The sentencing hearing for the man who shot my husband at a rest stop after Thanksgiving 2015 was held on October 26, 2017. I had the opportunity to read the following victim impact statement to the judge in the courtroom with the defendant, his attorney, the assistant district attorney, sheriff deputies and other people present.
My name is Terrie McKee. I am the wife of the victim. But that is not exactly true. Greg, myself, and our whole family were victims of the shooting on November 28, 2015 which left my husband paralyzed from the waist down.
It has been almost two years since a stop for a restroom break changed our lives forever. The defendant’s actions and choices that day have created undue hardship on us as a couple, our four children, and indeed our extended family and friends.
We were having a difficult time financially before the shooting; now, because of the paralysis, we are desperately struggling financially. Because of the paralysis, Greg’s bladder and bowels no longer function as they should, so he has to constantly wear incontinence pads and briefs to catch the leaking urine. These are not cheap. The catheters that are required for him to urinate because of the paralysis from the shooting are an added cost we did not have before. The maintenance on his wheelchair and the need he has for a standing frame – all of these are things he requires but we cannot afford. They are not covered by insurance.
His medications, and my medications for anxiety and depression are direct results of the shooting on November 28.
Your Honor, we live less than paycheck-to-paycheck and are nearly always within one month from losing everything. It was tight before – in fact, the only thing that was in Greg’s wallet the night of the shooting was his Aldi quarter – but now, finances are beyond tight.
While we are grateful to God for His provision, we have to make the conscious decision to either purchase the medical supplies he needs or do without some item of food, car repair, or clothing for our children. Although we are certainly thankful to our church family and community for renovating our home to accommodate Greg’s wheelchair; the fact is, because of our large family, we need a larger home. It’s not a want; it’s a need. Yet, because of medical bills, ongoing medical requirements, bulky medical equipment that takes up a ton of space, and the inability for Greg to make more money because of being paraplegic, we cannot afford a larger house. This is a constant source of emotional stress – to know you need something but cannot get it, because your husband was shot and paralyzed in a random crime event.
The shooting caused me, personally, to have PTSD very similar to a soldier who has fought in war. Car backfires, or someone dropping a box, the sight and sounds of an ambulance – all cause me to have severe panic attacks. The thought that a severe urinary tract infection or an infected pressure sore can take the life of my husband at any given time creates daily anxiety.
The choice the defendants made that night to shoot my husband has forever changed our family....I have a tremendously difficult time staying home by myself. Driving up I-85 and seeing the rest stop sign sends me into a full-on anxiety attack. I have had panic attacks so bad they have sent me to the hospital.
It is extraordinarily painful experiencing the love of my life cry out with searing nerve pain and being unable to do anything about it. Paraplegia requires that I help him shower, get dressed and undressed, and even assist him in moving his bowels. He is 45 years old – this is our life now, for as long as he lives, because he was shot by the defendant.
Greg’s career choices and ability to make more money to support his family, and his medical needs, have been diminished greatly and forever because of the inability to stand. Since I am also the caregiver for our autistic son and little girl who suffers with chronic migraines, I cannot work outside the home. Greg is the only breadwinner. The ADA and equal opportunity programs are great but one has to be physically able to do a job. He cannot find better-paying employment because of the paralysis due to the shooting.
The shooting not only destroyed his vertebrae but it shattered our whole family’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations. It has affected each of our children.
Our son who witnessed the shooting had to leave Western Carolina and his dream of being a high school band director. He has battled depression because of the shooting.
Our son who has autism is angry and hurt that someone would do this to his step-father. Because of his disability, he doesn’t fully understand – but he constantly blames me for the shooting because I had to use the bathroom. Can you imagine what emotional trauma this does to me?
Our oldest daughter will not have the opportunity to have her Daddy walk her down the aisle in a year or two when she gets married. We all grieve this. The Daddy-Daughter dance she has dreamt about will not be able to happen.
Our little girl, the youngest, also witnessed the shooting. She saw her Daddy in his own blood, crying out thinking he was dead. She constantly asks if he will ever walk again. She has decided she wants to be a surgeon when she grows up, so she can get the bullet out of his back.
The shooting has affected us in other ways, Your Honor.
Most people who see us at church or in public see us as strong and resilient. In reality, we are suffering and hurting. It’s awfully hard to talk about a tragedy and trauma of this magnitude – who has that kind of experience? We feel so very alone. We are struggling in every way. Yet, Jesus is with us and we know that He is our Provision, our Peace, and our Protector. In His strength, we will move forward the best we can.
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The defendant received 23 years in prison. In NC, there are six record levels in the felony punishment chart -- the higher the number, the more violent the offender. The defendant is a level four offender with 11 points for prior convictions over ten years, starting at age sixteen when he dropped out of school. The week before the hearing, he claimed he was "disrespected" by his cell mate, whom he subsequently beat up. He was presently in solitary confinement because of the beating during the hearing. He will be 51 years old when he leaves prison. No one from his family showed at the hearing.
In Him Alone,
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