Parole Hearing Victim Impact Statements (July 2005)

Choose from one of the following Victim Impact Statements that were read at the parole hearing of Andy's killer in July 2005 (listed in the order in which they were read):

    Emily Smith
    Craig Wells
    Rodney Moffitt (Jr.)
    Karen Visser
    Paulette Moffitt

Emily Smith

There isn't enough time in the world that will allow my family to heal from the wounds Andy's killer has inflicted on us.

But I stand here in front of a parole board asking you for more time.

In the conclusion to the Victim's Impact Statement I submitted to the court for consideration upon the sentencing of Andy's killer, I wrote: "when Andy's life was stolen from him, his killer took more than one life with the thrust of his blade. For every single death taken in this manner there are an incalculable number of victims. All of our lives were stolen that December night."

It doesn't seem that long ago that I had written those words; not a lot of time has passed since I first wrote those words. Indeed, not enough time has passed since the last time my family sat in the same room as the man who killed my cousin and waited for the Canadian legal system to dole out its version of "justice".

And here we are again.

Nothing has changed for my family and I since then.

In the 20 months since Andy's killer was sentenced, my family has celebrated 2 marriages, 3 births, and numerous graduations. Andy's absence has been felt at all of these occasions.

I still grieve for Andy's loss, and for the fear and pain we will never know he suffered that night, because he is not here to tell us. I still grieve for the palpable absence that is felt at our family gatherings because of his death.

I still grieve for his friends who witnessed his suffering and were unable to save him despite their desperate efforts.

I still grieve for my grandparents. They have struggled and fought and survived such ordeals throughout their long lives. They both survived the Second World War - my Nanny living in England through the blackouts and air raids, through the loss of friends and family; my Grampy fighting in the war and witnessing such unimaginable horrors that they haunt him still. They survived all of that with their faith in God, in humanity and in society still intact. Andy's killer took most of that faith away when he took Andy's life. Andy's death has aged my grandparents, and their grief has weakened their frail constitutions. I honestly do not think that it is mere coincidence that the summer following Andy's death, my Nanny suffered a heart attack; or the winter following Andy's death, my Grampy was diagnosed with cancer.

I still grieve for my cousins who believe it should have been them we lost that awful December night. I still grieve for their guilt and their anger.

I still grieve for my own siblings and my cousins, for my aunts and uncles, for my own parents, for my whole family who, like me, have had their sense of security shattered by this terrible crime. We are all a little less rational, a little less trusting, and a little more cynical because of the fear and knowledge that Andy's killer has inflicted upon us. We all feel much more vulnerable. We are all aware of the fragility of life, and how easily and senselessly it can be taken from us. We all live in fear. We fear that a stranger will harm our children if we are not there to protect them; we fear that when we say good-bye to a loved one, they might not return. If Andy's killer is released so soon after his sentencing, it will only augment our fear and amplify our distrust of society and the Canadian legal system.

I think it is far too easy for the Canadian legal system to disregard the rights of the victim, especially in cases where a life has been taken and the victim cannot speak. A corpse, after all, cannot speak to you today and let you know what the continuing impact this crime has had on him since the sentencing. The continuing impact on the ultimate victim is simple: Andy is dead. He will never age, he will never graduate from university, he will never get married, have children and grandchildren. An entire lifetime was stolen from him. Nothing can change that, or make it better. He died 6 years ago this month, 3 days before Christmas, on a cold December night, calling out for help on the floor of a favourite gathering place while his friends tried desperately to save him, and his killer ran away.

In my opinion, Andy's killer kept running. In the 4 years following Andy's death, the killer maintained a lie about his true purpose in being at that bar that night, and he refused to admit his guilt until, finally, certain witnesses changed their stories, and the truth was revealed. He maintained these lies for 4 years. He lied to police officers and detectives, to lawyers and judges, and to us: the remaining victims of his crime.

In the 4 years following Andy's death, Andy's killer traveled around Brockville in relative freedom with his mother as a chaperone, while my aunt, uncle and Andy's younger brother lived imprisoned within their home, afraid of frequenting public places for fear of seeing their son's killer.

