Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Grieving Mother, Convicted Killer Meet

Dustin wasn’t allowed to attend the meeting yesterday with the person who killed him. Prison officials said no to the urn; it was too risky an item. 

Urn. Wooden, because he would like that.
I told Glenn it must be because they were afraid I’d throw it at Ashawntae. Glenn joked that the prison didn’t want this headline: Mother Assaults Son’s Killer, With Son. Sometimes gallows humor is helpful to ease tension.  

On 12/21/11, 18 year old Ashawntae Rosemon pled guilty to Criminally Negligent Homicide, Felony Hit and Run, DUII, and Vehicular Assault of a Bicyclist (for Kevin). He was sentenced to 60 months, with the possibility of time off (12 months) for good behavior. He agreed in the plea deal that he would participate in the Facilitated Dialogue Program; namely, that he would meet with Dustin’s family.

Legal proceedings. Picture courtesy of Jonathan Maus/bikeportland.org
So, Glenn and I met with him yesterday.  Ashawntae is 19 now and the father of an 8 month old son. He’s a nice looking man. After shaking hands, he sat on one side of a conference table and we sat on the other, the facilitators by our sides. 

Because the victim is the one who has to instigate the FDP, the victim is the one who starts the dialogue itself. A few days ago I watched a motivational video with the message “Start with Why.” The why, of course, is Dustin. I shared who Dustin was, what he cared about, what he did, what he meant to others; I showed pictures. Ashawntae asked questions, told us what he thinks and how he feels and what he’s wondered about. He gave us his version of that horrible night. He talked about life in prison, a typical day, programs he’s involved in. He explained his hopes for the future and why. 

Because of confidentiality rules, we can’t disclose anything that was said specifically. But it was a good experience, better than good. We left feeling that he genuinely was sorry for what had happened, that he cared and was interested in who Dustin was and who we are and what we are going through, and that he understands he has a great opportunity to change the course of his life, which he intends to take. And I made it clear that if he doesn’t, if he messes up again, we will be there to make sure he suffers harsher consequences. 

We were told the program, the “dialogue,” is now over. It is a one time deal. Oregon law is that it is illegal for offenders and victims to have contact, except through this dialogue. But I’m going to push for more. I don’t know how or where, but one contact was not enough and since it was beneficial to both parties and I think would continue to be beneficial, there’s got to be a way. I intend to find one.

For anyone inclined to be supportive of Ashawntae’s well-being and future success as a parent and a productive member of society, please send positive thoughts his way.  We are.


  1. ...I wish that we could explain all that was discussed ... it would allow everyone to see the benefits of this program and demand that it be offered in all cases such as this. Time for the laws to be modified to accept this healing process...

  2. Hi, I heard about your blog from a letter you sent to Helen. I really admire your attitude about meeting Dustin's killer Maybe it's just too soon for me, but the only thing I want to tell my son's killer (who killed another person an injured another) is how much I want to kill him and how he's safer on the inside. How I don't want him to have a life to change or plan for. How even if I cause a 1600 pound transformer to fall on his head, or that of some of his relatives, I can never be whole again. My beautiful baby is gone, and the grandbabies he would have given me are just now faceless abstractions. The prosecutor tells me at most he'll be looking at 10-12 years for 2 counts of vehicular homicide, DUI, hit and run.