I’ve been meaning to update my blog regarding the trial, but just haven’t had the heart I guess to write. There were so many emotions I don’t even know where to begin. Last week at this time I was sitting in a courtroom, feeling sick and waiting to see the guy who killed Samuel. I was exhausted mentally and physically after the long 21 hour drive from NC to Texas. Fonzy and I drove it straight thru. I think we were going on straight adrenaline to make it in that time.
While sitting in the courtroom, I looked at pictures of Samuel with tears streaming down my face, wondering how we had come to this. Time ticked slowly by while we waited.
On the other side of the courtroom was a young girl, I guess her boyfriend and some other young guy. They were there for HIM. I noticed the girl glancing at me as I cried, but she quickly looked away. I wondered what they were thinking.
Jury selection was going on for the trial. We sat in the courtroom for about an hour or so when we were told that the potential jurors would need to come in the courtroom and we would have to leave since there weren’t enough seats for everyone. We were told we should come back about 1:00pm, as they should be done by then and the trial would start. We still had not seen HIM.
Leaving the courtroom, the hallway was filled with potential jurors. I looked around and thought 12 of these people will decide the outcome of this. They would decide if justice is served for Samuel. I stood in the hallway crying, not wanting to leave, but not wanting to stay either. Fonzy finally talked me into leaving. We drove back to the hotel and decided to do some shopping. As we were leaving the parking lot of the hotel, my phone rang. It was the DA. HE had decided to take the plea. 45 years. They wanted us to head back to the courtroom for the sentencing and this was the time I could give my victim impact statement.
Back at the courthouse, I nervously waited for my first glimpse of Latarus Foster. I had seen him on news stories and online, but never in person. I don’t know what I was expecting. I was watching the area where he would walk in, but must have glanced away, because when I looked back, he was there, sitting next to his lawyer. He basically looked like the images I had seen on television and online, except his hair was picked out in an afro and not in braids. Now that I type this, I’m second guessing myself. Maybe he had braids. I don’t know. Some things I can see clearly, others I can’t.
The judge came in and had Latarus stand for his sentence. They did all the formal stuff like asking him if he accepted the plea, that it was on his own accord and no one forced him to take it. If he understood his rights and that since he was taking a plea he could not appeal, etc. Then they asked him since he was taking the plea that he was admitting that he did shoot and kill Samuel and of course he answered yes. My heart was racing when he said it, when he admitted to taking Samuel’s life. He said it so casually, like someone asked him if he liked candy and he said yes. He showed no remorse, no nothing.
Once all the technicalities were done, the judge asked if any of the family would like to say anything. I went up in front of the courtroom, faced the man who killed my son and spoke from my heart. I didn’t prepare a written statement, because I’m sure I would not have followed it. I had 8x10 pictures of Samuel that I showed him and this is what I said, crying the whole time.
“I want you to know the person you took from us. Samuel was my first born son, he loved music, taught himself how to play the keyboard and composed his own music. He would travel throughout the south, promoting his music. While he was traveling I always told him to call me, so I would know he was ok. He would always tell me, "Mom…I’m not a baby anymore. I’m almost 20.” I told him he would always be my baby no matter how old he was. He never made it to 20. I was so worried about him being in danger traveling by himself and to think he was killed right here at home in Abilene.
This is my favourite picture of Samuel as a baby.
This is him with his 3 brothers. His two little brothers will never get the chance to really know him.
This is a picture of what I’m sure he looked like the night you shot him.
And this is all I have left of my son.
I don’t want to know any details of the night you killed Samuel, I already have too many images in my head, but what I don’t understand is why shoot him in the back when he was already knocked out and lying on the ground. I just don’t understand. And not only did you take Samuel’s life, you took your own life, for what????”
I don’t remember if I said anymore after that. He looked me in the eyes as I was talking and he looked at the pictures and still never showed remorse. As I was leaving the front of the courtroom to sit down, he smiled!!! SMILED! Everyone else in the courtroom was in tears, even the girl who was there on his behalf.
The following morning while packing to head back to NC, I was watching the local news and they had the story on. They said Latarus had taken a plea of 45 years and had killed Samuel on a dare! A DARE! Someone had dared him to kill Samuel and he did!
Many people have asked me if I’m ok with the 45 years. If now I can have some closure. I am ok with the 45 years. I really didn’t want to go through a trial and have to hear details about that night. What I have heard is enough. It really doesn’t matter the details anyways, the outcome is still the same - Samuel is gone. As for closure – what is closure? Should I just now be able to go on with my life, as if this never happened, as if Samuel never existed? There will never be closure. My life will never be the same. A part of me is gone forever. My first born son, who would sleep on my chest as a baby, who was my first true love, who had a beautiful smile, and who worried me to no end is gone. Gone forever over a dare...