The National Parole Board says
the parents of a slain Brockville man will have their chance to explain
why their son's killer should remain in jail.
The victim's mother says she will use the opportunity to do whatever it takes to keep the man behind bars.
The words will flow, Paulette
Moffitt said Saturday, when she explains to parole board officials on
December 8 how the thrust of Henry Danninger's knife one wintry night
in Ottawa robbed her son Andrew Moffitt of his life and permanently
devastated the family of the 23-year-old Good Samaritan, who was simply
trying to stop a fight when he died.
"They said it was the drugs
that made him to do it, but that's no message for the young people -
there's no excuses for taking a life," Moffitt said.
"I want (Danninger) in prison.
(Andrew's younger brother) Michael was 11 when it happened, and it was
two days before Christmas and he ran to the front door thinking it was
Andy coming home and instead it was the policeman."
Danninger, also a Brockville
native, was sentenced to five years in prison 18 months ago after
fatally stabbing Moffitt, a University of Ottawa engineering student,
at the Coyote Bar in Ottawa just before Christmas of 1998.
Danninger went to the bar armed
with a knife to confront a roommate he believed was stealing his drug
stash. Moffitt died while trying to intervene, a heroic attempt that
posthumously earned him the Governor-General's Medal of Bravery.
Now Danninger has served a third of his sentence and become eligible for a parole hearing, said NPB spokesman John Vandoremalen.
But that doesn't mean he'll automatically be released, Vandoremalen said.
A two-member panel will
consider everything in an offender's history to determine if he or she
poses too great a threat to be released.
The panel is also looking for evidence that offenders understand what led them to crime and have plans for a law-abiding life.
The family will have a chance
to address the parole board, Vandoremalen said. The panel will
afterwards choose between day or full parole, or deny an offender any
type of release.
The thought of Danninger resuming his life after destroying her family chills Moffitt.
"For him to be free and out as
if nothing has happened - for him to be able to go on with his life
..." Moffitt said, her voice trailing off. "We wanted him in jail and
when he was only given five years then he should be put in for five
years. He shouldn't be out for being a good prisoner - he should be
paying the price.
"We just can't believe it's
here already, that we have to take it in all over again," she said.
"We've been doing our statements and it is just like re-living the
whole nightmare. It just brings it all back.
"We can't sleep and I'm up half the night thinking about Andy and facing the killer again."
Moffitt said she often
contemplated suicide following her son's death. "I'll be driving the
car and I'll think, 'That's the perfect spot to just end it,'" she said.
She perseveres, she said, for
her husband of 35 years, Rodney, her 32-year-old son Rod Jr. and
especially for her son Michael, now 17, who suffers still from the
death of his beloved older brother.
She speaks to the media about
such a personal tragedy because she feels others must know how the
system can fail the victims of crime.
"We're not strong, but we have no choice," she said. "We either fight or we give up."
(With files from the Ottawa Sun)
Published in Section A, page
1 in the Monday, October 25, 2004 edition of the Brockville Recorder & Times. Posted 4:37:41 PM Monday, October 25, 2004.