This was both unexpected and a first for me. Either way it doesn't feel very good, even though rationally I know I really didn't have THAT big of a part in it.
A 20-year-old kid who went to prison for 18 years a few weeks ago, and whose sentencing I attended and wrote extensively about, and whose attorney tried to claim years of abuse and mental health issues (more on that in a minute) .... hanged himself in prison yesterday. :-(
Part of the guilt is that my former officemate is now stuck with the fallout -- the kid's biodad called me all pissed off after the story ran and ripped me a new one, basically, for things that weren't my fault (like his not being notified of when the sentencing was. Um, if you really cared about your kid, wouldn't you be in enough touch with him to know that?).
Part of it is that I feel bad for my favorite judge, who was the one who imposed the sentence.
Part of it -- OK, most of it -- is that I rail all the time against scofflaws trying to get out of punishment by playing the mental illness card, because you know? I have a list of mental health diagnoses as long as your arm and I still manage to be a reasonably productive, law-abiding member of society. Or at least I have the sense to only turn my anger, etc on myself instead of, say, kidnapping my stepdad at gunpoint and crossing state lines (one of the many things this kid did that got him 18 years). His attorney played up the mental illness and parental abuse deal. His mom and stepdad pleaded with the judge to give him the maximum possible sentence so that he had a chance of straightening things out with (taxpayer-funded, natch) therapy. And now he's dead.
Ugh. This is striking me as a good time to down a couple Xanax and go back to bed.