If he is released, my aunt & uncle will return to their prison. In the 4 years following Andy's death, the killer was caught throwing human and animal waste onto his neighbour's car and doorstep. This occurred not once, but more than 20 times before he was taken into custody for breaching his bail conditions and had a mere 30 days added onto his sentence.

If he is released, I sincerely doubt that his neighbours will feel secure in their homes.

I realize that when the sentencing of Andy's killer was decided, and when a parole board reviews an inmate's application for parole, various factors are taken under consideration. I also realize that one of these factors was that the "manslaughter" of my cousin was the killer's first offense. That's quite a first offense - what will he do as a second if given the chance?

It seems logical to me that if the killer was involved in, and has admitted to his involvement in, a substantial drug enterprise prior to Andy's death, and his involvement with drugs is what brought him to Coyotes restaurant and bar that terrible December night, with a knife in his possession that was purchased that night with intent, Andy's death was not the killer's first offense. Indeed, we are completely ignorant of the crimes Andy's killer may have been involved in previous to Andy's death, but we do know that:

he was a drug dealer;

he bought a razor sharp folding knife that night;

he carried that knife on his person into a public place;

he unfolded the knife at some point during the night;

he thrust it into my cousin's chest;

he ran out the door; and he "lost" the knife before turning himself in.

We also know that he lied for 4 years following Andy's death about his true purpose for being at the bar that night; and we know that in those 4 years, he tormented his neighbours by throwing human & animal feces on their doorstep.

Is this the type of man who can be rehabilitated in a mere 20 months following his sentencing?

I don't think so.

In the years since Andy's death, it has become far too obvious to my family that the legal system favours the rights of the perpetrator over that of the victims. The "justice" system failed on the day of sentencing when Andy's killer received 5 years in jail for taking a life - for taking all our lives.

However, when Andy's killer was sentenced to a paltry 5 years in prison, my family was granted a brief reprieve from the torment of the knowledge that the man who stabbed my cousin was living in the same city, walking the same streets their youngest son walked, and shopping at the same mall where my aunt worked.

Justice Kealey sentenced my family on that day too - he told us and I paraphrase, that it is over, and that we should move on with our lives.

My family has been nursing a gaping wound for the past 6 years. It is a wound that has not been permitted to heal. It has been a raw and weeping wound that has been kept open throughout the 4 years following my cousin's death, throughout the preliminary hearing, the various delays of "justice". We sought justice, and with justice, a sense of relief and closure. But we never found it. Instead, just when we thought we might be able to breathe, to maybe start to heal, here we are - in a penitentiary laying out our souls and opening up our wounds before strangers and my cousin's killer.

How are we expected to heal when the Canadian legal system keeps picking at our scab?

There isn't enough time in the world that can heal these wounds.

But I am asking you to please, give us some more time.

Craig Wells

Thank-you for allowing me to come here today and speak on the matter of the murder of Andrew Moffitt, and the effect such a senseless act of violence almost 6 years ago has had on my life, and those around me.

Let me begin by saying that is was an unpleasant surprise to be informed that this day had arrived so soon after finally achieving some degree of closure in March 2003 when Mr. Danninger was sentenced. At the time, the sentence was unprecedented in its leniency, with credit given for time spent on bail conditions that were violated repeatedly by Mr. Danninger until he was caught. It seems hard to believe that a Justice of the court could make such an egregious error of judgement when he pronounced such a short length of time a murderer should spend in jail.

For this next statement, I wish to apologize to the family and their supporters, but I feel it important that I describe events as I saw them, to give you an accurate picture of the overwhelming effect this event had on me.

I was with Andrew Moffitt the night he was killed. I was the first person to speak with 911 operators when he was stabbed. I was the first by his side to administer CPR and comfort him until paramedics arrived. I placed my hand over his chest with a t-shirt in a futile attempt to stop the torrent of blood and I felt his heart stop and restart as myself and others tried to keep him alive. I cradled Andrew on the floor of the restaurant and tried to speak words of encouragement and hope all the while seeing the pain, agony, and fear in his eyes as he tried to understand what was happening.

