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November 16, 2009

When a mother's love is blind

I'm inclined to have sympathy for a certain group of women. These are mothers whose children have committed terrible crimes. Can you imagine what hell such a woman must live in? The child, whom she gave birth to with such hope for his future, turns out to be creep, a monster. This is the boy she saw utter his first words, take his first steps. He may have been sweet and loving in many areas of his life--with her and at home.

But then he grows up, into a teenager or a young man. And he does something terrible. He causes another person terrible suffering, as well as to that person's friends and family. He gets caught, tried, convicted. Maybe he has to go to prison for a long time, maybe the rest of his life. Maybe he receives the death sentence.

The mother of this once promising child loses her promise, her hope. She loses her baby. The grief must be terrible. Add to that the shame and judgment from her community and the criminal justice system. Even though we're supposedly more enlightened about such matters in psychology and child development, we still can't help but wonder whether the mother is to blame when her child turns out to be a creep. She wasn't loving enough. Or she didn't discipline him enough, and she spoiled him. Or she's a sociopath herself. And so on. The rest of this woman's life is lonely, full of grief, and despair.

So, I am inclined to have sympathy for these women. To an extent.

Then there are mothers of men who do horrible things who continue to live in denial, and insist their darlings are innocent. Jackie Peterson comes to mind. She's the mother of Scott Peterson, convicted of killing his wife, Laci, and unborn son. She and other family members have set up a website, insisting that Scott was innocent and wrongfully convicted.

I can think of a few other mothers of recent high-profile murder defendants who continue to insist that their sons have been misjudged and unfairly treated by the system. Their loyalty is somewhat understandable, but I lose sympathy when I hear them blaming everyone else for their son's "misfortunes." And, when you begin to suspect that these women are more interested in protecting their own fragile reputations than in helping their sons "man up" and take responsibility for their crimes and apologize to the families of their victims.

Now we have Charlotte Martin, the mother of Curtis Martin III, 38 of West Oakland. He has been arrested in the killing of 23-year-old Zoelina Williams, whose body was found at Berkeley's Aquatic Park Friday. She had been beaten and shot. And her 17-month-old son, Jashon Williams, was missing.

The body of a toddler was pulled from the waters off the Berkeley Marina Sunday. Although he is still officially "Baby Doe," pending the autopsy, authorities believe he is probably Jashon Williams.

A police officer spotted Curtis Martin walking in Aquatic Park early Friday morning. Ten minutes later, that officer found Zoelina Williams' body. It also turns out that Martin was a convicted child killer. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, he "pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the 1994 fatal beating of 3-year-old Devin Brewer of Oakland, the son of his then-girlfriend.

It's unclear whether Curtis Martin and Zoelina Williams were romantically involved or whether she knew of Martin's past conviction. Martin's mother must have known of his past conviction. You'd think, right?

So, why is his mother, Charlotte Martin, understandably devastated by news of her son's latest arrest, telling the the Chronicle: "I don't believe he would hurt a baby." She also asserted that "some things being said about him are not true or have been embellished."

To be fair, she told the Chronicle that she was reserving judgment about the case until she spoke to her son. Also, I'm sure there are things being said about him that have been embellished. That's often the case. Still, to say he would never hurt a baby?

Ms. Martin, with all due respect, he went to prison for just such a crime. Speaking of that crime, why did Curtis Marin only serve 11 years for fatally beating a 3-year-old?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

This man's mother needs to get a clue.

As for his short prison sentence for the earlier child murder, it sounds horrifying as hell, but I get the impression it was a plea deal and that without that, he may have served no prison time at all - is that correct?

Whoever's guilty of the two recent murders, one can only hope for a stiffer sentence for the guilty party. Horrible to kill anyone, but to kill a child seems all the more so.

Anonymous said...

As a Psychology major, I learned that people don't suddenly turn into murderers. Parents often are paranoid that their kids would suddenly become so called "psycho" killers overnight. That is not the case. Looking back at the lives of murderers, you can trace back the causes of the murderous tendencies. It all goes back to childhood and quite often there is severe abuse and trauma. All of these abuses built up and eventually led to these people turning into murderers.

