37 Years & Forever in Heaven

Monica Payne

Domestic violence is a cause that is close to my heart.  The words “domestic violence” never entered my mind until my cousin, Monica Payne was murdered by her boyfriend, Jeremy Grissom.

I feel like I owe you all an update regarding the sentencing for Jeremy Grissom, the man who murdered Monica.  This isn’t the post I thought I would be writing though.

I posted back in April to give you all an update when Jeremy entered into a “blind” guilty plea, meaning he would forgo a trial with no deal on the table.  He admitted his guilt and would have to face sentencing from a judge.  He was sentenced last week.

You see, I thought that he would receive the maximum sentence possible for her murder and abuse of her corpse.  I thought ANY judge would look at the facts, at what he did, not only the way he beat her, but the actions he took afterwards to clean up, move her things, and put her in a bag like a piece of trash- I thought any judge would look at that and say “This deserves the maximum punishment allowed by the law.”

As with a lot of things lately, I thought wrong.

Very, very wrong.

Monica Payne

Jeremy Grissom was sentenced to 27 years for her murder and 10 years for abuse of a corpse.

The evidence was all there.  Jeremy’s own father is the person who walked in on the scene and called law enforcement.  Had it not been for Jeremy’s dad, it’s possible we would still be looking for Monica, wondering what happened, and where she could be.  Thankfully, Mr. Grissom did the right thing, probably the hardest thing, but the right thing.  And so, now we know.

We know that Jeremy beat her with an iron bar and with his fists.  We know he cleaned up the house, packed up her belongings, moved her car, wrapped her in tape and plastic, put her in a bag, and planned to get rid of her body.  We know that.

And the judge knows that.

But, I guess all of that is only worth a 37 year prison sentence.

Right now, everyone is reeling from the devastation of such a light sentence for such a heinous crime.  I mean no disrespect to our justice system, but I feel like it failed us this time.  It failed her.  Monica’s mom, Lynda spoke out for the first time in a letter to the Gadsden Times titled “No Justice” because this isn’t justice.  (You’ll see some of my comment there and I promise they did make sense, before the other person deleted their insensitive remarks.)

I also found another letter to the Gadsden Times titled “Why the Sentencing Discrepancy?” and I found it quite interesting.  I am keeping my opinions out of this post, but the discrepancy is there for all to see and I think it speaks for itself.

It’s terrifying, because now I wonder who else is walking these streets?  If you can do what he did and receive 37 years, who am I passing on the street!?

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have room in my heart for hatred.  I hate what Jeremy did, I hate that a family is shattered, I hate all of this, but I pray for Jeremy’s soul.  I forgive him for what he did, not for him, he has no idea who I am, but for me.  I can’t live with that weight on my heart, so I forgive him and I pray for him.  I don’t like him and I hope I never see his face, but I forgive him.

I have to, because I cannot allow him to have power over me.  He’s done enough.

From the looks of things, Jeremy is going to have second chance whether I think he deserves it or not, so I will continue praying that he will be a changed man, a man that never hurts anyone again.  That is the only thing I can hold onto after the outcome of his sentencing.

So that’s where things stand.  One day Jeremy will be released- he might get married, he might have children, one day his parents will wrap him in a hug.

Monica will never have any of those things.  Never.

What Jeremy took away can never be replaced, a debt that can never be paid, hearts that can never be mended, a pain that can never be taken away.

37 years could never touch all of that- no amount of time could.  What we must hold onto is the promise of forever, eternal happiness on the other side.  Just thinking about it- seeing Monica surrounded by her family again- it’s a bittersweet thought.  I wish they didn’t have to endure this pain, but I am so thankful that God has given me the promise that one day their family will be complete again.  Forever.

Stop Domestic Violence

Closure is just a word.

Stop Domestic Violence

Closure.

How many times have you heard that word after a criminal trial is finished?

Closure.

A word- that’s really all it is.

When it comes to someone you love being murdered, there is no closure.

I learned that yesterday when news broke that Monica’s murderer, Jeremy Grissom pleaded guilty to murder and abuse of a corpse.