Later that night I was in a room in the police station, alone and covered in the blood of my best friend, trying to rationalize the hell that I was living in. I had suddenly and violently lost a best friend, my roommate for over 2 years, and I had no idea why.

It wasn't until after Mr. Danninger pled guilty that I had the full picture of what lead up to that night, but I will speak to that in a moment. In the meantime, I had to relive the event many times in as many hours providing my statement to the police, and early in the morning of Christmas Eve 1998 I had to call my parents from the Ottawa Police Station asking them to come get me, because I had just witnessed the death of my best friend, and I wanted to go home.

I then had to return to the apartment that Andy and I shared, a place rife with memories that I knew would never grow, and would always be tainted. Over the next few days and weeks, I relived the experience again in again, in my sleep and while awake, to friends and to myself, still trying to make sense of everything. I do not remember Christmas that year, and my entire family went through the motions in a sort of shocked reverie. I can only imagine what the Moffitts were going through during the same time, making funeral arrangements for their son rather than celebrating the holiday season.

Even though Mr. Danninger was arrested by Ottawa police the very night of the stabbing, the Moffitt family, myself, and others involved spent the next four years reliving the event through video recreations, preliminary hearings, questioning, and media inquiries. And then there was the day-to-day pain of memories that came back, triggered by an event, an offhand remark, even a smell that all of a sudden sent me back in time to that night.

When I graduated from Engineering at the University of Ottawa, it was with the mixed feelings of knowing that Andy was supposed to graduate with me. When I got married, I did so with the thought that he was not here to share in the moment, nor would I ever be able to see him start a family, and have our children play and grow together. I do not think I will ever be rid of the flashbacks and nightmares of that night, but I have got on with my life and career with a resigned acceptance that all happy events will come with a sense of remorse, and a vow to never forget how precious life is. On the other hand, to so easily and callously commit murder, Mr. Danninger obviously does not hold the importance of a human life in the same regard, and should therefore not be awarded the privilege of freedom.

While Andy and I were looking ahead to our last year of University, and preparing to take on the world with our chosen career paths, Mr. Danninger decided to forego his own opportunity to better himself at university to peddle and do drugs instead. He chose a path that rejected the laws of society, one of drugs, violence, and crime. He chose to throw away the chance to be a productive member of society in the interests of making quick cash preying on the weak and substance-dependant. He chose to use illegal drugs himself. He chose to arm himself with a knife on the very day of the murder, "just in case". And when the opportunity came for him to leave Coyote's restaurant on December 23, 1998, he chose instead to pull his knife and end the life of an unarmed bystander trying to do the right thing.

Mr. Danninger had a chance to plead guilty to his crimes, and save the Moffitt family the pain and anguish of a trial, but instead he chose to drag out the inevitable, until faced with the damning evidence he always knew showed his guilt.

The Justice system, on behalf of society, gave Mr. Danninger a chance to prove himself worthy of being in society by releasing him on bail, during which time he was free to walk around, go to movies, see friends and family... a chance he took away from Andrew Moffitt forever. What did he do with this chance? He blew it by repeatedly violating conditions of his bail, including defecating on a neighbour's property, only to be placed back in jail, showing society he is neither ready nor willing to function as a law-abiding citizen.

Mr. Danninger made his choices, and so he must accept the consequences of his decisions. You now have a choice as well. In my mind, it is imperative that you show a society that currently lacks faith in our legal system that crimes against individuals and society as a whole must not go unpunished, and will not be rewarded with early parole. Mr. Danninger's actions against his fellow men over the past 6 years are a clear indication that he does not respect the laws of society, and does therefore not deserve the privileges and freedoms granted to those that do. By violating the inherent rights of others, and committing the most heinous act of taking another's life, he should be made to forfeit his own rights in the interests of protecting society.

