My family experienced the reason why victims feel they don’t have a voice. I was so frustrated and angry because we were already at a disadvantage when it came to the death penalty. The Supreme Court’s decision in 2017 requiring a unanimous verdict was a major challenge for our case.
When trial started we were instructed that no one was permitted to wear anything law enforcement related in the courtroom. We weren’t allowed to even wear a bracelet with Charlie’s name on it.
The defendant was given the opportunity to apologize to us when he changed his plea to guilty months before trial. So, during trial he was given a SECOND opportunity to apologize to us in front of the jury this time.
The defendant was given the opportunity to have his friends and family testify to show how much they loved him and how he deserved to live life in prison instead of being sentenced to death.
The defendant was given the opportunity to show photos of his family and even made a VIDEO to his children saying goodbye with lots of tears.
But as far as us, the victims, we weren’t given ANY of those opportunities. Actually we were told we could read our victim impact statement in front of the jury BUT only after the defense was allowed to take out anything they decided that the jury shouldn’t hear. I refused to lessen my pain and trauma for anyone, especially the defendant. I WANTED to read every single word I wrote over the past three years, even if it meant only he would hear it. So, I did.
There was an error on the verdict form so we were told the defendant would be sentenced to death initially. For those few minutes, we felt CLOSURE for once. That didn’t last long though. The jurors were asked to leave the courtroom to correct the form. When they came back, he was sentenced to life. Just like he wanted. He got to live, even if it was in prison.
Our voices weren’t heard and we didn’t get to show photos of Charlie until the trial was OVER. The jury never heard a word we said and that was SO unfair.
Later, I saw photos of the defense online proudly celebrating their “victory” at a restaurant after the trial was over. As for us, we felt like Charlie was killed again. We were victimized ALL OVER again and it was heartbreaking.
Victim Impact Statement written by Teresa Kondek, March 23, 2018
I've waited a long time for today. I want you to know what you've done to my family.
On December 21, 2014 just four days before Christmas, while you were being escorted to a cell with clean clothes, food, and a place to sleep, officers were knocking on my door. I looked outside and all I could see were police lights. I tried calling Charlie to tell him what was happening but he never answered. I opened the door and saw a Tarpon Springs uniform and just froze. By that time, my kids were gathered by the door asking what happened. My youngest daughter and I were escorted to a hospital and just praying, crying, and begging God to please let him be okay. When I got to the hospital, there were officers everywhere. I didn't want to go in because I knew Charlie was gone. I was brought into a small room where a few people were waiting for me but within seconds I was told Charlie was dead. I heard my daughter crying and screaming for her father but I couldn’t help her. I couldn't think. I felt completely numb. I just remember feeling like air was too hard to breathe. I wanted my husband back. I wanted to hear that the person who shot him was dead too. But here you are…you get LIFE.
I don’t remember the rest of that day or the weeks that followed. I just watched my life fall apart day by day. I didn’t want to eat or get out of bed. I didn’t want to see my kids cry anymore and I was TIRED of feeling empty. I just wanted Charlie to come home.
YOU ARE the reason we are all here today. YOU killed my husband. YOU are the reason I'm a widow. You have NO idea what you took from me. Charlie and I still got excited when we had the same days off. You killed the man who wrote letters to me, woke me up every day and always planned our date nights. I have boxes of letters and cards from him.
After he proposed to me, he wrote a letter thanking me for saying yes and said he couldn’t wait to start our new life. The badge around my neck has his handwriting lasered on the back with words from that letter.Charlie was so thankful for everything in life; unlike you. He always told me that I changed his life but the truth is…he changed mine. I hate this new life without him. I don’t enjoy things anymore and I no longer have plans. I can’t sleep at night because my life is filled with anxiety and grief and it is a living nightmare. I’m never in the right place without him here. I don’t function the way I did before and everything that mattered to me before means nothing now because he’s gone. My husband is GONE!! Do you know how long it took for me to say that out loud??
I’ve lost my place in life. I'm forced to get up every day and live a life I don't WANT because of you. I wasn’t supposed to bury my husband. I wasn’t supposed to say goodbye to him in a coffin. I wasn’t supposed to be a widow at 43 but you shoved me into this lifetime of grief and I will never be the same person.
I have the last shirt Charlie wore in a bag so I can smell him when I miss him. I’m terrified that one day I won’t remember what his hands looked like or the sound of his voice.
Shooting him wasn’t violent enough so you backed over him, drove over him and LEFT him in the street to die. I live everyday wondering how long he felt pain or how long he knew he would never see us again. I wonder if he felt the bullet that killed him or how long he struggled to breathe. You murdered him and NEVER looked back.
