Debbie Cuevas Morris and the “Dead Man Walking” case.



No doubt, many of you are familiar with the book by Sister Helen Prejean, “Dead Man Walking”, which became a award-winning motion picture starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Mr. Penn played Robert Lee Willie, death row inmate. He, with an accomplice, murdered the boyfriend of Debbie Morris and raped and tortured Ms. Morris, then 16 years old. Much of the movie focuses on Sister Helen’s ministering to Willie and his redemption. I remember not thinking at all about the victims, just the story of Willie and Sister Helen. Which, now, irks me to some degree, but I understand, more than anyone the need for dramatic license and for us the journey that Willie took.

To which I say, “What about Debbie’s journey? She was the only survivor of these fiends!” Ergo, her book, “Forgiving the Dead Man Walking”, which many view as a book of faith and forgiveness. While true, it’s so much more than that and I urge any survivor to read it. Debbie contacted me a while back and I was so humbled to hear her story and share my own. That website crashed and I’ve lost her information. Debbie, if you ever read this, I’d like to chat again.

Well done, New York Board of Parole!!!!


Now this is exciting. Just terrific! This is how it should be everywhere! Thank you on behalf of victims everywhere. So much better than getting an automated phone call.

Just saying – it’s a ……

boy.

Happy hearts.

Well, that was a self-imposed exile away from blogging, although still obsessing with other folks’ blogs. Trying to cleanse a bit and stay away from the information overload (especially election-related and celebrity rehab-related) in the world. Anyhow, thank you to our two or three readers who were wondering why we disappeared.

Work has been wonderfully busy and I’ve been really tired, just trying to push through these few weeks of terrible exhaustion and morning sickness. Suffice it to say that impending new addition is quite the miracle and so far, so good. All looks healthy even though I am a nervous wreck, given my history. I am under the most excellent care and my docs are funny, caring and completely trustworthy. Now, if I could stop dry heaving…

So – where to begin? Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you – I hope there is much love in your life, romantic or otherwise. Self-love, especially, as too many people like to tear themselves down for no reason. Loving and respecting one’s self is the greatest gift you can give to a friend, child or partner.

I’ll be back later today, on message, no doubt as there is much to discuss. I wanted to say “hello” to all three of you and let you know I was back from my self imposed exile. Which is also called “laziness”. Hugs and kisses today – xoxo

The best of the year – things to comfort, enliven, bring joy!










Now, I know many of you read this blog in order to keep up on matters of criminal justice. Every once in a while, I like to diverge from that facet of my life (as it’s growing more insignificant on a daily basis – for now!) and focus on the small things that bring us relaxation, beauty, joy and warmth. Life has a way of telling us to slow down, keep a sense of humor, be kind to others and ourselves and to take good care of our loved ones and our own bodies and souls. Balancing work, children, dating or marriage, volunteer work and fun can be exhausting and darn near impossible. A few little luxuries to help you along the way:

Kinoki Toxin-reducing foot pads – www.buykinoki.com. Don’t laugh, I fell hard for this! You basically attach these to your feet while you sleep and they supposedly draw toxins out of your body. It’s hilarious. I wonder if it works. When you awaken, the foot pads have turned black – yipes!

Frederic Fekkai Sparkle Shimmer Hair Spray – purchase at www.sephora.com – this sheer spray has gorgeous hold, subtle shimmer, smells of luscious coconut and is, all-around, my favorite hair product of the year. Limited edition, so hurry!

Creme de la Mer – the ultimate luxury. Now that it’s winter, it’s time to splurge and protect skin from harsh wind and cold. Worth every penny! Available at www.neimanmarcus.com, there’s a whole range of la Mer goodness. I go with the basic formula and slather at will.

Aveda Comforting Tea – tastes terrific with notes of licorice, peppermint and herbal tisanes. It’s my addiction. Purchase at any Aveda Salon. Throw in a Bodum Assam tea press and you’ve got a teatime to remember.

Loeffler Randall rosette flats for Target – now I love retail therapy, but Target gets it right every time with their limited edition designer ranges. Grab these in rose or gold. A steal, but you have to hurry as they won’t be around for long.

Domino Magazine – really the best shelter magazine out there, featuring the high and the low ranges and completely helping us to design our dream nests. I am currently redoing the entire bunker and they’ve helped this non DYIer to figure it all out.

The Yoga Deck and Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga Series – enough with the excuses; it’s time to begin or resume your practice. Yoga has just been proven to lessen and/or eradicate deadly metabolic syndrome which leads to a myriad of heart-related maladies. Channel your inner yogi and take it slow. There’s a level for all practitioners. Calm, focused, a new you!