Thank-you for listening today, and I appeal to your sense of justice and fairness to consider victims' rights when deciding the fate of Mr. Danningers's application for parole. The Moffitt family, and society as a whole, deserve to see justice for the inhumane actions of this man, and early release of a murderer is neither appropriate nor just.

Rodney Moffitt (Jr.)

Henry Danninger took my brother's life with no provocation, no reason other than to bring pain and suffering to another human being.

He is the only cause that has prevented my brother from being with his friends and family today. He is the only cause that has made my family suffer greatly for nearly six years now. One person, just one evil little man has caused all of this.

My brother, Andy Moffitt was a bright and caring computer engineering student with hopes and dreams of starting a career and raising a family. He was already a contributing member of society with a part-time job at a high tech company. Andy had every reason to look forward to the future.

In stark contrast, Andy's killer was a dropout, heavily into drug dealing and stolen property. He was not only wasting away his life, yet also the lives of countless others with the deadly narcotics he peddled.

Andy's killer was intending on causing harm that fateful night when he murdered my brother. We learned from the preliminary hearing that Andy's killer went to a mall to purchase a knife which he later brought to Coyote's in anticipation of using it on someone.

On that night, Andy's killer attacked a former roommate with a beer bottle on the head, with no provocation. He then attacked a complete stranger, kicking him between the legs, with no provocation. He then stabbed a complete stranger, my brother, with a knife, again with no provocation.

The person who Andy's killer first attacked that night was meeting him at Coyotes, a public place, because he feared Andy's killer. Not only had he been assaulted by Andy's killer in the past, yet he was threatened with bodily harm countless times before.

Even after Andy's killer stabbed my brother, he threatened to kill the other patrons, including an RCMP officer, who chased after him as he fled the crime scene.

Andy's killer did all of this for nothing, his life was not in danger. He attacked those people and swung his knife for no reason, no one was trying to harm him that night. He used his knife to kill someone, my brother for no reason at all.

My brother's death was the cumulation of wicked aggression that was not the result of a passing whim, it was the result of an evil monster bent on inflicting violence.

All along Andy's killer showed himself to be intent on hurting others. Even while preparing for his murder trial, Andy's killer was charged by police with harassment of a neighbor for throwing feces on a car. This resulted in Andy's killer losing his house arrest privileges and being locked up while preparing for trial.

Andy's killer was not just interested in assaulting people with knives. Police found a stolen shotgun at his apartment. If he had not used a knife that night he killed my brother, there is no telling how many people he could have harmed with a gun.

As you can see, Andy's killer is only able to express himself with violence. If not only to ensure he is punished appropriately, you must deny him parole to protect our society from this murderer, for as long as possible.

My family has received countless letters and emails from not only average concerned citizens, yet also members of provincial and federal parliament, senators, mayors and chiefs of police, expressing their outrage at the light sentence given to Andy's killer. All of these people are not only shocked at how little jail time was given in this case, yet also the fact that Andy's killer could possibly spend less than two years behind bars for this heinous crime.

It is hardly believable, less than two years for taking someone's life? Is that how the Canadian justice system equates one man's life, with a few years behind bars? You must keep Andy's killer where he belongs, for as long as possible. Think of the safety of our society. Think of the guilt that will be on your conscience should he be released and then repeat his actions from that night again. Think of what he did to my brother and the result on Andy's friends and family.

In closing, I want you to remember some important facts.

I want you to remember that my brother was already a contributing, successful member of society. At only 23 he had a professional job and was only a year away from graduating as a computer engineer.

I want you to remember that my brother was recently awarded posthumously by the Governor General of Canada, with the Medal of Bravery for his heroic actions on the night he was killed.

I want you to remember that the University of Ottawa has honored the memory of my brother with a memorial scholarship, the largest privately funded the school has even seen. Each year, thousands of dollars are awarded to engineering students who demonstrate Andy's qualities of caring and consideration for others.

I want you to remember that Andy's killer has used violence on many occasions, and will continue to express his violent nature on others, using knives and possibly even guns.

