Six years ago, I had a man come into my life in an intrusive manner. Much like with the majority of men I met in my 20s, he swept me off my feet as I was knocked over my head and onto my ass. Only with this man, it happened in a literal capacity and what was once a 19 year sentence might be reduced to as little as six all because of a technicality in filing paperwork.
I’m sad that I have to write this post.
I’m sad that I had to write the letter that I wrote.
I’m sad that I’m sad but I accept that.
Besides, I’ve learned in my old age that it’s what I do next that counts … https://www.youtube.com/embed/2PTnXPfuojU?wmode=opaque
As some of you may know, on January 26, 2012 I was hit in the head with a brick while walking down Sunset Blvd heading to a comic book shop. See, Talk Nerdy had its first stage show the next day (with a big ol’ marquee on Santa Monica Blvd), and my friend @jennhoffman suggested that studying the live show at Meltdown Comics might help. Our shows included dramatic interpretations of OkCupid emails and what I called “nerd’s cup” which was a nerdy version of “kings cup.” We already had our show locked, but as a life long learner, I wanted to see if there was anything we could incorporate in later.
En route to Meltdown, I stopped off at Kinkos and spent $100 printing out the programs (which considering I was still bartering was a LOT of freaking money) topping it off with a trip to Ross Dress for Less to find something nerdy that would be our actual “kings cup.” Star Wars cup in hand, I then walked from La Brea down Sunset planning to walk to Gardner.
As someone who spends the majority of the day in her head, I like walking because I feel like it helps me think. I had no idea my choice to walk that night would put me in grave danger.
Halfway through my walk, I was then hit in the head with a blunt object (which was later identified as a brick).
I still vividly remember not only being grabbed by the back of my hoodie, but being placed in a chair inside a salon unable to walk or talk. (I shockingly managed to grab both the play-bills and Star Wars tumbler – which I still own to this day.) While I remember the events of the evening, I couldn’t tell you what was actually real and what my brain imagined. Everything I experienced had a “fluidity” to it.
Looking back, having a concussion was similar to being on acid. I however like acid a LOT more than having a concussion.
I couldn’t remember Jenn’s name at that point, but knew enough to scroll through my text messages to find her info. Barely able to speak, she asked where I was and all I could say was “Attacked. Ralph’s Ralph’s.” (The salon is no longer there, but was formerly right across the street from Rock and Roll Ralph’s on Sunset. I saw the big Ralph’s sign directly in my eye line.)
I remember hanging up the phone and I’m assuming I must have still been in shock. My head didn’t hurt, rather it was like I had a new glasses prescription; I was suddenly and unexpectedly seeing the world differently.
I tried remembering where I was going and where I was but couldn’t – I just knew I needed to see Jenn. I don’t remember if I processed the words “robbed” or “raped” but I knew I didn’t feel any pain below the equator and I still had my Beats By Dre headphones on my head … only now the white headphones were stained with blood, and a lot of it.
I hope none of you ever have to see how much blood comes from a head wound. As a nerd, any sort of brain leakage is PRETTY FUCKING TERRIFYING, but all I could do is go with whatever it was that was happening which meant a trip to the hospital courtesy of Jenn and her then boyfriend Shane.
I wish I could say in that moment that it was one of the scariest moments of my life, but if I did, that would be a lie. I was in survival mode, and I actually wondered multiple times that evening if I was dead and this was what my “new life” was actually like.
In total, I received four staples in my head, two shots, and had varying degrees of a severe concussion for six months.
The people in the hair salon not only helped me in a physical sense, they actually chased the man down. He was then arrested and held with a bail amount totaling …
Technically speaking $1,075,000.00, but who’s counting.
You can read about the night that it happened here.
You can read about thanking the owners of the salon here – which also involves my attempt to take my own staples out.STILL TO THIS DAY THE DUMBEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE. Also, if you were going to take out your own staples from your own damn head, why not have some tequila?!?! I did that shit stone cold sober.
After I was hit, he not only robbed a liquor store but was held up at gunpoint at Hollywood and Highland, where he was finally arrested.
<tangent> You can read about the fact that I decided to turn my journey in court into a “little adventure” here, and the fact that I had to unexpectedly testify here.</tangent>
Having been stalked as a teen(my father set legal precedent in the state of Connecticut regarding “cyber bullying” which wasn’t a “thing” in 2001), I thought the worst part about testifying was the fact that it felt so intimate; the defendants were people I once loved who had betrayed me. Two seconds into taking the stand this time around, I realized I was ENTIRELY wrong because it felt just as bad facing a perfect stranger in a random act of violence.
Six months later, I watched this man, who was no longer a stranger, accept a deal that gave him 19 years in prison (down from 25 to life).
My attire aside (I literally ran out the door not knowing I had been subpoenaed that day – thankfully I had my Nike sponsorship so I ran fast and well supported!), the female DA took loving sympathy upon me, extending an invitation for lunch with her colleague at California Pizza Kitchen. (I had been sitting in court alone all morning.)
We had a great chat about social media and how its affecting the legal system “in a positive way,” reflected her colleague. “Before my daughter went out on a date I would need their first name, last name, and DOB. Now I just need their full name,” she chuckled.
The ladies were super impressed that I ran my own business online, and while I couldn’t remember that day if I had enough money to pay for my own lunch, I was glad to exchange knowledge and never once had to reach for my wallet.
