On May 13, 2019, I was flooded with tears of happiness as my husband’s namesake, Kent’s Bet, a beautiful bay thoroughbred, crossed the finish line first at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Oklahoma. That moment was the first time in several years that I had genuine happiness in my heart and felt as though it was okay to finally celebrate an anniversary that usually causes tremendous sadness and incomprehensible feelings of loss – our wedding anniversary. I couldn’t help but feel that this victory was a gift from Kent, and I knew for the first time in a very long time that he was sending me a clear message of love from the great beyond.
This year, my heartbreak and grief are at an all-time high. I am flooded with emotions I cannot even begin to describe and the tears flow freely at any given moment. As much as I am trying to focus on my husband’s smile, his infectious laugh, and the many good times we shared, there is a giant cloud casting a dark, ominous shadow over everything and I cannot help but feel incredible devastation and depression because of it. If you read my previous blog post entitled “Poor Decisions,” you know what I am referring to. The dark cloud raining on everything is the injustice happening with Kent’s case.
It’s unfathomable to me that the Board of Corrections in Adams County, Colorado, would release Kent’s killer to a half-way house when he has not even served 2 and a half years of the 10-year sentence he was given. What I find truly puzzling is the fact that in February, a hearing on this same matter was heard by the Community Corrections Board in Denver and the vote was unanimous to keep the killer of Kent Swanson in prison. Why was the perpetrator allowed to have a second hearing in a different venue? Why Adams County? And why was their vote so dramatically different?
It’s a sad state of affairs when a Community Corrections Board cares more about a budget, overcrowding, or Covid-19 concerns. Whatever happened to justice and holding a criminal accountable for their actions?
This ruling has minimized a horrendous crime. The first responders on the scene, the accident investigators, the District Attorney’s office, and the judge that presided over the case have had their hard work, time, and dedication to the case thrown in their faces and devalued, and it’s an absolute shame considering how hard these people work to serve the community and provide justice.
It’s incomprehensible to have a Board of Corrections send the message – and set a dangerous precedent for future cases – that driving impaired and killing someone is a crime to be minimalized and perpetrators will not serve their full prison sentences because of leniency in Adams County. Do the crime and you won’t serve the time.
If it was your loved one killed in this horrendous, egregious manner and other people were trying to sell you that this is justice, would you buy it? I’m not, and neither is our family or friends.
I learned that the Community Corrections Board of Adams County is appointed by the County Commissioners, so I have written to all of the Adams County Commissioners. I also reached out to local news media outlets to express my thoughts on this matter. I have yet to receive a single response. Not one. Actions and silence truly speak louder than words sometimes; this message is deafening.
It’s hard to accept that there are things in this world I cannot control or change. It’s hard to accept that some people find this matter to be trivial and truly don’t care, not even elected officials that are supposed to represent people like you and I. It’s even harder to accept that I will never hear my husband’s voice again and that I am sentenced to life without him. And now it’s our wedding anniversary, and I am forced to accept that we have been robbed of the gift of justice.
I am trying to focus on the positive things in my life – my family, my friends, my dogs, my cats, and my beautiful horses. I am truly blessed and grateful to be surrounded by such loving, beautiful beings. It is my hope that I will find a way to accept and live peacefully with the injustice of this situation since it is something I cannot control or change. So far, it’s not proving to be an easy endeavor. It’s frustrating to cry out in anguish and have no one hear it.
I am doing my best to hold on to the many wonderful memories of my marriage and the beautiful person that Kent was. Every time Kent’s Bet steps onto the racetrack, I am reminded that Kent and his legacy lives on. I see Kent’s amazing spirit and determination in every stride that his namesake takes. He may not be perfect or win every race, but he truly tries and he has tremendous heart. Kent’s Bet has given me a sense of hope that there is still some good in the world and there are some beings that hear us.
I am also pleased to announce that Kent has a second namesake – a yearling colt affectionately named “Chaotic Kent,” also known as CK. I find it fitting considering the crazy state of our world right now and the unbelievable events surrounding Kent’s case. And, quite frankly, the little guy reminds me of Kent. He is handsome, smart, and likes to cause a little trouble in the name of fun! I cannot help but smile and feel joy in my heart when he is bucking and playing in his paddock or when he drops his head in my hands and insists that I scratch the top of his head and behind his ears. CK may well be the one thing that has kept me from drowning in a sea of anger and despair over the injustice of Kent’s case.
In my mind, Kent’s passing and the circumstances surrounding it have been trivialized and dismissed by Adams County officials – people we elect and pay to care – something I find completely unacceptable. May the injustice of Kent’s case and how poorly it has been handled never be forgotten. It’s an injustice that deserves to be remembered and acknowledged.
I have been told that special dates without your loved one get easier with time. Sadly, this is not one of them. This is by far the hardest Wedding Anniversary yet.
Happy Anniversary, Kent. Your legacy lives on. I will love you always.