I want you to remember that Andy's killer fled the scene threatening the lives of the people who chased after him. He then attempted to disappear and not take responsibility for his actions. It was only because he was identified that he later turned himself in, otherwise he would never have faced justice.

I want you to remember that Andy's killer was uncooperative during the investigation and court proceedings. Because of his silence the murder weapon was never found. He then made those who witnessed the crime and my family suffer for nearly four years through a lengthy and detailed preliminary hearing. Only after newly discovered evidence did he finally realize his guilt would be shown at trial and plead guilty to manslaughter.

I want you to remember that Andy's killer showed not even one sign of remorse. He never once asked for forgiveness or expressed any sympathy for his actions to my family.

I want you to remember how Andy's killer has destroyed my family, causing us to suffer for the rest of our lives.

And most importantly, I want you to remember my brother Andy, who lost his life because of this person's actions.

I am appalled with the Canadian justice system for giving such a light sentence to Andy's killer. My brother was murdered, killed by another man in cold blood, and yet a judge gave Andy's killer a light sentence of only five years.

Please do not compound this grave error by granting parole to this murderer. Think about how Andy lost his life and how this has affected Andy's friends and family. Think of the potential further affect if he were to hurt others as he has hurt my family. Think about Andy!

Karen Visser

I met Andy for the first time in the summer of 1990, two months after his older brother Rod and I started dating. I had just turned 18, and Andy was 15. We were both very shy and so our initial interactions were very polite and brief. It would take more than a year before we actually had lengthy conversations. By that time, I was a regular in the Moffitts' home and had become more relaxed around the family. In many ways, Andy and I shared the same temperament, and so it was easy for us to get along.

In 1992, Rod's family moved to Brockville. Despite seeing less of Andy, we seemed to get to know each other a lot better with distance.

One particularly happy time of year for us all was Christmas. Rod and I would go to his parents' house on Christmas eve. We would all do last minute shopping at the mall and then have dinner together. We would stay up late, watching movies, having snacks and talking. Two movies in particular always seemed to be watched; Home Alone and It's a Wonderful Life. I can still remember lying on their basement couch at 11:30 at night Christmas eve 1998, with It's a Wonderful Life playing on the TV, as our lives were anything but wonderful, and feeling like I was in a very bad dream. That Andy couldn't be dead, that what was happening wasn't real.

When Andy moved to Ottawa to attend University, we became particularly close. I worked at Loblaws on weekends, and he would come in every week. I would show him what was on special, and he would take my advice. He confided in me about school, his girlfriends, and his life in general. I felt like I was his sister. He was never once rude to me or unkind. Rather, he was always sweet, always thoughtful.

In the fall of 1998, I was preparing to write the Medical College Admissions Test. My family is involved in law enforcement, and I always found it interesting, but my true calling was medicine. As a way to combine my two interests, I thought about specializing in Forensic Pathology. I wanted to give a voice to victims of violent crime who could no longer speak for themselves. Several of my family members and friends could not understand why I would want to be a pathologist. Yet Andy did. I remember he came to our house one night that fall, and he and Rod worked on upgrading their computers. Andy told me he thought it was a very important job, and that I would be good at it. Just a few months later, Andy was murdered. When the time came for me to choose a medical specialty, I could not select Pathology. After doing a rotation in Forensics, I was faced with vivid images and memories of Andy's death, and I knew psychologically I would not be able to cope in that profession.

I last spoke with Andy the day before he was murdered. Even though we had talked on the phone many times, and he had a very distinct voice, after I said Hello, he would always say, "Hey. It's Andy". For months afterward, I kept hearing that over and over in my head.

