Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Disturbing Case of Abuse Survivor (and Current Prisoner) Wendy Maldonado

I recently watched the HBO documentary "Every F***ing Day of My Life). I had heard of the case of Wendy Maldonado previously but didn’t know the full details. Now that I know more it is heart wrenching to me and I decided I needed to do what I can to remedy the situation.

Normally this website is devoted to things of the exercise and health nature. However, I don’t think pleading the case of Wendy Maldonado is that far out of the usual scope as it pertains to her mental health and well-being. As such, I hope you will take the time to read this and do what you can to help free Wendy from prison.

You can read so much more about what happened to Wendy and her family on their own website here but allow me to give you the pertinent details. For nearly 20 years, Wendy was beaten, cowered and abused by her husband.  Her four children, all boys, were also frequent recipients of the sadistic beatings. Often driven out to the forest and told she had “ten seconds to convince me not to kill you”, Wendy finally snapped.

With no question, Wendy’s actions were brutal. She and her oldest son, Randy (himself the most frequent recipient of the beatings handed down to the children) slipped into Wendy’s husband’s room and quickly bludgeoned him with both a hammer and an axe. I share these gory details as I do not wish to be said to be sugarcoating or hiding anything. Wendy’s husband (who I refuse to give a first name to because any person who does such acts shouldn’t even be called human) later died at the hospital. The only reasons he made it to a hospital in the first place is because Wendy immediately called 911 to report what she had done. When the 911 dispatcher asked her “Did he try to hurt you or anything?” Wendy responded:

“Every f***ing day of my life.”

Wendy pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 120 months (10 years) in prison; Randy pleaded guilty to second degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 75 months (six years and three months), which was reduced to 65 months (five years and five months) because he already served time. In spite of the fact that the court recognized this was “the worst case of domestic violence any of us has seen," it was noted that state law left the Judge with no flexibility in sentencing. Oregon statutes allow deadly force only against an immediate threat of serious injury.

In the interest of disclosure, in my former life, I was going down the path of a district attorney.  I am definitely one who sees things from “that side of the fence.”  However, I am absolutely baffled how the prosecution in this case sought to put Wendy and her son behind bars. Obviously their actions were awful. However, as the court even said, it is obvious they were done as reactions to a systematic beating and defiling of human life at the hands of Wendy’s husband. How they could not think they were always in an immediate threat of serious injury is beyond me.  How deputy district attorney Linda Wingenbach could say at sentencing that with regard to Wendy’s statement of her life being in danger “every f***ing day” could be an exaggeration leaves me stunned. How many days a week is an appropriate amount of not- exaggeration? Four? Two? Twice a month?

I know I am coming to this entire episode very late in the game but with Wendy still not to be released until, at the earliest, March 7, 2016, there is still time to seek clemency from Oregon’s governor. Granted, Oregon’s governor has only granted one clemency and that was to an inmate who didn't want his help, convicted killer Gary Haugen. Kitzhaber does not want Haugen executed on his watch. While possibly admirable, possibly simply politically minded, Wendy Maldonado’s clemency should be the second he grants.

It saddens me that this Change.org petition (which I just signed) is still 11,000 signatures short of the 20,000 needed to get this petition in front of the Governor. With so many people gladly clicking on “like” on Facebook for the most mundane things, or pouring ice over their heads in support of funding to combat a disease, here is a chance to actually make a difference, directly, in the life of another human being.

Think of Wendy Maldonado. Beaten, broken, threatened with murder on a frequent basis. Wearing dentures for years because her own teeth had been repeatedly knocked out. Covering holes in the walls of her home where her head had been using as a battering ram with the drawings her children made. Fearing the next strangulation will leave her dead and her children completely vulnerable. Finally, one evening, she sees a chance to gnaw her own leg off in order to escape the bear trap of her life and get her children out as well. Still covered in bruises and lacerations from her latest strangulation/beating she finally does that gnawing.

Now imagine Wendy Maldonado as your own mother. You are the beaten children cowering in the corner, sleeping with shoes on in case you need to flee. Finally, your mother saves you from death. Should she be still sitting in prison?

1 comment:

Tracy French said...

no she shouldn't have spent this much time in jail.. I get that she was beaten and its horrible and I feel for them all. I think she has done more then the time she should have.. let her out and give her family PEACE. once and for all..