“It would be my pleasure,” said the DA once the check arrived.
I knew what I was doing professionally would get me somewhere “someday” but in a literal sense it still meant that I constantly bartered and took the city bus for almost two years.
Upon leaving court, the DA happened to ask where my car was. I told her I was taking the bus, and she said that was unacceptable after the day I had in court.
Wait, what? I thought.
Not only had this woman bought me lunch (which was +1 from the McDonalds gift card I received while testifying), but now she’s ACTUALLY driving me HOME???
If I had tears left in that moment, I would have let them expel in a dramatic fashion quickly from my eye sockets.
Pizza and a ride home. Well done, LA DA!
While I surprisingly had a great day in court, it still didn’t change how I felt about the situation.
I was sad that this life experience happened.
I was sad that I didn’t walk on the other side of the street that night.
I was sad that I watched a man receive what felt like a “death sentence.”
I was sad that my parents were on the other side of the country when this happened, and I can’t imagine what that must have been like for them.
I was sad that this happened to me. I’ve always been a people magnet, but who the hell gets hit in the head with a brick and lives to tell the tale? I wasn’t sure if I was lucky, or so thick headed it acted as a shield of some kind.
I naturally internalize a lot of my emotions, but once this happened? I.couldn’t.stop.crying.
My brain was still “leveling out” (for lack of a better term) and emotionally I was all over the place.
Every time I tried to write about it (which was also my livelihood) …
Every time I showered and felt like a modern day Frankenstein held together with staples IN MY FUCKING HEAD …
I cried at Hallmark commercials.
I cried watching late night infomercials.
I cried because I slept for days on end barely able to get out of bed.
I cried getting out of bed because I felt so “exposed.”
I cried because I felt alone.
I cried because my friend’s and family wouldn’t leave me alone.
To say it was “right” or “wrong” wasn’t going to change anything, but the letter I received this weekend has the possibility to change everything.
I, like most people, rarely check the mail. Basically anything that even involves the word mail, outside of email and actual males – I tune out. If it’s important, people find you. If it’s not, I genuinely don’t care and won’t ever pretend to care.
As I scrolled through the catalogs, AAA membership renewal option, and bills, I then noticed the very last envelope which was also the heaviest.
I immediately ripped it open and read this …
“Nonviolent felony,” I wondered. How is a brick not considered to be in the top three of items you can get hit with and it be considered a violent offense. I was super confused, and pissed.
I immediately googled Prop 57. Still confused at the classification of a nonviolent felony, I called my father (who again is an attorney). I don’t know, was all he could say, followed by an immediate “are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I told him. “Even if this guy does get out, it was a random act of violence. I don’t even know if I’d recognize him on the street anymore. All I do know is the man I first met on Valentines day was not the man that I saw sentenced. His medication made a NIGHT AND DAY difference. I just need to make sure he stays on it.”
The reality that this man was going to spend the full 19 years in prison wasn’t great. While I’m by no means an expert, I do love the law and hypothesized that based upon the strong history of violence, he’d more likely than not serve at least 10 years. While I wasn’t sure if his DOB was accurate in 2012 (due to there being so many different entries with conflicting information in the courts database), I figured I was looking at a man somewhere near 60. If he serves 10 years that puts him in his 70s.
How strong would he be then? Would he be able to hurt someone? I wasn’t sure, but four years shy of that goal meant that I was going to do EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO MAKE SURE THIS MAN DOES NOT GET OUT.
The first call I made in the office yesterday was to the DA’s office. If you’re ever the victim in a crime, they give you a SHOCKING amount of information to reach out. One ring and a quick transfer later, I was speaking to the man overseeing Prop 57.
I stated my name and supplied my case number. “I was hit in the head with a brick. He was supposed to serve 19 years. How is this a nonviolent felony?” I asked curious, but not angry. “I had four staples to my head and a concussion for six months.” I also explained how the DA befriended me and said over and over “how lucky I was to be alive” and how “serious the courts take any sort of head injury.”
He pulled up my case and said that the DA had filed it incorrectly. “It was filed as CA Penal Code 243D battery with serious bodily injury. The GBI charge (great bodily injury) wasn’t included which would move your case from a nonviolent felony to a violent felony. Technically, it should have been filed as a 245.”
“This man cannot be let out,” I said. “It’s nothing personal, I just know what I saw over the months going to court. He’s truly better off on his meds and in his current environment.”
“This is the exact type of person the parole boards do not want to release.” (I had also explained to him that even though he wasn’t charged he had also robbed the liquor store and had a history of felonies.) He continued, “you need to write an email. Even we don’t get access to these hearings but if you write a letter via email explaining your situation they will listen. You sound so articulate, and smart. I know you can do this. They need to hear it from you.“
I thanked him for the nearly 20 minutes of his time as I hung up the phone. I knew what I had to do next, but it didn’t mean I still wasn’t pissed off.
I took a deep breath, as I opened up my email typing in the address from the form. I began writing from a combination of the heart and head. This is what I wrote …
Please excuse the typos. This wasn’t easy to write.
I’m not sure if half of my “legal sounding jargon” actually made sense, but part of me feels like it does.
I wish I could say I’m mad at the DA, but I’m not. As you can see, that woman deserves a fucking medal for how much compassion she showed to someone after me