By Joe Orlando, PIO
Judy Utter remembers March 16th, 1990 like it was yesterday. That was the last day she ever saw her daughter, she told inmates at Mule Creek State Prison.
“To this day those memories of that night still haunt me,” said Utter. That was the night Utters daughter Jennifer and her boyfriend Jeffrey went to a party in Sacramento county. The two had just turned eighteen. Leaving the party Jeffrey was driving 75 mph in a 35 mph speed zone, sideswiped a vehicle, and ran into a utility pole. Jennifer was killed on impact.
Jeffrey was thrown from the vehicle, suffered some abrasions, but no broken bones. He was later charged with a DUI, given a ninety day suspended sentence, five hundred hours of community service, and 5 years probation.
Judy Utter, a Senior Victim Advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, tells the gathering of inmates in the chapel at Mule Creek State Prison this story as a reminder of the victims they have left behind, and how more than one person is affected by their actions.
This is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Utter says she’s still haunted by the visit that night by the coroner’s office. “He handed me the license and said are you Jennifer’s mother? There’s been a terrible accident. Your daughter didn’t make it.”
One of the inmates told Utter, “This really touched me, we do have to apologize to victims, in prison I have learned to help people, it’s a pleasure to have you here.” Others echoed the same thought.
Misty Foster’s brother David was murdered in Long Beach in March of 1991. His murder is still unsolved.
She belongs to the Sacramento Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. She told the inmates “if you want answers, go to the victims, a lot of the time you don’t see the damage you’ve done. They beat him up and shot my brother in the head, how can anyone do that.”
One inmate told Foster, “Thanks for allowing us to pay some interest on the debt we paid, every week we meet and address our victims.”
Another inmate said, “A lot of time our experience is not your experience, this is what it’s about, this is how change starts.”