Victim Impact Statement
Forever is a long time.
Finally another painful milestone is behind us. Robbie Gillespie was sentenced to 10 years for his role in the death of our daughter. It was an emotional day for everyone. Thank you to everyone who has stood behind us and supported us during this tragedy.
What follows is our Victim Impact Statement at the sentencing hearing of Robbie Dean Gillespie in the death of our beautiful daughter, Evelyn Jean Courtney. It is very long. I have broken it up in to smaller sections for your convenience.
“I’ve got six cracked ribs, I’m in a lot of pain,” “I’m grieving on the inside. It’s been a really tough week.” “It was simply an accident,” “Yes, I feel terrible that it happened, but in the same token I know in my heart that I was trying to do the right thing.”
These were the first words that we heard from Robbie Gillespie.
In subsequent interviews, we heard of how much Gillespie lost—his wife, his kids, his job—not once did he offer any form of condolences to us for our loss. Not one time did he look into those cameras into our faces and say, “I’m sorry”.
Now, instead of remembering the times I could have had with my daughter—watching her grow in her career, working with her as we grew together, grandchildren and all of the holidays and events that we would have attended, and finally the first dance of a father of the bride at her wedding—all I have now to remember her is a tree in Lake Poway and a sun-faded orange circle in the intersection of Poway and Midland roads a constant reminder of where Evelyn breathed her last breath.
We have driven over and around that circle hundreds of times since her death. It is our own personal “circle of hell”. We have retraced the path of her death hundreds of times, and each time we imagined what she saw, what she thought, and what she said in the seconds before her death.
Our house, once a bustling center of teen activity, is quiet. The door to her room, often closed because it looked like a disaster area, is now open, displaying a neat and tidy, almost clinical room that never gets messed up. Unless we have a guest, it’s a museum where the only patrons are her mother and I.
Evelyn is on our minds every minute, of every hour, of every day. Gone is her raucous laughter, her boisterous sense of humor, her impressions, and her practical jokes. No more do I wake up in the middle of the night to find her watching old black and white movies, or writing songs, or drawing pictures. Now I wake up in the middle of the night sweating, pacing the house, and finding silence.
Instead of waking up to her poking me in the face with her finger, I wake up to a nightmare, to crying, anxiety, to nothing. There are days when the countdown to sleep begins upon awaking.
Christmas was always Evelyn’s favorite holiday. We would watch Christmas Vacation every year. The Christmas before Evelyn was killed was one of her proudest moments. She had a job and her own money to buy us all presents. She was a very generous and giving person. There is a picture of me where you can’t see my face because of the stack of boxes in my lap. Evelyn loved to decorate the house and the tree. That was true of most holidays, she loved to decorate and be festive.
This Christmas we couldn’t bear to be at home. It was too quiet, too lonely, and too empty.
The house is quiet, the silence is deafening.