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Bennett's sister: Trappler is 'heartless ... emotionally void'
WATKINS GLEN, July 26 --The following statement was read by Alecia Bennett, the sister of murder victim Daniel Bennett, in Schuyler County Court Thursday prior to the sentencing of Alice Trappler in connection with Daniel's April 2012 murder.
Trappler was found guilty on May 8 by a jury on charges of 2nd Degree Murder, Burglary and Conspiracy in Bennett's shotgun slaying -- the result, authorities said, of an ongoing custody battle between Trappler and Daniel Bennett over their infant daughter, Lily.
Trappler's ex-husband, Thomas Wesley Borden, is alleged to have shot Bennett, committing the crime at the urging of Trappler. Borden later died when he jumped in front of a moving train while being pursued by police in Jenkintown, Pa., north of Philadelphia.
Alecia Bennett occasionally sobbed as she read her statement. She was comforted by two friends and her fiance while standing at a lectern, speaking into a microphone and facing the court bench.
"My name is Alecia Bennett. Daniel Bennett has been my little brother since November 9th, 1981. I have no recollection of the 14 months of my life before he was born. To me, up until my mother called me in the wee hours of April 20th, 2012 to tell me my brother had been shot and killed, Daniel was always very much alive in my world.
"I’ve been struggling for over a year about what to say here today. Many factors were involved as I wrote and rewrote, the biggest one being my beautiful niece (Lily). Throughout the rest of her life she is going to suffer a great deal because of the way her father was taken from her, and her mother being responsible for it. Another is fear, for myself and my family. Will this be used against us as we continue Dan’s battle in Family Court? Will the defendant manipulate someone else to come after us as well? For my family that fear is very real, those questions always in the back of our minds.
"I have tried to find the words to tell you how Dan’s murder has impacted my family, but there are no adequate words to describe the pain, anguish and despair we all feel. I lay awake many nights thinking about Dan and the events of the last 15 months. Sometimes I’m angry, sometimes I’m sorrowful and sometimes it makes me smile to remember him. But there is always one common denominator. It is always painful. There is no way one can prepare oneself for something like this. Most believe it could never happen to them. I was one of those people until the defendant murdered my brother.
"My brother was not a perfect person and he never claimed to be, but you always knew where he stood, what he believed was right. Dan was the guy who would loudly tell you how stupid what you just did was, but never how stupid you were. Not a single person that knew Dan wondered how he felt about them; he would always tell them. Dan believed in helping people, rooting for the underdog and drinking from mason jars. He was a simple man living a simple life. Dan was a great person and there will forever be a Dan-sized hole in all our hearts.
"His beautiful daughter will never experience all the wonderful things about her father. She will never have the sense of security and protection that only a daddy can give. Her life will always have that major part of her missing, void forever. The defendant went to extremes to make sure Dan never laid eyes on his daughter, never got to hear her coo, see her giggle. She had him killed to prevent him ever bonding with his baby. She robbed both him and his daughter of a loving relationship. He never got the chance to see any of her firsts -- first word, first steps, first day of school, first date, first dance. He will miss everything, every milestone of her life. He will never see her graduate, go to college, marry, or meet his grandchildren.
"When Dan was murdered we lost a loving father, son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend who was greatly loved. Dan’s murder took everything from us, our security, our innocence, our rest, our peace. We have lost faith and trust in people. We have trouble finding joy in the simple pleasures of life. Being happy just doesn’t seem right anymore. We have sleepless nights, nightmares and night terrors. We struggle each day to find reason. Sometimes the feeling of despair becomes so overwhelming, so oppressive that it literally takes our breath away. We never know what sound or sight is going to trigger in our mind a memory. And though the memories are sweet, with them comes the realization that he is gone, and that realization that hits our hearts is devastating. None of us want to be sad when we think of Dan, but right now it’s hard to get the images of what the defendant did to him out of our minds. Those horrific images are forever ingrained. We all hope that in time we are able to remember all the good times with him without having to blink those images away first.
"The defense accused my brother of horrible, unthinkable things, starting with their opening statement -- claiming threats, calling him a monster or a dangerous man. Where was that evidence? There wasn’t any submitted, because, well, frankly, there isn’t any! He was not a monster or a dangerous man. The evidence only depicted one monster in this courtroom: the defendant.
"Words cannot express the pain and anguish our family and friends have endured since Dan was taken from us. The defendant’s decision to orchestrate taking the life of another human being with no regard for the effects it will surely have on others is unimaginable and unforgivable. The loss of someone you love is always extremely difficult, but when that life is stolen, you are constantly asking questions, whys and what ifs. You never get over it, you just try to learn to live again. There will be no more birthday parties, bonfires, holiday celebrations or other family events to share with him. The laughter, hugs, advice, sense of security and those opportunities to say I’m sorry or I love you are gone forever. Our family is forever broken.
"I stand before you today a broken person who has lost all sense of normalcy. A person who grieves the loss of my brother, not only for myself, my niece, my family and his friends, but for the world that has no idea what a wonderful man they are missing.
"Respectfully, Your Honor, 25 years is not long enough. Compassion is a word commonly used for and by defendants. However, I ask how much compassion the defendant considered when the decision was made to murder my brother? She didn’t even consider her own daughter -- the trials, tribulations, confusion and hardships that this innocent child will undoubtedly endure. I ask what mother would purposely cause her child pain -- not one that deserves the right to be called a parent. She sat in this courtroom unmoved by the gruesome pictures that the rest of the courtroom cried and turned away from. Defense’s explanation for this was that she had seen them so many times that she had grown numb. What kind of human being could ever grow numb to those horrific pictures, especially when they're of someone they at one time claimed to love and had a child with?
"I suggest only a heartless, evil, emotionally void, hateful individual is capable of such cruelness. Did she ever show an ounce of remorse? None that anyone in this courtroom ever saw. She has intimidated and manipulated countless people before and obviously believes that she is above or smarter than the law. She gave Dan a death sentence. Unfortunately there are laws that protect her life, and because of this she is not eligible for a death penalty but instead becomes someone else’s problem.
"In closing, Your Honor, I implore you to impose the maximum sentence allowed by law for each charge the jury unanimously found her guilty of. Alice Trappler is a murderer, a coward who stole not only the life of Dan but the peace, stability, sanity and ability to sleep at night from an entire family and community. The defendant’s demeanor in court proved she had no remorse for what she did, which says to me that if given the opportunity to, she would be inclined to do it again. Please do not allow her the opportunity to ruin another family and cause more pain. Our family has to spend the rest of our lives with the reality that Dan is gone. Let her spend the rest of hers in prison watching over her shoulder every day, wondering if it could be her last.
"On behalf of the family and friends of Daniel Bennett, I wish to express my sincere gratitude for allowing this opportunity of expression.
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(All court stories by Charlie Haeffner)
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