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Because All Kids Deserve a Second Chance
1) The crimes are so brutal. So that means the kid is a monster. Parricide is overkill by its very nature. Imagine being terrified of someone who is  omniscient, omnipotent and has had total control over you from birth. You live in constant fear of this super-human being, your parent. When you  attack that person who has so bullied and intimidated you, two things happen. Rage and fear. Rage at how that person has destroyed your soul, at all  the terrible things he’s done to you. And fear. That no matter what you do, no matter how many times you strike that person, he will get up off the floor  and come after you and beat the living hell out of you. So instead of hitting somebody 5 times you hit them 40. Empty a pistol on her rather than two  shots. You get the idea. The crime scene, they say, always tell the tale. In this case, prosecutors and the public mis-read the signs. Or, in the case of  prosecutors, they want a conviction and really don’t care about the delicacies and fine points of abuse. That’s the defense attorney job. And too often  they remain ignorant of abuse.  2) The kid claims he wasn’t abused. So, if he admits to it later he’s making it up. Or if says he wasn’t abused, believe him. No need to further  investigate. Kids don’t admit to being “abused.” (How many battered women deny being abused—and they’re adults. They have a life history. They’re  supposed to understand those things.) Besides, these kids often don’t even believe they were abused. Trust me, if you really sit down and talk to these  kids, it goes like this, “I wasn’t abused because he didn’t break my arm. I wasn’t abused because she didn’t threaten to kill me. I wasn’t abused  because I got some pleasure out of the molestation.” Besides, these kids have NOTHING to compare their lives to. Jacob used to tell me, “I thought  my home life was just like everyone else’s. So I figured every childhood sucked. And if it looked different from the outside, well, WE looked different  from the outside.” So they’re not lying when they say they weren’t abused. They don’t think they were. Or if the light has gone on in their very jumbled,  fractured and confused brains and they’ve figured out, yeah, hitting them and raping them and calling them motherfucker and threatening them with  death if they tell anyone, they know better than to talk.  They’ve been conditioned to keep the secrets. Or, as Jacob said, “When I threatened to tell,   my parents said, “They’ll just tell you you’re bad and deserved it.” So we speak to these kids after they’ve killed someone and act as if they can  behave rationally, as if they can reason like an adult and haven’t spent a lifetime being brainwashed and tortured. And we send them off to prison for  life and breathe a sigh of relief that these monsters have been removed from the community. Oh, and by the way, kids always tell. Somebody always  knows. You just have to dig around. You have to investigate. While Nathan Ybanez was telling his attorney he wasn’t abused, discovery was telling a  different tale. Family and friends were contacting the defense attorney and prosecutors with horrendous tales of abuse. Yet, when Nathan went to trial,  none of those witnesses were called – and abuse was never mentioned as a defense. 3)  The crime was premeditated and therefore merits a first-degree murder conviction. True, which is why the definition of first-degree murder must be  changed in parricide cases. These crimes are ALWAYS premeditated. An abused kid has been fantasizing about killing his abuser or himself for many  years. Figure it out. You’re surrounded by violence. You see your parents solve their problems by violence. You’re learning that violence is a solution.  And when you think about ways to make it stop, you have very few options. One of them will be fantasizing that...  4) Guns and substance abuse are ubiquitous. And we never discuss either. Jacob shot his parents with a .357 that his mother used to have him hide  in various places when stepfather Kermode Jordan was drunk. Guns are commonplace in these households. They are used in parricide cases as much as 90% of the time. And where does the kid get the gun? From his parents or other family members. But we will never touch that third most sacred rail,  never even bring it up in court or in the newspapers, never ponder or wonder aloud at the coincidence of the choice of murder weapon. Guns don’t kill  people. People kill people. And guns make it soooo easy for people to kill people. But we will never have a rational discussion about anything dealing  with guns. And either one or both parents inevitably abuses drugs, primarily alcohol. We mention that in passing, but since so many Americans drink  too much and ingest way too many legal or illegal substances, let’s not lift up that particular dark corner either, shall we? The things we do and say  when we’re out of control, the way we scar our children. But let’s not even go there in court. And we don’t. Let’s just focus on the crazy, ungrateful,  spoiled, hateful little psychopaths.    5) These kids show no feeling. They’re not abused. They’re psychopaths. Everyone once in a while a fleeting smile will lighten Nathan Ybanez’s face  during conversation. Otherwise his expression seldom changes. At the four-day hearing his expression never changed from a neutral, slight turning of  the lips. Pleasant, non-confrontational. Witnesses testified about his “flat affect.” Translation: this kid showed no feelings, ergo he’s a psychopath. Or  let’s consider another possibility, all you experts who never bothered to read Kathleen Heide or Paul Mones – these kids are abused!  Their  expressions are neutral because, when around their parents they don’t want to scowl or smile too broadly or do anything to draw attention to  themselves, to give their abuser any ammunition to begin a tirade or a beating or to take out their frustrations of the day on the child. Often the mark of  an abused child will be an unusually soft voice, as well. Don’t want to appear threatening in any way. Furthermore, after a short lifetime of stuffing their  emotions in order to survive, a lot of these kids don’t  have feelings, or don’t know how to express them. At 15, Jacob couldn’t describe his emotions.  