May 13, 1997
Dear Friends, My son, Brent Ullery, 23, has just been sentenced with the DEATH PENALTY by a jury in the Cleveland County Court, Norman, Oklahoma. THIS IS VERY WRONG.
He has been severely mentally ill since late in 1991. All kinds of evidence substantiates that, yet his trial consisted of judge, prosecution, and jurors looking the other way--both for the insanity defense and the punishment phase of the trial. It is absolutely unbelievable to me how the trial was conducted...in our dear America. The judge still has the power to change the sentence, but if I understand correctly, he has never done that. Final sentencing is set for Thursday, May 22, 1997, at the Cleveland County Court House, 201 S. Jones, Norman, Okla., at 2:30 p.m.
Some people are outraged that a mentally ill person could be sentenced to death. I am, too. Some people are planning to come to show support and outrage; and others are writing to the judge. Below is some background I have already written to others: I will never be able to express enough sympathy, say enough prayers, or shed enough tears for the death of Nancy Neal, 43, which my son, Brent Ullery, then 19 now 23, caused during a severe psychotic episode in which he had no control. Likewise, I will never be able to express enough of the same sorrow to my son, for he did not choose this illness; it chose him.
Tragically, Brent's actions during this horrible psychotic episode are the absolute opposite of all the rest of his life when he seemed to so easily go from one scholastic honor to the next, becoming one of the top 100 high school scholars in the state and a graduate of the first class of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. Never mind what a joy we had with him fishing, camping, antiquing, hugging the cat together, planning for the future...living our daily lives.
What am I asking you to say to the judge? Whatever you want, of course. Some of my examples include:
* Before onset of his neurobiological brain disease, Brent was far from
heading toward being a criminal.
* Severe mental illnesses can not be punished out of a person; severe and physical brain disorders like Brent's must be treated early with up-to-date, appropriate medications, and proper care.
* Brent's audio and visual hallucinations, flat affect, deterioration in physical care, change in thought processes, age of onset (19), lack of insight about his illness, periodic self-mutilation, cyclic manic and depressive episodes--are all classic symptoms of severe mental illness.
* Mental illness does not discriminate; it can happen to anyone.
* People with mental illnesses often do not even know they are sick.
* Early and proper care and treatment for his mental illness would have very likely kept Brent from entering the criminal system.
Brent has finally been given three medications which help the cyclic symptoms of schizoaffective disorder (combination of schizophrenia and manic-depressive disorder). It also has lessened the audio and visual hallucinations. He battles memory loss, shaking, mini-seizures, and other side effects because, so far, he has not had access to the newer medications which often result in fewer side effects. Without medication, he remains so low that he just wants the state to "get it over with". On appropriate meds, he is a lot like the quiet, considerate, and thinking Brent we all know. Please ask anyone you know to join this letter-writing campaign. The more the better the point is made to stop all this stigma about mental illness so people can learn about it, deal with it properly, and promote more research to be done...to prevent all this wasting of lives. WE'VE GOT TO SPEAK UP. Whether you decide to write or not, please accept my warmest appreciation for far far more support than I ever would have anticipated at the onset of this tragedy. Please Mail Letters Before Friday, May 16, 1997
Address letters to: The Honorable William Hetherington c/o Atty. Debbie
Maddox Indigent Defense Capital Trial System 1623 Kelly Center Norman,
Okla. 73019 I can't thank you enough, Jackie Dahlgren
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