Charlie is missing EVERYTHING. He didn't see Brandon and Aleena graduate high school or teach them how to drive. He didn’t see Charlie’s award ceremony at work. He didn't see Holly and Andrew finish college. He won’t pin Andrew’s badge on him when he’s sworn in as an officer. He didn’t walk Holly down the aisle on her wedding day. She had to wrap a photo of her father around the flowers she carried and I sat next to an empty chair with Charlie’s uniform on it.
You killed a proud father who cried when his children were born. A father who sat with his children when they were sick and hugged them when they were scared. A father who sat in a school parking lot all day on their first day of school because he promised them he wouldn't leave them while they were scared. THAT’S a father. You killed my husband who LOVED being a daddy. The kids sitting behind me are the ONLY pieces of Charlie I have left.
Charlie and I worked different schedules so one of us were always with our kids. He taught our boys how to work hard and be honest and he was their first best friend. He taught our girls how they should be respected and he was the first man my girls loved. Now that my kids are young adults, Charlie isn’t here to see them doing all the things he taught them. One is a nurse, one will soon be an officer, one works in healthcare, one is in college studying cyber security, and one will be in med school before she’s 21. Charlie is missing ALL of this because of YOU. You chose to leave your kids, he DIDN’T.
Our kids are not the same. I watch them kneel in the grass at a cemetery and choke back tears when they tell their father how much they miss him and how sorry they are that this happened to him. His babies apologize for what YOU did to him!
Charlie was an officer for 23 years. He LOVED his job and treated people with respect. His community loved him, just as his law enforcement family did. Charlie was supposed to retire THIS month. He wanted to travel and enjoy the retirement he worked SO hard for but you took that life from us. Instead of celebrating his retirement this month, I’m sitting in a MURDER trial.
It’s ironic how a human life meant nothing to you until YOU had to plead for your OWN life. It takes a WEAK COWARD to ask for life in prison after you’ve violently taken life from someone else. Charlie didn’t get the chance to plead for his life so how DARE you ask for life after you took his.
You shouldn’t be alive; even if it’s in prison. You don't deserve the right to talk to anyone, write anyone, or have visits with your family. You took ALL of those things from me. You took it from my KIDS.
Now you’re claiming brain damage? That was NEVER a factor in your life until your life depended on it. I don’t care about your childhood either. Two of my children were born with FAR more challenges than you’ve claimed to have the past 6 days. They’ve played sports and had staples, stitches, broken bones, concussions and NEVER once did they grow up and fire 7 rounds at an officer.
I speak for Charlie now. You had plenty of chances to change your life but you chose to waste it. You had family, you were given places to go for help, free food, shelter, and help finding a job. You didn’t want it. You KNEW right from wrong. You intended to kill someone that night and you DID. Charlie sacrificed his life enforcing laws that you REFUSED to follow over and over.
It’s a shame the choices you’ve made will hurt your children too. You will never see them on Christmas morning or birthdays, and you’ll never be there when they are hurt or afraid. But then again, you were never there for them anyway. You had a chance to turn your life around for yourself AND your children but you didn’t. Charlie didn’t get to make a video to say goodbye to his family like you did.
I don’t care that you changed your plea to guilty. You should’ve been honest from the beginning if you felt ANY kind of remorse.
I know I’m supposed to forgive you, but I can’t do that. This wasn’t an accident. You could’ve turned yourself in. You had a choice which is why your apology meant nothing. You’re a liar and you haven’t shown ANY remorse for killing my husband. I’ve watched you every day during this trial and the ONLY time you cried is when you heard your mother speak and when you heard the video to your children…not when you saw photos of my dead husband, not when you saw the video of my husband struggling to breathe, NOTHING. You’re not ashamed, you’re just afraid to die.
I refuse to hate you because I can’t give you any more of my life than you’ve already taken. Hating you would be a burden for me to carry, and I WILL NOT allow myself to do that. I know I’m supposed to pray for you but praying for someone like you is a struggle for me and I just can’t do it.
I wanted the death penalty for you, but either way your time in hell is coming. Until then, you are just a burden for tax payers until you die. When this trial is over and everyone goes home and back to their lives, we still won’t have Charlie so your death is the only closure for us, no matter how long it takes. While you are getting old in a cell and the months turn into years, we will move forward in life and continue to honor Charlie.
I hope prison hurts. I hope God makes you feel every single ounce of pain you've caused us but I really want you to remember this….you killed a man who believed in God and I promise you, you WILL pay for that.