Jodi is a mother that lost her son Noah in a shooting accident in 2012. Noah’s friend, Levi, found a loaded handgun at his grandfather’s house. He took out the clip, pointed the gun at Noah, and killed him. He didn’t realize that there was a round in the chamber.
Levi was tried and convicted of Felony Reckless Homicide. This is the letter that Jodi read to the Judge at Levi’s sentencing hearing today, August 23, 2013. The letter is copied unaltered from Jodi’s posting on Facebook.
You can view the comments at https://www.facebook.com/teri.s.snyder/posts/10201880316957992. Jodi Sandoval's eloquent letter to the Court was read at Levi's sentencing today.
"Nearly 14 months ago, my beautiful son, Noah was killed. The world my surviving children and I lived with him was destroyed and the lives of everyone Noah loved and knew were impacted. Noah’s life & spirit are irreplaceable to us, his family. I am angry. I am outraged. I am confused. I am devastated beyond words and I am forever marked by an underlying sadness in each and everything I do, no matter what happiness I experience. I want to understand why my child is dead and I never will. A firearms only purpose is to kill with maximum efficiency.
In Ohio, there is currently no Child Access Prevention Law (CAP). According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Ohio is currently America’s capital for accidental child shootings and a 2000 study of firearm storage patterns in U.S. homes found that “[o]f the homes with children and firearms, 55% were reported to have 1 or more firearms in an unlocked place,” and 43% reported keeping guns without a trigger lock in an unlocked place. A 2005 study on adult firearm storage practices in U.S. homes found that over 1.69 million children and youth under age 18 are living in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms. Levi Reed lived in house with several loaded & unlocked guns, one of which was hidden behind a television in an unlocked bedroom and claimed the life of my son. Children are naturally curious.
Bill Simon told his grandchildren not to touch his guns. As the mother of 5, I can attest that simply telling children not to do something is ineffective. On July 5th, 2012, Levi made a terrible, horrible, tragic, fatal mistake with a deadly weapon that should have never been left accessible to ANY child. Why are no adults being persecuted for my child’s death? I can say, that if the shoe were on the other foot that there is NO WAY I would sit still while Noah was being thrown under the bus while I was continued to be allowed by the state to remain armed and irresponsible. No matter how much personal forgiveness I offer to William and Lisa Simon, it can never be erased that my bright, charming, sweet boy is dead because these adults failed to protect the children in their home.
So I say again: Why are there no adults being prosecuted for my child’s death?
It has been my opinion since the beginning of these criminal legal proceedings against Levi that we would all be better served through counseling and healing services rather than by harsh, criminal punishment of this boy. Rather than spend resources convicting and ultimately punishing a child with the price of adult negligence & endangerment, I urge the court to please find a solution to the problems of firearm violence and encourage firearm safety.
I urge you to act progressively and with deep consideration & reverence to the fact, that as we are gathered here today, more children have died and more will continue to die until we, as adults living in an increasingly dangerous & violent society, take responsibility and enact common sense measures, ones that could have potentially saved the life of our beloved Noah and spared my family & Noah’s friends & loved ones the condemnation of a lifetime sentence of pain and suffering.
Placing the blame for our collective failure as Americans on children is not going to solve any problems. It will prolong the amount of time it takes to fix them and in that time how many more children will die as a result? As long as there is no firearm CAP law protecting ALL children, everywhere, there are NO accidents. There are simply irresponsible, stubborn, cowardly adults unwilling to stand up against the gun lobby and those who support it. Magistrate Hudson, Noah was an amazing and forgiving human being. He loved his family and his friends. He loved Levi. Noah is dead; nothing that happens here today will bring him back. My family and I already suffer terribly and need closure to this chapter of our lives.
Levi Reed is 15 years old and must already live with a future filled with remorse and regret. Enough irreversible damage has been done without sentencing this boy to time in an already overburdened system while his adult caretakers remain unpunished. I am asking you to apply your wisdom to this case with mercy to Levi and to show him love, kindness & compassion through leniency. Thank You."
After careful consideration of the various inputs, the judge sentenced Levi to twelve months of probation. They could have incarcerated Levi until he was 21 years old. Levi will struggle with the consequences of that fateful day. Jodi has helped Levi heal faster.
As spiritualists, we recite the Golden Rule each Sunday as one of our nine basic principles. Jodi is a living example of the Golden Rule in action. Her compassion and forgiveness for a child that accidentally killed her son is a wonderful example of what unconditional love is all about. Thank you, Jodi, for showing the way forward from a horrific personal event.