A sense of relief washed over me as I realized a trial had been avoided.  The trial was set to start today April 4, 2012, almost two years after we lost Monica.  Over the past few weeks I’ve prayed fiercely that he would  plead guilty and spare her family the agony of a trial.  He has put them through enough already.

To say I’m happy that he pleaded guilty sounds crazy- there is nothing happy about it.  That’s why I say I feel a sense of relief.  I first saw the news on Facebook (where else?) and I literally screamed out loud and all I could say to my husband was “He pleaded guilty!”  I didn’t have to say anything else because he knew exactly who I was talking about.  The upcoming trial has consumed my thoughts and conversations the past few weeks.   I covered my face with  my hands and cried- tears of sorrow and loss.  Oddly enough, tears of thankfulness for this answered prayer.  A prayer I wish I would have never been forced to pray at all.

I don’t have room in my heart for hatred or anger- it’s taken me a long road to get here though.  Hate and anger- both pure evil monsters- are the two things that put us in this terrible situation.  I won’t let them consume me.  Jeremy Grissom will be sentenced on June 11 and after that, I am completely finished with him.  His face and his empty eyes have haunted me long enough.  I hope he gets the maximum sentence and never has a life outside of prison walls, but to continue to let him haunt me would not be fair to Monica.  This is not about him- it’s about her.

My focus is on her and helping others who are victims of domestic violence.

25% of women are victims of domestic violence.

One in four.

Yet no one is talking about it.

I’ve added a new graphic over on the sidebar.  It’s a permanent part of my blog.  While I hope none of you ever need that number, the statistics tell me that one of you will.  If it isn’t you, it’s someone you know.

I’m still figuring out where to go with this.  I have a passion now and I know somewhere down the road I can turn this into something bigger.  I can feel it in my heart that we are going to turn this hurt into help for other women.

Will you please join me in continuing to pray for her family?

 

 

The Face of Domestic Violence – It’s Not a Joke

Monica Payne

I am sitting here stunned and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to make the words flow for this post.

Shocked.  Angered.  Disappointed.

Disgusted.

I have an entire line of expletives just waiting to rush out of my mouth and onto the screen, but this is a family friendly site.

I didn’t watch the Grammys last night.  I have no idea who performed, who won what, etc.

But, I came across an article titled “25 Extremely Upsetting Reactions to Chris Brown at the Grammys” and well, my curiosity got the best of me.

I really, REALLY wish it hadn’t.  I wish I wouldn’t have clicked that headline.

If you don’t want to go read it, let me just sum it up for you:

25 different females invited Chris Brown to come beat them.

Any time.  Any day.  All night.

Oh yes, they did.

Apparently, if you are a good looking superstar, that makes domestic violence not only okay, but welcomed.

Did they not see the photos of Rihanna after her severely beat her?

Not all women get out.  Rihanna was blessed that she did.

I’d like to grab each of them and take them to the cemetary with me.

I’d like to show them HER face.

SHE is the face of domestic violence and laying her to rest at 28 years old broke so many hearts, so many lives shattered.

And these women are making fun of domestic violence.  Let me just tell you how FUN it is…

It’s holding onto a mother and only being able to say “We shouldn’t be here..” while you look at her dead daughter lying in a casket.

It’s hearing that a life is gone.  It’s replaying the scene over and over in your head.

It’s a funeral home full of sorrow.  It’s a cemetery full of beautiful flowers for a woman who shouldn’t be 6 feet under.

It’s being so angry that you have no idea what to do with it.  It’s having a clouded mind and not being able to think of anything else.

It’s visions of someone you love being beaten.  It’s wondering if she died soon or if she was in pain.

It’s wondering if she begged him to stop.  It’s wondering why he didn’t.

It’s crying until your eyes are red and stinging, but still crying some more.

It’s wondering if you’ll ever find peace and forgiveness.

It’s knowing that as hard as it is on me, it’s a million times worse for her parents and brothers.

We aren’t supposed to bury our children.  We certainly aren’t supposed to get the call that they’ve been beaten, murdered, and stuffed into a duffel bag.

That is what domestic violence is.  It’s anger, it’s hurt, it’s loss.  It is so many things, but a joke is NOT one of them.