This past Wednesday, a hearing was scheduled at the Malibu Courthouse for Stephanie Segal, the driver accused of killing popular cyclist Jim Laing in a drunken hit-and-run in Agoura Hills last October.
I had planned to attend until last minute obligations kept away. However, I just received an email from Peggy Krause, older sister of Jim Laing, who filled me in on everything I missed; she graciously agreed to let me share her thoughts with you.
Hi Ted – Hope you remember me. I am Jim Laing’s sister, Peggy Krause.
I was waiting for the hearing for Ms. Segal to take place in order to write you and that time has come. Yesterday, September 7th, was Stephanie Segal’s final Pretrial hearing before Judge Lawrence Mira in Malibu Courthouse. Thanks for keeping tabs on the status of her case in your last few newsletters. Although there were no cyclists in jerseys present at the hearing, our family is grateful for your support.
The reason for this hearing was primarily for Victim Impact Statements. My whole family wrote Victim Impact Statements and sent them to Judge Mira and we were each provided ample time to present them verbally in court to the Judge. My mother went first. I accompanied her to the podium where we were to deliver our statements, as she was too distraught to stand on her own. Stephanie Segal was, in fact, present at the hearing, with her attorney… Only a few feet away from us. My Mom started her statement with … “I loved my son from the day he was born” and wept through her entire speech, ending with a statement to Ms. Segal to the effect that she hoped someday she could do something good in her life by helping others to avoid another tragedy such as this. It was heartbreaking and the entire courtroom was visibly moved, including Judge Mira and his clerk.
Afterward, there was at least 30-45 min. of negotiations at the Judge’s bench between the Senior D.A., Ms. Segal’s attorney, and Lulu’s private (civil) attorney…heated discussions and audible objections from Lulu herself directly to the Judge. It seemed like an eternity. Counsel were so far apart on the length of time for Ms. Segal’s incarceration and Ms. Segal’s offer was vehemently unacceptable to us. That being said, the Judge declared sentencing would be postponed until October 27, 2011 at 10:00 am. By the way, Ms. Segal has NEVER changed her plea of “Not Guilty”.
Afterward, the D.A. and an independent counsel who was there in the courtroom approached our family on the courthouse steps stating that it had been a very long time since they had seen a family so gracious and dignified towards a defendant who had taken a family member’s life. They assured us that it had a profound effect on the Judge’s decision that day versus if no family had been present or made statements in court. It was an unexpectedly good feeling of relief in that justice actually may be served in this case. It was without a doubt the best thing we could have done for Jim.
I attached my Impact Statement in lieu of a statement right after Jim’s death. This case is not only about Jim, but about ALL cyclists… That this type of behavior CANNOT be tolerated. There must be a precedence set for this type of crime. As my statement sets forth, I personally will NEVER feel the same when I ride now … Always looking over my shoulder with trepidation and an abundance of caution in my heart that frankly was never there before.
I also attached a recent picture of our family: Jim’s in the center I’m in yellow shirt on Jim’s left. Thank you again, Ted. You have been invaluable to our family and to the cause of all cyclists out there.
Here’s is the Victim Impact Statement that Peggy Krause submitted to the court (click to enlarge). I hope you find it as moving as I do.