I’m writing for two reasons. The first is for the love of my grandparents, Ed and Marie Brown.
For as long as I can remember, my grandparents have been such a huge part of my life. From sleepovers, pool parties, backyard barbecues, movie nights, lap story telling and playing dress up, they were just the best. Always there.
Every boy cousin in our family would learn about cars from my grandpa. Just by hanging out in his garage, he taught them simple lessons on how to work on their own cars when the time came for them to drive.
I would always say: I am my grandmother. From her driving habits, her sometimes silly outbursts, to even having her name as my middle name.
Until my teenage years, everything was as it should be until my grandparents told me they were moving to New Mexico. This was devastating news to me. So far away. Of course I cried and cried till the day they left and still afterward. They both told me they would keep in touch with letters, phone calls and pictures, which helped ease my mind, to an extent. We did correspond back and forth, but still with the distance, it just didn’t feel like them being here in New York. I missed them terribly.
Years had gone by, and the distance grew further. I would still send my family photos, cards and simple notes to let them know I was thinking of them -until I received horrific news about them both. They had both passed away.
Both? How? What happened?
My first thought was car accident. They were both together going grocery shopping or something like that. That in itself was so traumatic to have lost them both. I had to accept that they would no longer be in my life. I was crushed. Devastated.
A day or two later we got a phone call from my cousin here in New York. My grandparents had been murdered by the instruction of my cousin, Michael Brown.
What? Are you sure? No way. Why? What in God’s name happened?
Not one family member from New Mexico called to speak to us, to try to explain what happened or to console us. Not one.
My grandparents have three daughters: Marie (New York), Dorothy (New York) and Helen (California) – all my aunts. Were they called, told what happened or why? Why was there such a disconnect or secret for that matter?
I was disgusted and so very angry when I found out that Michael Brown had my grandparents murdered by his friends, at his instruction – and over not being able to drink beer in their home. He was told no. His friends were asked to leave the home that my grandparents and Michael Brown lived in, only to return later, getting so drunk and killing them.
My grandparents took Michael Brown in, gave him a home and loved him. Sure, they may have been strict, but that’s what “parents” do to protect the ones they love. Structure and discipline makes for a well-rounded adult – something his own parents couldn’t give him. Being told he was an out-of-control child from the age of 12, my question then is why would you have sent Michael Brown to live with my grandparents when he was out of control? They were in their 80s for God’s sake.
My second reason for writing my story is the “second chance” bill (Senate Bill 64).
If you have just a thought in your mind to commit a crime, any crime – as in this case murder – you do your time. At age 16 or 17, your brain is certainly developed to drink, construct a plan to kill and follow it through. Michael Brown was no child. He had a very evil plan, played it out, stole keys from his dead grandparents, took their car and drove to a friend’s house to brag about his accomplishments. There are no second chances.
Let me ask – and thanks to my Aunt Helen for saying this – “Why should Michael Brown get a second chance when my grandparents will never see the light of day again? Ever!”
Where are the rights of the victims’ families that remain alive? Why do we have no say in what happens to the criminal who took them from us? We lost two amazing people – parents and grandparents who were truly loved. There are so many stories and memories that I have kept in my heart and mind that can never be taken from me. Not even by Michael Brown. My entire family here in New York is behind me and this fight to keep Michael Brown in jail where he belongs. Forever, never to walk free again.
This “second chance” bill cannot be enforced nor come to fruition.
From the hearts of: Helen Kumanchik, Marie Doran, Dorothy Langdon – daughters of Ed and Marie Brown; 10 or more grandchildren; (and) arms full of great-grandchildren: We will forever keep the lights shining bright for Ed and Marie Brown and make sure that justice never fails them.
With much sorrow, and much love. …