He didn’t really know what happiness, anger, frustration even meant. As a child Jacob cried all the time but when he reached the age of 14, something  remarkable happened, NO MORE TEARS. Nathan’s father testified that he’d NEVER seen Nathan cry. That can’t possibly be right but the implication  is these kids are inhuman. Let’s not dig a teeny bit deeper and find out why a four-year-old wouldn’t cry.     6) A variation of the above. They’re spoiled brats. In Jacob’s case the prosecutor said, “This kids wasn’t abused. His parents opened a college savings  account for him!” Nathan’s parents never had any trouble other than Nathan and his drug abuse and his friends. The father couldn’t explain why  Nathan would want to commit suicide at age 11. And after Nathan’s father threw him up against a wall and grabbed him by the throat,  Nathan  promised he would behave. After his father released him, Nathan ran outside, barefoot, wearing only his underwear and carrying his clothes. The  prosecution said Nathan’s trying to run away proved that Nathan was a disobedient child. Hadn’t he JUST told his father that he would obey him?  7) Another variation: they’re societal misfits. Nathan had started smoking pot and hanging out with “the wrong crowd,” according to his heavy-drinking  father. Jacob dressed like a hippie and hung out with groups of other kids who were also being abused or had heavy-duty home problems. Jacob’s  grades were always good—though his mother insisted he repeat the 8th grade over all the teachers’ objections. Both Nathan and Jacob are brilliant,  though both’s schoolwork was starting to suffer. Jacob was obviously severely depressed in the week’s leading up to the murders. The kids all  remarked on it, and the adults ignored it. One difference between Nathan and Jacob. Nathan was 16 when he killed his mother; Jacob barely 15.  Nathan had started speaking up and talking back a bit as happens as the kids mature. Acting out more. Jacob had not reached the outwardly  rebellious stage. He didn’t dare talk back, but the time was coming… 8) Nobody could have known. They seemed like such a happy family. Of course when you dissect these happy families, many people knew and in  most cases, they leave a trail with the authorities. A teacher is concerned, social services is called. In Nathan’s case, law enforcement took him back  home when he tried to run away and Social Services said he was too old for them to worry about. “This,” said the prosecution, “proved that the system  worked.” They were called, found nothing and the monster killed his parents for no reason.  So… when you call the authorities and they do nothing,  that proves there is no abuse. And if you DON’T call the authorities, that proves there is no abuse. These kids can’t win and they know it. And finally,  they do what they think must be done…  9) There were no clues that the kid was being abused. Always, always people know. Perhaps they just don’t understand the language of abuse but it’s  there. Perpetually moving families, isolated families, over-protective, over-watchful parents. Fellow classmates and friends know. A kid may not say,  “I’m abused” or even “My dad beats me,” but people see bruises or scars and Jacob would talk about how his “life sucked.” In eighth grade, two years  before the murders, he was absent one day. The teacher asked a question about it and several kids piped up, “Jacob’s being abused.” That rather  interesting statement was never followed up on because hey, this is all one little boy’s fault and let’s not look beyond that.     10) Why didn’t they tell the police or authorities?  See No. 8.  11) Well, they DID tell police and authorities and the investigations showed nothing was wrong.   See No. 8  12) The father abused him so he had no reason to kill his mother other than he’s a monster. Nathan Ybanez killed his mother. Witnesses agreed that  Roger Ybanez, Nathan’s father, was the physical abuser. So why would Nathan kill his mother? A couple of reasons: sometimes both parents are  abusive. One might be more emotionally abusive. Subtler, more insidious and devious. Abuse is still abuse. Jacob always said his mother was “sweet.” And then when the doors closed, shutting out the world, she was every bit as abusive as Kermode. However, Jacob and his older brother often  expressed MORE anger at her because “she allowed it! She was our mother and she was supposed to protect us.”  Sometimes, one parent is afraid of  the other and to “protect” themselves and their children from the full measure of the abuser’s wrath, they will enable him/her to continue their psychic  destruction. They will stand by while the abuser rages at the child. “He would have hurt us both if I interfered.” If they do step in, their efforts will be  ineffectual. Sometimes the abuser is ecumenical in his/her abuse. They don’t care who’s in front of them. They will lash out with their tongue or their  fists, leaving both parent and child decimated.  Often, the parents are caught up in their own sick dance of co-dependency. Jacob used to lament, “She  promised to leave him.” And then the next day, it would be as if nothing happened. As if it was all a dream. That never happened. The same way those  nightly trips to the bedroom never happened. The same way the beatings before the friendly visit with the school counselor never occurred. Or the  tongue lashing before the smiling family puts on its public face and appears in the outside world. No wonder these kids seem to be disconnected from  reality—or have vivid imaginations. Their whole world is a chimera. Black is white. Up is down.  Evil is good. They doubt their senses because what  they believe they see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears, they are told is mistaken. Or what they see or hear is NEVER spoken of. So  the kid doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not. It’s called brainwashing, and these kids have had a lifetime of it.   13) Why didn’t he run away? Nathan tried to several times and was always returned. Jacob would have left for Christmas at his father’s the next day. He  also would have been returned. Jacob, a year younger than Nathan, felt he had even fewer options. He asked friends if he could come live with them.  These kids are often kept isolated, sometimes by geography, with few friends and few visitors to their home.  Jacob had never even been to  McDonald’s by himself. And he had the skills to run away? These kids are tightly tethered to their parents. That’s the only way the parents can keep  their secrets. And it’s when these kids reach their teen years when they strain against that tether. When they start lashing out; when the parent senses  he or she is losing control.
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I am not an expert in parricide but obviously neither are prosecutors or defense attorneys and that’s why these kids, at least in CO, get life sentences. Or maybe it’s our system, which is not about justice, but winning. But here are some myths that I hear in the courtroom or from all those who want to throw kids away for forever.