The Foundation: 007

Choosing life

Last year, Jalen Ivy was shot. He was in his kitchen making tea when someone fired into his home. One round lodged in his spine, paralyzing him from the chest down.

This year, he and his family had a celebration-of-life party to mark the anniversary of his survival.

“We thought long and hard about it and decided we would not cry over the sadness of it all, but celebrate the life he still has,” his mother Judy said. “Jalen has said that he didn’t want to cry over the minute he was shot and paralyzed, but wanted to celebrate the next minute when he lived.”

I’m in the middle of reading this book by Father Gregory Boyle. It’s for a class on adolescent development and resilience. I’ve enjoyed it so far. It’s a quick read. He comes to this idea of “radical kinship" with a distinct Christian point of view, though you can read for lessons here outside religion.

Near seven years have passed since Ricky Pike was shot to death. He was 24, an aspiring chef who was sitting in a car with a friend when prosecutors say Arcadio Davila fired into the car. Davila was charged in 2013 and convicted in 2018.

Ricky’s mother, Maria, asked for leniency during Davila’s sentencing. The minimum the judge could sentence was 76 years and he sentenced Davila to 80.

“The wellspring from which that comes, the request for mercy, is one of the greatest nobility I can imagine,” Judge Nicholas Ford said from the bench. “It humbles me.”

Maria’s Statement
Printed here with permission
On August 3, 2012 your life and mine became inextricably tied through Ricky, to me the light of my heart, to you the one who would mistakenly pay for invading your territory and to avenge the shootings of 2 of your peers. Many nights, many years of sleepless nights I asked my God why? I am sure you could have even been friends with Ricky, he never lost a friend, he always gained them and kept them for the duration. Perhaps have your lives intercepted long before your path may have taken a different turn.

Ricky felt to me the way your mother probably feels about you, I thought many a night, if you could just admit it I would have fought for the worst mistake you made in your life, I could have advocated for you. I believe in the power of change and redemption, instead we spent 6 long years waiting, you in jail, me in my own private hell. My son was born at a time where his father and I did not think we were going to have children. He was my miracle, he taught me on the job how to be a mom, and that there are loves that are eternal, loves that forgive, loves that require no reciprocity, that is the love I have for him and likely the love your mom has for you. I don’t feel I won, I know we both lost, we both have lost the lives we had, you will go to jail, my jail is my grief, we both will serve our time. His father, His brother, his aunts and uncles, his friends, his cousins and all who loved him will never be the same. I will never be called grandma by his unborn children, your children will be raised by others. We lost. If I could turn back time I would have wanted to be the soundboard to the anger, the hate, the thirst for revenge, the despair, the disappointment that led you to this point. If I could turn back time I could have helped.

Ricky had friends he helped and he asked me to help sometimes, he could have helped you. You could have been friends for true friends do exist and that is who he was to all. My job as Ricky’s mom was to seek justice, nothing else, I don’t believe in revenge. I will never forget, but I have long forgiven you, I am an imperfect woman who must keep living and hate is too much a burden to bear at a time where there is so much to do for my son’s legacy. I don’t think you are a psychopath, Psychopaths must remain in jail for the rest of their lives. I think you are a product of your circumstances, I think you can find your path, you can find a purpose, you can find your God and I wish you find peace and love for we all deserve it. I know Ricky was pissed that you killed him, he had just gotten out from under my wings and was enjoying his new life as an independent man, but I know in my soul he has forgiven you too.

I wish that the criminal justice system had a way to provide restorative justice to the survivors. I wish they would let us decide what the punishment should be. What I want for you is to restore your life for the ones who love you, for your children, for their mothers, for your mom and ultimately for the community. I would want you to study, to learn a trade or a profession, to find your inner God, to become a productive member of society that can become a role model to your children once your time is served. And that your time be based on your achievements while incarcerated and to make it our decision, not the parole board Eric Saucedo, my lawyer/prosecutor I owe you many an apology for my moments of doubt and desperation, when I felt not enough was being done to get justice, when my frustration was so immense one day my voice just tightened and became a whisper of pain and hurt screaming from deep within to your stunned presence. You promised and delivered justice to my doorstep and I will be always grateful to you and your team for it.

Judge Ford I have watched you for almost 6 years for hours while I waited for a glimpse of the offender, whom I saw sometimes for a few seconds. I have witnessed your stoicism, sometimes frustration, your decision making and how constant you were in your duties, I would not be able to handle your job, a difficult job that requires so much of you as a performer of the law as it must be applied with the humanity and compassion you owe both winners and losers, victims and offenders. I am thankful and grateful for you will decide the fate of Arcadio Davila.

Judge Ford, I am asking for leniency in your decision for this son has a mother and this father has children, while he has a history of crime, he did not kill before. I have spent many, many nights thinking about What if he does it again? He will serve years in which he will be able to prove he is redeemable. I don’t believe this man is a psychopath, I believe he is an angry man in search of his place in society who can be restored through his own efforts. I believe the despair that we all share at this time can only be healed if we seek restoration through his future deeds while incarcerated, it is my believe that our society gains nothing by letting him die of old age in jail. Ricky, like his childhood friend wrote, was the Summer in our lives and he would have wanted restoration. I grieve for him and worry for the defendant and pray for the kind of restoration we can all live with. The day I see Ricky again I want him to be proud of his mom for he has been my reason to keep going all these years. I am Ricky’s voice. Be merciful.