It’s not every day you head out to the point of the mountain to visit the Big House–Mary came home from a friend’s house and Ben told her “Mommy’s gone to prison.” Mary was not pleased.
Jesus Hernandez(JH), the man who murdered Brenda’s husband, applied for a transfer to Mexico to serve out the rest of his sentence. And because murder sentences in Mexico run an average of 5-8 years and prison breaks are not punished this doesn’t seem like such a great idea to Brenda. Yes, she has forgiven JH; but she does not want him walking free.
I went as moral support as did many of Brenda’s family and friends. As we drove to the prison Brenda instructed me to talk to her about the most boring superficial things I could think of. So I talked for 30 minutes about IKEA and why I’ve never been there and why I always lose at chess and win at Scrabble.
As we pulled into the prison entrance there was a long line of cars waiting to get past the checkpoint. We saw Brenda’s lawyer/brother-in-law park his car and cross a snowbank to get in her sister’s car at the front of the line. We were afraid of missing the hearing and decided to do the same thing.
I hopped over the snowbank pretty easily but looked back to see Brenda standing indecisively with her arms full of photos and her high heels and bare legs. I hopped back over and said, “Jump on my back.” I confidently stepped into the snowbank and we both sunk into the snow. Brenda was soaked, we were both laughing and now Erik wants to put me onto an advanced weightlifting regimen.
The 90 lb. pimply guard at the checkpoint said, “I saw what you did back there and I could give you a ticket.” We honestly thought he was kidding and started to laugh. But they don’t joke at the prison.
“Just don’t do it again and I’ll let you off this time.” And to punish us he left his post for 10 minutes while we waited in line.
Finally he scowled and let us through. We entered the prison and did the typical hand over your ID, go through the metal detector, pass the wand test and were finally admitted to a holding room. Brenda’s mom ran forward and hugged us and said, “I’m just so nervous. I’m a basketcake!”
Walking into the room and seeing Joe’s murderer was extremely emotional. I’m sure we were all silently praying for Brenda.
JH spoke first. Because it’s a hearing and not a trial he can say anything he wants. He produced some tears, expressed sorrow for the murder and then went on to tell the biggest pack of lies I have ever heard in one sitting. “I didn’t mean to kill him.” “I only brought my handgun because I was going rabbit hunting.” “I just want to go to Mexico to preach the gospel.”
Thankfully, the parole chairman knew his stuff and asked questions like, “So you went to your car, loaded eight individual shells into your handgun, shot Joe eight times and all this time you were out of your mind?”
Brenda spoke for a minute about Trevor and the questions he asks about his daddy. She said she had no hatred for JH but pleaded that justice be served. Her lawyer/brother-in-law spoke so beautifully and eloquently that I have sworn off lawyer jokes for a year. He began with, “This is not a racial issue and we have no malice towards the wonderful Hispanic community in Utah… this is simply about trust in the judicial system.”
The parole chairman brought up JH’s formal reprimands while in prison. “You mixed up homemade alcohol in your cell?”
“No, no, I was just saving some fruit cocktail for later.”
“You sent a threatening letter to a guard that owed you money saying, ‘Watch out I murdered the last guy who didn’t pay me on time!'”
“Oh, I didn’t mean it like that.” Then as if to get revenge he began to say the most horrible and hateful lies about Joe– so awful that I won’t repeat them here. I could almost see Brenda’s heart breaking and Leisl began to sob.
The parole chairman obviously did not believe JH and I believe he will stay in prison. But it was a heart-wrenching experience.
The nightly news made it worse.
Channel 5 showed JH sobbing and asking for forgiveness. Everything else he said was left out. If he truly was repentant I would feel sorry for the guy; but I heard his lies and so did the reporter. Her reporting was politically correct but morally and ethically unconscionable.
Believe me, I called the station.
OK, the channel 4 news was much better.
And here is channel 5 for comparison: