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GUILTY FL - Bryant Wilkins, 13, & Durontae Caldwell, 3, die in hit & run, Tampa, 31 Mar 2004

Discussion in 'Recently Sentenced and Beyond' started by Casshew, Apr 22, 2004.

  1. Casshew

    Casshew Former Member

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    Two boys were dying in the street. Those who have met Jennifer Porter can't imagine her fleeing.

    TAMPA - When the news finally hit Muller Elementary, it was so unsettling and perplexing some of the children cried and others simply put their heads down on their desks. Their 28-year-old dance teacher had been involved in the hit-and-run that killed two boys just down the block from the school.

    What kind of person would drive away, leaving children dying in the street?

    Pretty, soft-spoken Jennifer Porter?

    Porter's students couldn't understand "why someone who is so good" could be that person, said Dr. Tracy Schatzberg, a crisis counselor who visited the school. "They want to know why, and we can't really explain why."

    But how to explain to 10-year-olds something that makes little sense even to adults, particularly to those who know Jennifer Porter?

    Across the country, people acquainted with Porter in various stages of her life are struggling - with no success - to square their memories of her with her decision to flee the crash scene.

    http://www.stpetersburgtimes.com/2004/04/18/Tampabay/How_could_the_woman_t.shtml
     
  2. mindys

    mindys Former Member

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    Maybe she thought if she stayed, the locals/parents would beat the chit out of her. What an awful thing, for the kids, everyone involved. But now there will always be that suspicion that perhaps she was under the influence or hiding something when she left the scene.
     
  3. Casshew

    Casshew Former Member

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    Mindys.. there is more to this than meets the eye... I know her parents are refusing to cooperate with Police and that they may have given her some advice via cell phone right after the accident.
     
  4. lorann

    lorann New Member

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    If she was under the influence of something, it most likely will come out. Not to excuse her, how many of us when we are busy and have too much to do, do stupid things, careless things... She won't be excused, she must pay for this. To not stop is hard to understand - most of us would stop if we thought we might have hit an animal - but four children?

    The saddest part is the loss of those young lives, who knows what they might have accomplished? I feel for those famililes and young friends of the ones who lost their lives. Next, I feel for all of those students who have lost the person they thought their teacher was - we try to put good people who set good examples up on pedestals for the young ones to admire. Then their example has a crack. She evidently seemed to have tried to set a good example ... This whole thing is so sad.
     
  5. SieSie

    SieSie Active Member

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    The article says she was leaving after working late, so I doubt she was under the influence. I don't understand, either, how someone could leave the scene like that. Especially knowing how much she cares about children. It was probably a legitimate accident, maybe the boys ran out into the street, maybe she reached to turn on the radio, who knows. I just can't understand fleeing and waiting 5 days to come forward. It surely doesn't jive with the glowing personality from her friends and students.
     
  6. mindys

    mindys Former Member

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  7. mindys

    mindys Former Member

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  8. PrayersForMaura

    PrayersForMaura Help Find Maura Murray

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    An interesting, in-depth article:

    The hard road

    That Friday morning, he woke not knowing any of it, not her name, not her story, not the how or why.

    But as Barry Cohen drove his midnight blue Mercedes from his Redington Shores condominium to his law office in Tampa, he felt outraged over what had happened to the four children on 22nd Street. He kept thinking about the accident, the children on the pavement, the mother's grief.

    Headed across the bay, Cohen knew he had to do something. He decided to offer his own $10,000 reward. He wanted to know who had left those kids to die in the street.

    He tried to envision the type of person who could have done this. There was no face, just a word that repeated in his head.

    Coward.

    * * *

    Cohen stepped out of the elevator, walked across a golden oriental rug and pressed his index finger into a security scanner. A green light flashed, and he pushed through the wooden doors. His offices took up the entire 10th floor of a downtown high-rise.

    A predator motif asserted itself throughout the suite. A wolf's head sat on a pedestal in the lobby; a brass lion bared its fangs on an end table; a ceramic tiger padded across a coffee table. Next to his desk, Cohen kept a stuffed wolf. Without irony, or a trace of modesty, he would tell people the wolf was his totem. Succumb, it was meant to say, or be torn to pieces.

    To Cohen, the law was war. At age 64, he had spent more than three decades fighting prosecutors and charming juries in some of the bay area's most notorious cases. He could be captivating, grandiose, compassionate, prickly, mercurial. In successive breaths, he could flatter you, berate you, vivisect you.

    It was Friday, April 2, 2004. As Cohen was settling into his corner office, one of his top criminal attorneys, Lyann Goudie, stepped in with some news. After midnight, the firm's answering service had received an urgent message. It was someone calling on behalf of one of the drivers in the hit-and-run.

    Cohen didn't know if he wanted to help. But he couldn't resist learning more.

    "Bring them in right away," he said.

    These days, it was rare for Cohen to take a criminal case. Criminal work was gritty and stressful. He had spent the past decade transitioning his firm into the more lucrative civil arena, suing insurance companies and hospitals for medical malpractice and wrongful death. He took the occasional criminal case when he felt a connection with a client. Colleagues said it was partly why he had been so successful; he tended toward cases that struck a chord with him. Once, Cohen said, he had turned away a wealthy woman accused of killing two people while driving drunk.

    "I can't represent you because I don't like you," Cohen remembers telling her. "If I don't like you, I can't make a jury feel the way I want them to feel about you."

    About an hour later that morning, Cohen and Goudie stepped into the firm's law library. A mother and a father were seated at the big conference table; between them was their daughter. It was obvious who had been in the accident. The daughter was crying.

    Cohen's eyes focused on Jennifer Porter. Her head was lowered; her body was hunched over the table. She looked fragile and devastated, nothing like the monster he had imagined. He thought of his own daughter. What would he feel if she were seated across from him, bent over with grief? He felt his anger over the dead children giving way to sadness and pity.

    James and Lillian Porter started to tell Cohen about their daughter. He listened, weighing all the things that made this pale young woman more than just the driver in a hit-and-run case. She was an elementary schoolteacher. She was 28. She lived at home. She had never been in serious trouble.

    Even before Jennifer Porter spoke, Cohen had decided to accept the case. He was already feeling protective of her. He knew that the parents - a postal worker and a teacher's aide - could not afford him. He would do it anyway...

    LOTS more.... I couldn't stop reading this one...
    http://www.sptimes.com/2005/11/14/State/The_hard_road.shtml
     
  9. PrayersForMaura

    PrayersForMaura Help Find Maura Murray

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    It's a five-part series... this one goes before the one i posted above.

    This is day one: twilight

    After the accident, the desire for a face grew almost unbearable. People saw the mother cracking with grief on TV, begging someone to come forward, and it became impossible not to wonder who could have driven away from such a thing, who could have felt those impacts and heard those sounds and then kept going, staring ahead through a broken windshield, the night and the future suddenly fragmented.

    Finally, a young woman stepped in front of the TV lights. A schoolteacher, so still and muted she almost seemed invisible. Someone who had never before made a mistake, or at least none that mattered. A person who spent her days surrounded by children.

    At the jail, Jennifer Porter gave her fingerprints and stood in front of a camera for the image that would follow her forever. Her long brown hair was shown hanging over her shoulders. Her eyes stared slightly downward, big and dark and dead.

    It became the test. Some, seeing the photo, would say Porter appeared cold and self-absorbed. Others insisted they saw numbness, despair, a sense of something irrevocable.

    Her face, identifiable at last, was no longer just a face. It had become a blank canvas on which a multitude of assumptions could be projected, on which the boundaries of justice and human frailty could be debated, on and on.



    * * *

    The case invited every judgment. In the long months that followed the accident, invective was hurled at not just the driver, but her family, her lawyers, the prosecutors.

    Even the mother of the four children was not spared.

    For Lisa Wilkins, it was terrible, enduring these things while everyone watched. She was grieving for two dead children and caring for two injured ones and carrying another in her womb, and all the while people kept pointing. Sometimes they came right out and said it.

    "Aren't you the lady whose kids got run down?"

    Weeks passed in a blur of people drifting into Lisa's apartment, giving awkward hugs, saying words, shedding tears, disappearing. There were activists and reporters and politicians and neighbors and attorneys - strangers, mostly - showing up all the time. Once, someone appeared, claiming to represent Johnnie Cochran's office.

    Disembodied voices denounced her on radio shows and in letters to the editor, calling her a negligent mother. She had allowed her kids to play alone by that busy street, they said. She had failed in her most basic duty. There was the hint, through it all, that she hadn't loved them enough.

    When asked to recall what happened, Lisa would break down. She would cry, look away, shake her head. Then she would gather herself and tell it as best she could.



    * * *

    It was the afternoon of Wednesday, March 31, 2004. That day, Lisa remembered, her oldest child, Bryant, came loping home from his Tampa middle school, insisting he had no homework.

    "Mama," he said, "can I go to the park?"

    More: http://www.sptimes.com/2005/11/13/Thehardroad/Day_1__Twilight.shtml
     
  10. Cypros

    Cypros New Member

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    Maybe she was on her cell phone. ???
     
  11. PrayersForMaura

    PrayersForMaura Help Find Maura Murray

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    she came forward the next day i believe, not five days... she just didn't talk to the media right away. I don't blame her...
     
  12. Details

    Details Former Member

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    It sounds like it was a bad enough hit that she has to have known she hit something at the very least. And I'm pretty sure she didn't come forward for a few days (the police would have told the media at the least that they'd found the person, if not who - and in a hot story like this, who quite likely would have leaked out if they knew). You find out who you really are in a situation like this, and she just failed the test - paniced and thought only about herself.
     
  13. PrayersForMaura

    PrayersForMaura Help Find Maura Murray

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    It depends what you call a few days and who you think she should've first reported it to. But it wasn't five days. Not that I'm sticking up for her.
    It's terrible that she didn't stop right then. I probably would've stopped if I hit someone. I'd be scared but I would stop. She didn't. Does that make her a bad person? I'm not one to judge good and bad, I have enough skeletons in my own closet.


