trash, it sickens me.   It fills my nights with disgusting nightmares, and there’s no solace from this grief.  The suffering will never end.  
A few months before Josh was brutally killed, I confessed to him I was struggling and had thoughts of taking my own life.  At this point a tick-borne disease had systematically taken almost everything I loved.  Josh simply put his hand on my shoulder and said “don’t give up man.”   He always had the simplest advice, but it was always honest and true.   Because Josh was honest and true, he was a good man.   A better man than I’ll ever be.

Josh was a team leader in a game called Counter Strike, and his role was the “Strat Caller,” which is like a tactician and a field commander. He was good at interpreting his opponent’s strategy.  We could often hear him late at night shouting orders. It was infuriating, but we knew it was important to him, so we didn’t complain.

After he was killed, we disassembled his room with shaking hands. His computer monitor held a sticky note on its frame..The note read:

“Focus on the crosshairs,
Don’t change what works,
Don’t give up.”

We try to measure the severity of a crime by intent, deed, and “mitigating impact.” So we can inflict a proportionate punishment.  But in reality, Josh’s death will be a mere inconvenience to Mr. Norton. My life is ruined.  But it doesn’t matter, my dreams are just trash.  Discarded. 

It isn’t possible to quantify the future of what could have been. Josh wanted a family. He spoke eagerly of his future, and I looked to the days where his children would call me “uncle Ben,” and I could teach them a proper jump-shot. I saw visions as they rode horses alongside their aunt Brianna; and all their laughter, and joy - their dreams and maybe one day own their families - trash.

What is the worth of a dream? Josh and I were business partners, and we were building something that was better than ourselves. It was meant to be profitable, ethical, fundamentally democratizing, and we hoped to make medicine more affordable for everyone. We worked thousands of hours to understand the machinery of this complete dream.  Years of preparing and studying, planning and researching; tens of thousands of dollars in tuition.. Trash.  Easily discarded.

 When I try to think about the “impact” of Josh’s death, the task becomes so astoundingly tragic, so astronomical in scope, I break down every time.   Walt Whitman once said “I do not give lectures, or a little charity. When I give, I give myself.”   Josh was a gift the world was denied; in a grotesque, morally bankrupt act of violence.  The impact will forever linger, churning away and growing, a void where something beautiful should have been. 

I have decided to say this or something like it (lawyers might edit it  :S).  All I've said above is true.  I have recovered from the disease and am enjoying happiness most of the time now.  So I've come a long way, I guess that's why I can write the above without restraint. 

1 comment:

  1. i hope they listen. they won't understand, but they can listen and act accordingly. he deserved better and so do you. please don't ever give up.