Opaque “Pokal” white stoneware goblets from Ikea – too cool for school and reminiscent of French picardie tumblers, these white goblets are a chic alternative to clear glass and cost $1.99 each. The bummer? You cannot order online and must visit an Ikea Store or find them on eBay.

Barefoot Dreams robes for children – Ava had blankets and burpcloths from this brand as a baby and I have one of these robes – heaven! Ava now has one and in this chilling season, it’s a Godsend. Soft and cashmere-like, these thick, chenille wraps keep your little one warm after bathtime. There are also sweaters, blankets, adult robes (yep, have one) and they are divine. Purchase at SleepyTime Store! A special thanks to that store’s founder, Scott Corbett, for contacting us and sending a link to his fantastic website. We were so excited to hear from him. Who knew we had some readers?

Container Store mini-LED Chandeliers – wow! Only $7.49, these tiny chandeliers are so divine in a small powder room or all in a row down a long hallway. Love! Purchase now at www.containerstore.com

That’s Part One, folks. Movies, books and technology to follow later. Be well and happiest of 2008 to you all.

Maybe I’m just misguided

But I do believe that the requirements for probation for a sex offender in Virginia and all states(as told to me by some stiff) is to

a) repay the expenses to the complaining witness from the Victims’ Compensation Fund (you will recall that Alex Kelly couldn’t get out unless he paid that) – for those reading, nope, still haven’t gotten my money back from March 2007. How hard can that be? I’ve written it off, but it makes for interesting reading. You fly in on your own dime to testify, that’s not exactly a vacation. It’s expensive, but not exactly a vacation.

b) get a job – according to the registry, Beebe is still unemployed. I know that he’s independently wealthy, but at least Alex Kelly works a plumbing and heating company owned by his dad. Do something, anything.

Okay. Done.

UPDATE: Still no job for Beebe and STILL no reimbursement from the Supreme Court of Virginia, according to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. Apparently, it sat on Paul Garrett’s desk for “some time” as he “wanted to get a whole bunch together and submit them in bulk”. Mine was submitted on December 5 and is somewhere in Richmond. I’d have loved to give that money to our non-profit. OH, and Beebe hasn’t repaid a cent of it to the Victims’ Compensation Fund. Just saying.

Giving thanks.

It’s such an overused sentiment and I was just musing on why we, as a country, tend to only donate food to the hungry this time of the year (as if there’s no problem with poverty year-round?)and I started getting upset as I had done nothing to change this dynamic and was guilty of it as well. We donate goods, services and money to many charities year-round, but realized that food is not a seasonal privilege for the poor.

The last two Thanksgivings were hard on our little family, so we’re looking forward to this one very much. New hopes, new attitudes, new things to be thankful for. I have also stepped into that lovely space where I refuse to give any thought to rape apologists and those who excuse heinous crime because it was “long ago” or somesuch crap. Life has new zest, sparkle and comfort and for that, I am so very thankful.

We may want to rethink all the pink….


but, yes, we’re back at work after the week’s drama, because we have dreams to spin and clients to care for. Life does not stop and work can be a balm if you are passionate about it and find balance. Thanks to all of our clients and vendors for their kind wishes this week! We are honored to serve you.

There’s never room to print a whole statement – so here it is.

“Having waited 20 years for justice this shortened sentence makes justice feel incomplete. I take heart in the knowledge that the punishment for this crime is more certain today in Virginia. Many would think this closes a chapter of my life but in truth has only opened another. That chapter is helping other victims of sexual assault navigate the treacherous waters I have just come through. Helping them begin their journey though the legal maze and have the courage not to be defined by this act of violence.

As a family, we continue to fight for the rights of all male and female survivors of violent crime in general and sexual assault in particular, especially the rights of children. While today is difficult for us as a family, our fear and focus is that the release of Mr. Beebe so quickly, without his having cooperated with prosecutors on the gang-rape aspect of the case, will deter other victims from coming forward to authorities. They may feel it is not worth the fight. Our message is this: please do come forward, find your voice, allow the system to work and be your own advocates. We believe that those in places of authority will exercise extreme caution in the future with cold cases. Let this case be an example not of the failures of the system, but how we can make it better.

For the general public, please rally around those who have been sexually assaulted and do not let it become something so commonplace that we are immune to its devastating impact. With grace, support, prayer and guidance, help those in need, no matter the circumstances. Believe in them and assist them in any way you can. This has never been a womens’ issue, but a human rights issue and we have the duty to protect our fellow man from harm.

We’d like to thank Chief of Police Tim Longo, Detective Nicholas Rudman, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Claude Worrell and Victim Advocate Cherri Murphy, who were so helpful to us during the past two years. We’d also like to thank the people of Charlottesville, for their hospitality and warm wishes.

We look forward to the next phase of our lives as advocates and committed and loving parents to our child, in order to make the world a safer place for her and all people.”