    She hit the children at 7 at night. She told her family right away.
    She went home, her father told her not to go to police. He cleaned up.
    About 30 hours after she hit the children, they left a message on an attorneys machine...
    About 40 hours after she hit the children, the family met with an attorney.
    They couldn't even afford him, but he took the case anyway.

    That's roughly a day and a half.
    The lawyer called the police and said he had the person who hit the children but didn't want to name her if there would be a warrant.

    2 full days after she hit the children, the police came to her house where she lived with her parents and looked at her car.

    4.5 days later, they talk to the media.

    If talking to the media means coming forward, then yes, she took 4.5 days to come forward.

    If personally talking to the police means coming forward, yes, it was about 2 days.

    If calling the police means anything, it was a day and a half.

    If personally feeling remorse about hitting and killing the children is an issue, she felt that instantly and reacted differently than most humans would.
    Crawling into a fetal position and asking your parents what to do because you don't know what you should do on your own is an indication that you've never made a decision to stand on your own two feet.
    You've never been in trouble, you've never had a traumatic event happen...
    She didn't do the morally right thing.

    And those poor little boys are dead.
    And the story completely made me cry last night.

    I found myself empathizing for both sides.
    Mostly the mother of the children and the children who lost their lives, but the girl, too.
    She has to live with that for the rest of her life and looking at her, I believe she has suffered consequences.
    She does not look like a happy person at all.
    She looks miserable.
    I don't know her personally, but she's not looked well.

    I got all of the timing info from this story http://www.sptimes.com/2005/11/14/State/The_hard_road.shtml.

    It might be off, but I've been reading some of the archives since I found the links yesterday and it seems that all of this info is fairly consistent.
    If I am wrong, I apologize.
    I wasn't there ... but this is how I understand it to be.

    I just don't think she should be slandered wrongfully any more than she already has been. She's done an unfortunately terrible thing and I wouldn't want to walk a mile in her shoes :(
     
  14. Details

    Details Former Member

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    To me, any days is too long. Running away is wrong, but is a panic response - that ended within an hour or two. After that, she should have called right up and turned herself in.

    Running away though - those kids could have been injured but able to be saved had she stopped and tried to help. She didn't know how badly they were injured - her choice to run away could have killed those boys - I don't know if it did, but she didn't know, and still didn't stop. That's what I find really hard to see - how could she not stop and try to give first aid???
     
  15. PrayersForMaura

    PrayersForMaura Help Find Maura Murray

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    she found out later that night from the news that they died...

    Like I mentioned, I am not sticking up for her.
    I just read the stories and know what I know from educating myself on the case before making general assumptions.

    She didn't do what most humans would do. She didn't stop to help.
    I don't know why she didn't, but she didn't.

    I think her sentencing was fair though.
     
  16. Details

    Details Former Member

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    I do understand that you are not sticking up for her - I just think she is a lousy person. I can't understand leaving the scene - one of the kids could have been bleeding to death and could have been saved by her just putting pressure on the wound. I just don't see how you don't stop when the stakes are that high.

    But given that she didn't, which I can explain away a little with adrenaline and stress and shock - once she was over that shock, she continued to try to hide rather than to take responsibity. All that night, the whole next day, that night again, then in the morning they take the first steps - not towards admitting it, but towards getting legal protection! After they get that, it's another 8 hours before they're willing to slightly talk to the police, only if there is no warrent. That is a huge amount of time, IMHO.
     
  17. PrayersForMaura

    PrayersForMaura Help Find Maura Murray

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    Yeah, you are right. I see what you mean.
    And the poor kids' mother just needed some answers.
    Maybe the kids could've lived if they had gotten a little help a little sooner.
    I wonder how she didn't see them.

    The whole thing is just very very bad.
     
  18. SadieMae

    SadieMae Former Member

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    This was a very heartbreaking case for me to follow, good people were on both sides of the incident. Jennifer was a good girl, I agree she should have stopped. I think the shock of what happened was just too much for her deal with and I can understan that too. I feel so badly for the mother knowing her children were just left to die. Many didn't agree but I feel her sentence was just. A lot of people wanted to throw the race card, but it's not about that and so unfair to her. Can't remember where now, but when she was sentenced it was played off like some rich white girl runs over poor black kids and barely gets time. I found that very offensive being a person of color!!! I didn't see it that way at all. She had an accident and made a bad choice in reacting, she will be punished under the law, but she will also suffer the rest of her life for an accident that happened.
     
  19. nanandjim

    nanandjim Former Member

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    I just don't understand why Jennifer didn't stop to help the kids unless she was in a very bad part of town. At the very least, she could have pulled over and dialed 911 for immediate help.

    I can understand her being overwhelmed and in a state of shock. Hell, I got that way when my tire was flat the other day. So, I can well imagine that this young girl wasn't even thinking.

    BUT, I still don't understand how you could just drive away and do NOTHING. These are humans, for God's sake.
     
  20. OkieGranny

    OkieGranny New Member Staff Member Forum Coordinators

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    From November 2010:

    http://tbo.com/northeast-tampa/jennifer-porter-completes-probation-in-fatal-hit-and-run-18562

     

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