Victim’s Impact Statement
The following passage as written by Tracy Stephens and entered into court documents. It was obtained from the Perry County Courthouse, has not been edited out and is in its entirety.
First, I would like to thank the Court for giving me a chance to read this statement and to everyone who helped me in this investigation. I know it as in no way easy for any of them. I know it had impacts on both their jobs, and personal lives. Again thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done to bring justice to Sidnee, your efforts will never be forgotten.
I am Tracy Stephens, the mother of Sidnee Edith Cheyenne Stephens born on May 15, 1995 at 5:06 pm. Sidnee is and will always be my youngest child, because her life was abruptly cut short at the young age of just 15. In my eyes she will always be 15. When Sidnee was just a baby I would sing to her the song ‘You Are My Sunshine’, and if you know the song at all there is a line in it that says “please don’t take my sunshine away.”
That is just what happened to me, Sidnee’s brothers and sisters, my Dad, my brothers and sisters, my niece, nephew, my grandmas, to all of Sidnee’s friends and to an entire community. Our sunshine was taken away. Several times over the past 2 years I have written and rewrote this statement, but it never seems enough.
The rage, pain, sorrow, and grief are so hard to put into words. Sidnee was a good kid, one in a million; no one like her before, and never will be again. Sidnee was kind, loving, a determined, a free spirit of sorts some might say, most definitely outspoken when the situation at hand didn’t call for it.
On the night of July 18, 2010, never in my wildest dreams could I have ever believe it would be the last time I would ever, and I mean ever, see my daughter again or hear the words “night, love you too”. When I say ever that means forever. After her body was found no one in the family was even able to see her, making the closure part of the grief process almost impossible for me and I’m sure many others. No mother should ever have to bury their child and most definitely not under these circumstances. The death of my daughter has had an impact on my life in ways that no one will ever understand and should never have to understand because the pain is unbearable. On the day her life was taken so was mine. My kids are my life and now there is a huge void in my heart that can never be replaced. I thought I always knew my place in this world by being a mother that worked hard for everything she had, to show my kids that to get anywhere in life you have to do your best to get there. Now wheres my place? I have lost so much of myself since Sidnee has been gone. I was fired from my job at the Manor at Mason Woods, because of too many personal issues and too much negative attention in the media. I loved my job and the elderly people I had taken care of for over 6.5 years. Sidnee would sometimes go to work with me. Since this I have tried to find another job but when I get called for an interview all they want to talk about is Sidnee and her murder. For several months I was unable to live in our home for many reasons. When I finally was able to go back to the house it was just another disaster. There had been a water leak that did over $15,000.00 in damage to our home most of which included Sidnee’s room. I had to throw out and burn her bed and some of her personal items because of the water damage. I often catch myself standing at the top of my staircase looking down at the door, just waiting for her to come running in saying “Mom I know I’m late but...” She would always have an excuse if she was late. And if for just one more time I could hear her say this I wouldn’t care what the excuse would be I would just hold her and never let her go. She would tell me she was really mad at me, that she hated me. I would just calmly say back to her “that’s ok because it means I’m doing something right but I still love you.” I think of the things she will never get to experience in her life, her hopes and dreams. She couldn’t wait to turn 16. It had been planned for years that Sidnee and one of her best friends would have their 16th birthday party together just as they had done for their 13th birthdays. But it didn’t turn out as planned. Sidnee’s 16th birthday party was held in a cemetery and her friends just couldn’t get into the happy excited birthday mood that she should have been in for turning 16. It just wasn’t the same, nothing is the same. “We are supposed to do it together” Sidnee’s friend would tell her mom. I know that the parents of these boys also had hopes and dreams for their children, but they threw that away all in one night. A night that will never be erased and has forever changed the lives of so many. She always talked about when she turned 18 getting out of this town and going to L.A. She wanted to see the Hollywood sign. She also loved kids, especially babies and couldn’t wait to have a few of her own. That will never happen now. I will never get the grandchildren from Sidnee that I someday hoped for. I will never get to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day, yes I was to walk her own the ile, nontraditional I know but she made me pinky promise years ago and no matter how bad we would argue and get upset with each other she was still holding me to that promise. Because a pinky promise is a promise you never break no matter what. There is a bond between Sidnee and I that no one could ever break not through death. There are so many things about Sidnee that I miss and will never get back. Like her smile that would light up a room, her laugh, talking in that silly British accent, coming home for work to dinner already cooked, her teasing me about picking my corn and