On the day he died, I had dinner with a friend who was visiting from B.C. I arrived home around 9:30. While Rod was upstairs on the computer, I sat on the living room floor, wrapping up the last presents. It was miserable outside. I was glad to be home. At midnight, Rod came downstairs and we watched our favourite television show. As it ended, and we were falling asleep on the couch, we had no idea that was the last moment of peace we were to have. We were both exhausted and I guess we did not hear the phone ring at first. The ringing became persistent and in a moment I was awake, with adrenaline rushing through me. It was the middle of the night. I cannot accurately describe to you the intensity of pure emotion and grief you experience in hearing that a family member is dead, murdered, upon waking from sleep. Your mind is in complete shock, your heart beats uncontrollably, and the room spins around you. No other experience in our lives had prepared us for that moment. The experience is so intensely painful, I would not wish it on my worst enemy. The numbness that set in soon after would consume me for months, and I suppose it is what helped me through the chaos that became our lives.

I lost a brother and a friend that night. I did not have a chance to say goodbye. I lost a valuable family member forever.

I believe in justice and I believe in the goodness of humanity. Yet I can never reconcile the injustice inflicted upon Andy by this person for his own selfish agenda. People do make mistakes, for whatever reasons. But they have to be held accountable for their actions. You cannot be partly responsible, or inconsequentially responsible for murder. You are either guilty or innocent. This person is guilty of taking Andy's life. His sentence and punishment should reflect the magnitude of his crime. There is no worse crime than murder; of deciding that you are so important that you are entitled to take another human's life. It is unforgivable.

As a physician specializing in surgery, I use a blade to help preserve life, not take it away. I cannot begin to understand how someone could even conceive of hurting another person with a weapon, much less fatally wounding them, and I cannot pretend to.

I do not know how Andy's killer feels about what he has done. I do not know if he truly comprehends the magnitude of his actions, or if he really cares. Yet I do know how we feel. Andy is not just a murder victim; a statistic in the 1998 crime reports. He is a son, a brother, a friend, and so much more. For those of us who love him, nothing has been the same since his life was prematurely stolen from him and us. Andy had never done anything wrong in his life. Yet his sentence for protecting his friends, for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, is permanent. His sentence could not and never will be shortened for good behaviour and time spent. His is eternal, as is ours.

Even if he were to spend his life in jail, his killer's sentence would never be comparable to Andy's. Not only did he ruin happy family times like Christmas by stealing a valuable family member from us, he had the gall to commit such a violent, cruel act at Christmas time, thus ensuring that the season would always be doubly painful for us. So much for peace and good will toward men.

Regardless of what he did or didn't do prior to the early morning of December 23rd, 1998, on that cold December night, he committed murder and that is what counts. His sentence should be a reflection of that action and not based on what he did beforehand or since.

I simply ask of you that he spend the maximum amount of time possible contemplating his actions and the hurt he's caused. The time served to date is simply not enough.

Thank you for your time.

Paulette Moffitt

The following is my opening remarks to my victim impact statement on behalf of my husband, younger son Michael, and myself.

Before I start, I would like to bring everyone back to March 27, 2003 at the sentencing report from the Honorable Justice Mr. R. J. Kealey. He stated and I quote, "the public must understand and be aware that the courts in Ontario and particularly in the Ottawa area will NOT tolerate the unlawful taking of life especially when it is the result of a stabbing with a knife carried as a weapon for use in a violent manner. For too many adolescents, teens and young men the weapon of choice is that of a knife and many carry them on their person. These are lethal and they result in the loss of life and serious injury on a weekly if not a daily basis in our city. So it needs to be made known that leniency will NOT be afforded to those who choose to so arm themselves."

These are strong powerful words spoken by Judge Kealey, "the courts will NOT tolerate the unlawful taking of life, leniency will NOT be afforded to those who choose to so arm themselves."

Today, you find yourselves, less than 20 months following a modest sentence of 5 years in prison for the taking of a life, assessing the possibility of a release of an admitted drug dealer, who purchased a folding knife with a razor sharp 3 1/2 inch blade for the sole purpose to make use of it, which he did. A man who was initially charged with 2nd degree murder only to have the Crown plea-bargain a guilty plea for the lesser charge of manslaughter.