If you raise your kids well, they will turn out to be alright. Murderers are rare, but what it took to make them murderers is a long process that could have been prevented at many points. There are mental illnesses that might make people more likely to commit crimes, but with treatment and support they can manage their illnesses and not be a danger to anyone.

Parents are often in denial of the crimes of their children. In some cases, the parents themselves might have been responsible for some of this. The parents may have been abusive and in order to cover up the abuse they would claim that their child was a perfect child that never did anything bad. The ability of people to deny anything will shock anyone. The parents may also have been very neglectful and denied that they were a neglectful when they were raising their kids.

Anonymous said...

I say we, outsiders, shouldn't be quick to judge. Most people don't want to talk to the media about personal issues; (deplore the media's fascination with/exploitation of misery) and comment quickly and without thinking just to get reporters to leave them alone.

We can feel for the child, the woman, and all of the families involved, of the victims and of the suspect. We can also be anguished by the criminal justice system with it's many chances to free criminals who aren't, and in many ways can't be rehabilitated.

Anonymous said...

Here is an excerpt from the CC Times.

Martin has a criminal record dating back to the early 1990s. In 1994, he was arrested in the beating death of 3-year-old Devin Brewer of Oakland, the son of his girlfriend at the time. He served six years in prison for the crime. In 2008, he was arrested for violating a court order to prevent domestic violence. He was never prosecuted.

He only served a little over half of his 11-year-sentence for his first murder. Then he was busted again for domestic violence.

I don't give a rat's ass about the man's mother. I only care that he's out killing people, and because it seems he likes to kill children.

Maybe they'll put him away this time. I feel terribly for the family. From what I could gather from the newspaper article, they seem like they're decent, caring people.

Anonymous said...

Natural selection. Just put him with general population and be sure they know he's a 2x child killer. Seriously. Case over.

Anonymous said...

In reading about a mother who needs to get a clue, I'm reminded of the mother of Scott Dyleski who killed the lawyer's wife. She kept saying her son was innocent even though she testified against him. Reading about his life you wonder what she had to do with his turning out the way he did. I always felt kind of sorry for him. I know I shouldn't.

Anonymous said...

George W. Bush is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, Americans too.

His mother, the most despicable Barbara Bush probably still loves him. (He tried to keep the uppity blacks out of Houston, and off the welfare rolls, so she said in her Marie Antoinette moment)

But she is our country's nastiest piece of work. If she is a Mother, Hitler is a father.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget your son shares your husband's DNA.... how about an article on women married to criminals?

Soccer Mom said...

Dear 7:32 a.m.
Your article suggestion? Been there, done that, as I'm sure you are aware. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Actually I am not aware of the article you did on being married to a criminal, just taken aback by your rather judgmental position on family dynamics.

In my opinion the best post here is by the person with a major in psychology. Kids don't suddenly become killers overnight. I found the original blog post doing a google search on Scott Dyleski, who had no history of violence, ever. To the person who commented on Scott Dyleski-- I know Scott and his mother. He was raised with much love, and never fit the profile of a killer in the making. He was convicted anyway, which was/is a real travesty. Scott is innocent, but it is a complicated case.

Don't expect Soccer Mom to write much about that one, she doesn't have the guts.

Anonymous said...

"I am not aware of the article you did on being married to a criminal"

So what that SM's husband went to jail for stealing, that's his problem, not hers.

"Scott is innocent, but it is a complicated case."

Oh, really? Care to elaborate? Or maybe you're too blind due to your friendship with the mother. Hmm, I wonder what it could be. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Following up on 3:48--to the writer who friends with Dyleski's mom andthinks he's innocent and the psychology major wrote the best comment, the psychology major also wrote:

"Parents are often in denial of the crimes of their children. In some cases, the parents themselves might have been responsible for some of this. The parents may have been abusive and in order to cover up the abuse they would claim that their child was a perfect child that never did anything bad. The ability of people to deny anything will shock anyone. The parents may also have been very neglectful and denied that they were a neglectful when they were raising their kids."

Anonymous said...

his mama was craz, only a crazy person would say those things she said.

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It can't really have effect, I believe this way.