posted on November 14, 2012 13:11
Below is the transcription of the majority of Grace Suozzi's speech at sentencing Tuesday for Jacquetta Simmons. Suozzi was the Wal-Mart worker who was punched on Christmas Eve of last year.
"My daughter is checking on me frequently in case of a heart attack. Since the assault I haven't been able to sleep. I lose my concentration. I'm not comfortable in public places. I only go out for doctor's appointments which my daughter takes time off work to drive me in Buffalo and Wyoming County as much as three times a week. I can't go to Wal-Mart and be reminded of the physical and emotional impact that took place there. I can't even use my 10 percent discount. I didn't expect my life would be exposed throughout the media. I'm no longer Grace anymore -- I'm the older woman who was assaulted at Wal-Mart. The community is outraged. I have received more than 600 cards with a personal message and prayers for my healing. I do not have a normal life anymore. (Simmons) has taken away my health -- which I worked so hard to maintain without mediciation. Now I'm forced to be on blood pressure and pain medication and go continually to doctor's appointments: CAT scans, MRIs, blood work. My golden years take on a new vocabulary due to Ms. Simmons. This was not a lapse in judgment or a mistake. She chose to bully me. I was so humiliated and embarrassed for myself and the customers to hear such filth coming out of her mouth. She took away my independence and my pride. Working at Wal-Mart and at the Board of Elections helped me to pay my bills. She has taken my joy and replaced it with physical pain and emotional trauma. She felt it was OK to drive with a suspended license. She felt it was OK to park in a handicapped spot. I'm ashamed that as a Christian, she placed her hand on the Bible and lied under oath. Ms. Simmons could have taken the plea, but she chose to put me and the witnesses through the trial. We all had to relive that horrible nightmare. She should bear full responsibility for her actions and be sentenced to the fullest extent and I will pray that she, too, will seek and serve our Lord, instead of Satan. When people ask, I say it could have been worse if God wasn't there to catch me."
Suozzi's son Joe who lives out of state had a statement read to the court room. Daughter Teresa Wormley also spoke making the following points:
-She became Grace's primary caretaker which took away from her time at work, including her vacation and sick days.
-She described how grace set her legal documents (will, etc.) on the dresser in case she died in her sleep. Both Grace and Theresa were fearful that Grace would suffer from a stroke or heart attack. Doctors said Grace suffered from a silent heart attack due to the incident.
-"Our lives changed in a matter of seconds because of Ms. Simmons." --Teresa
-She pointed out how much smaller her mother Grace is than Simmons. Grace stands at 4'9"
-She described her emotion throughout the aftermath, worried that she could lose her only living parent and "best friend."
-"(Grace) doesn't have a good quality of life anymore." --Teresa
-She spends all her time checking in on and working about Grace.
-She desribed her 2011 Christmas when, instead of celebrating with family and friends and enjoying the warmth and food of the holidays, she had to "explain what an order of protection was."
-The whole family continually relives the nightmare.
-Judge Robert Noonan said he read many letters in support of Simmons. They described her as an upstanding citizen who had a bad moment. Simmons, who is very pregnant, has no criminal history (only traffic violations) and has a college degree. She was attending the College at Brockport to get her bachelor's degree, but dropped out due to the incident.
-One defense attorney spoke on Simmons' behalf saying she is not the person that has been portrayed in the media. She comes from a two-parent household, is married, and has a clean record and strong grades throughout school. The attorney also said she personally received no indication that Simmons was racist.
-Simmons beliefly apologized before the sentence was handed down.
-Judge Noonan called her action "an unusual first criminal offense."
-He called the fact that she wouldn't produce the receipt "absolutely beyond bizarre." He said Suozzi was just doing her job to ask for a proof of purchase.
-Ultimately, the Judge disagreed with the defense's assertion that Simmons had shown any remorse.