We will no doubt hear from the killer and his representatives that he has been a model prisoner and is deserving of release. However, I submit that a period of less than 20 months for a drug dealer who operated a substantial drug enterprise who pleaded guilty to manslaughter after having taken the life of an outstanding young man with a promising future is insufficient to conclude that he has been rehabilitated to the point that he is deserving to be returned to society.

The Honorable Mr. Justice Kealey said all the right things in his sentencing summary. Where he failed however was to hand down a sentence that would serve as a clear message that respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society is fundamental. Five years for taking a human life does not do this.

The opportunity to do the right thing lies with each of you who sits on the Parole Board. In your deliberations, we urge you to consider the fact that 20 months incarceration for the taking of a life is inadequate. To release the offender at this early stage of what was a modest sentence to begin with would truly be a miscarriage of justice and will add to the loss of public confidence in the criminal justice system. To illustrate, I respectfully request that each of you try to imagine yourselves in a similar situation. To have lost a loved one through such a hideous, violent crime is difficult enough, to accept such a criminal walking the streets after having only served 20 months of a light 5 year sentence is simply unimaginable. To release this man at this time is wholly disproportionate to the harm done.

I would like to address the Board with respect to the continuing negative impact and harm this crime is having on our family both from an emotional and financial perspective.

My husband had a great job which ended suddenly after Andy was killed. It was a job that he looked forward to everyday - in fact he devoted 29 years. He had no plans on retirement, he was planning on working until the age of 65. He wanted to be able to see our youngest have the same opportunities that we were able to give our two oldest (Roddy & Andy). It did not work out that way. His employer thought it would be best to offer him an early retirement package. It was a good offer but it was the worse thing to do to a person who desperately needed a purpose to get up in the morning. His company knew that he could not give them the 100% that he always gave. They knew the long road that was ahead of us concerning the judicial proceedings. They knew that things were just going to get worse for us. They knew Rod could not deal with his loss - so the best thing they thought would be to encourage him to take retirement. They were right in a way because when a parent looses the greatest gift from God - you lose the reason to go on. Today, he works part-time in a grocery store but still misses being "Mr. Christie" and also all the perks such as a company car, car/dental insurance, company trips and all his many friends he made over the 29 years.

As for myself, my life was and still is a home-maker. I always worked part-time to be able to buy the extras that we could give the children. Life was great. We always thanked God for what we had especially for giving us three wonderful sons. They were our reason for living.....

Henry Danninger changed our lives forever. It is very difficult to express in words how we are feeling. If you are parents, I know you would feel the same way. Society faces heartbreaks everyday. People die all the time but NOT the way Andy died. He didn't just die, he was murdered - stabbed in the heart and this is what is incomprehensible for all of us to understand. He died at the hands of a drug dealer who had no value for human life. He died a violent painful death. He died in a country where our last Prime Minister said in his Canada Day speech up on Parliament Hill that "the young people of Canada are so lucky to be living in a country where there is peace. A country where all their dreams can come true. He also said that everyone must have compassion and care about their fellow man". As I listened I realized that Prime Minister Chretien could have been talking about Andy. Andy was a compassionate, caring young man who had so many dreams but because of an evil person who had no value for human life, Andy's dreams will never come true.

Picture this: The door bell rings at 4 a.m. We all jump out of bed. Michael is the first one running to the front door yelling "it's Andy" in fact, my husband and I also thought it was Andy - he was home for Christmas. It wasn't Andy standing there, instead it was a policeman who was assigned to deliver the most dreadful news that every parent fears - Andy was dead! He had been stabbed in the heart. He said he was told that Andy was trying to break up a fight - he was only trying to keep the peace. That moment Michael lost his innocence. He was only 11 years old and his world was shattered into tiny little pieces. My husband and I were standing next to Michael. We couldn't believe what we were hearing. I argued with the police that it had to be a car accident because that is how society loses their young but not this way - not by the thrust of a knife. Michael just stood there frozen - he was in shock. He didn't even cry. Thank God the police called our parish priest and asked him to come over. I didn't know what to say to Michael and I knew in my heart that the priest would be able to explain "God's will" better to him than I or my husband could have.