feeding my animals on Facebook games, her silly dancing around the house and just random things she would say to make me laugh. I could go on forever. I find it hard to even cook most of the time since Sidnee and I did a lot of cooking together. My birthday’s Sid would usually bake me chocolate chip cookies from her great grandma’s recipe or a cake from scratch, never out of a box. Never again will I have those cookies or cake because I can’t even bring myself to make them after over 2 years. Her friends still come to see me and I love that, but I just can’t help but wonder, what would she look like now? I see her friends driving with jobs and again I wonder where would she be working? And how many things would she have backed over with the car? I see them laughing, and see pictures of them smiling and having a good time, and I can almost put Sid in those pictures. But she’s not in those pictures where you can see her, she is in their hearts where she will always be. I still catch myself looking in crowds of people for Sid but she’s never there. Sid would have been a senior this year, the first class to graduate from the new school. But instead of her walking through those halls there is a brick with her name on it I bought so in years to come she still won’t be forgotten. There have been so many times that just driving in my car and listening to the radio I can’t see the road between the tears. So many shows on TV that I can’t watch because they were shows we would always watch. I go through stores and see things hanging and I think to myself “I’m going to get that for Sid she would like it.” Then I remember she’s not here and unless it can fit in a small vase on her headstone theres no point in buying it. I will never hear her voice again, or see the beautiful smile. The parents of all these boys at least have that, all I get is a stone in the ground to talk to. Now all I have are pictures and a head full of memories that no one can take from me. Mentally this has taken every ounce of energy I have and lots that I didn’t know I had. In January 2011 I had a nervous breakdown. I erased the last 6 to 7 months of my life. I had to learn Sid’s death all over again. Over time and with lots of counseling i began to remember everything. I now take antidepressants and anxiety medicine, probably for the rest of my life. I remember we buried Sid, the look on the pall bearers faces as they carried the casket with her body in it to her final resting place, and of 6 pall bearers the one I can remember the clearest is my son Zach. Sidnees’ older brother insisted on carrying her. The pain in his eyes as he carried his little sister was something no one can describe. No big brother should ever have to carry their baby sister in a casket. I often wonder when the sleepless nights are going to stop or if they ever will. I know my tears will never quit falling. Sid and I discussed death before, and she told me that when she died she wanted to be an organ donor, Sid liked to help others, but there was no chance for her to do that in this situation. I’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years. Learned more about the judicial system than I ever wanted to know. I’ve learned the hard way who your true friends are and the ones that are not. This had impacted me in so many ways, made relationships stronger and absolutely tore some apart that will never be fixed again.
I pray that the court today gives the highest possible sentence for this senseless crime and shows no mercy but after all no mercy was shown to Sidnee. But I just want the monsters that took my baby from me to wake up every day and hear my words from today and every time they look to the sky and feel the hot sun beating on their face to know its Sidnee and at night when the moon and stars are out that is her too, just a reminder of a very special person they took away. I know they are only getting years for their crimes but the way I see it Sidnee got a death sentence and I got a life sentence. I have found it very hard to put into words what the last years of my life has been like all the emotions, changes, just till have no idea what my future holds without my family being complete. After all I[‘m just “the murdered girls mom”. Thats how most people identify me now. I have been followed, harassed, screamed at, and had mine and Sidnees’ name drug through the mud by some of the family members of these boys. I have sat in these courtroom more days than I can even count and have watched these boys laugh, hug their parents and even show some tears. Don’t know what they are laughing for, I don’t find a bit of this funny. Hugs and kisses from their parents and siblings must be nice, I’ll never get that with Sid again. And then there are their tears. They are not tears for what they have done, but tears for being caught. Their tears mean nothing to me and the same goes for their families too, that have sat in this courtroom and have laughed at me, stared me down like I was some piece of trash. In my opinion they are all pathetic and in serious need of help. Not one time in over 2 years have I even gotten an “I’m sorry” from any but one family member out of all 3 boys. So I’m going to be the bigger person and say I’m sorry, I’m sorry your child is going to spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering my baby girl. On mothers day 2006 in school Sidnee had made me a book called My Life and in it is a poem she wrote for me. “Always, Mommy I love you dear Mommy I say please don’t shed a tear, I know you’d risk your life for me, I hope will forever be. I pray before I go to bed that we’ll be together when we’re dead. Sometimes you get mad, that makes me sad, but you would do anything for me. So all I have to say is Happy Mothers Day.