Henry Danninger changed our lives forever. Time does not heal. The pain is the same. The heartache never goes away. You just learn to live with it. It is like a cancer eating our hearts out. It will get us in the end. There is no cure. The only reason we are still on this planet is because our other two sons still need us - especially our youngest Michael. I am afraid for him. How many children does society know that have experienced this trauma when they were 11 years old? When Michael went back to school he had a lot of support from his teachers and peers. His peers would all assure him that Andy's killer would be punished severely. These children were all brought up to believe in punishment and accountability. As time went by some of these children would see the killer out and none of them including Michael could understand why he was not in jail. These 11 year old children are now 17 year old young adults and the system has let them all down. They have all witnessed that a life is worth very little in our justice system. They have all witnessed that a person can kill a human being and be sentenced with a mere few years.

When Henry Danninger broke his bail conditions we all finally saw some justice when we read in the newspaper that the police had picked him up for breeching his bail conditions. He was caught on 24 different occasions harassing his neighbours. He was captured on a video camera throwing human and animal feces on his neighbour's car and door steps in the middle of the night when he was supposed to be in his home. He was later sentenced to an additional 30 days. This incidence is another proof that Henry Danninger cannot be trusted to keep the peace. Even his neighbours were quoted in the newspaper stating that they were afraid to leave their children alone in their own backyards for fear of him.

Releasing Andy's killer so soon would be a sure threat to all our mental health. I don't know what everyone's reaction will be if they encounter the killer out of jail. I can only speak for myself when I happened to walk into his path at the mall where I work.

It was a week till Christmas and I was trying to bring myself to do some Christmas shopping. It was just too difficult, everything I looked at, I wondered if Andy would like it. Every young man I saw shopping I pictured them to be Andy. I ended up at the grocery store in the produce section. I ended up buying Andy a little Christmas tree for his grave. As I walked out of the grocery store into the mall, I was face to face with the killer. To me, it was like facing the devil. I was not ready for this encounter. I think I was in shock. I just turned my body toward the doors and ran to the safety of my car. I don't know how I drove home, my eyes were filled with tears. I did make it home that evening and was so thankful that I did not bring Michael with me to do his Christmas shopping. Life is very cruel sometimes. To be dead would be easier but we cannot take the easy way out for the sake of Roddy and Michael. My husband and I wonder so much what we did so wrong to be punished this way, and if there is something we did, why wasn't it us and not our precious son who gave up his life when he got up to help that terrible night?

Another incident, my husband and I were downtown coming back from our dentist. Waiting for a green light I glanced at the corner. I had to look twice and then asked my husband if he saw what I was seeing - Andy's killer standing on the corner. I remember telling my husband that it was like a bad nightmare.

As Michael's mother I am pleading with all of you who sit on the Parole Board to put the wellbeing of Michael foremost. I don't know what his reaction will be if Andy's killer is released so soon. In fact, I don't know how any of us will be able to function. It would be devastating. We are not ready for this. We need time. Time is all we have now. We are so tired, especially tired of fighting the justice system. I am begging you to consider the well being of a young boy and also his older brother. They have their whole life a head of them.

Michael gave up last year at school. He just couldn't focus, and just did not care about anything, certainly not his future. He definitely does NOT need to think of the killer being out of jail. Michael still has not been able to visit Andy's grave. He has returned only once and that was a very proud day for him. That day was the day Andy received his Medal of Bravery. It was hung with pride on his headstone.

Please do not release Henry Danninger. Please give Michael a chance to lead a healthy, productive life. Let him see that the world is not a cruel and cold-hearted place. He has his whole life ahead of him and with all our help he will turn out to be a good productive citizen. I know Andy would want everyone to make sure his little brother turns out to be a good, kind and happy person.

   Letter to the Media
   Bill C-393
   Our Angel
   Thank You
   Mike's Speech
   Memorial Speech
   Andy's Story
   Our Brother