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Letter: Father is sorry, thankful for judge, state troopers restraint
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I wanted to reach out and thank Judge Jason Deal for his understanding during the trial of my son Leighton Beaux Marchetta. I pitied him being stuck with such a delicate case. Trying to balance justice with the law is not an easy task, and this particular case was probably harder than most. I applaud him for recognizing that my sons intent was not to harm anyone, but to commit suicide.

Unfortunately, his actions had consequences for the officers and their families. Believe me when I say I understand the anger of Officer Stephen Thompson’s wife at what the stress of this one incident has done to her husband. It broke my heart to hear Officer Thompson testify as to how he now suffers from the same afflictions my son suffers from after his tour of duty.

To Officer Thompson and Officer Jeremy Allison, I want you to know that again I thank you for the restraint you showed during the initial encounter, and I want to apologize to you that a member of my family did this to you. I wish there was a way that I could undo what you went through. Gentlemen, you have my deepest respect and gratitude. It is officers like you who remind all of us of why your service, commitment and integrity are so highly valued in our community. Thank you.

To the rest of the community, I want to urge you to look into post-traumatic stress disorder. You are probably like me last June, blissfully unaware of how widespread this problem is. During the PTSD Awareness rally, we heard from several people who told us their stories of what brought this on. I spoke to many ex-military who suffered due to combat experiences. I spoke to a rape victim. I spoke to a schoolteacher who lost her young son to cancer. I even saw in person two valiant police officers take the stand in court describing their suffering.

This is a problem that crosses all walks of life. It is time we raise awareness of not only how deep this problem is, but the lack of resources available to those who suffer from it. Treatment options are severely limited for such a widespread problem. It is time our government officials begin to focus on it before we see more incidents like this one happening here in Hall County.

We need to expand our Avita-provided mental health services to include treatment of PTSD for our returning veterans. We can’t afford to wait on the VA, as was noted by Judge Deal in court during the trial when testimony revealed a week or two delay between a request for an appointment with their crisis unit.

Last, but not least, I want to thank Harold Nash and all the veterans who showed up in support for my son. You gentlemen are a credit to our country, and the uniforms you wear. It was good to see so many of you who understand what my son is going through and were willing to show him that he does not have to suffer alone. You, gentlemen, are indeed our unsung heroes.

Once again, my thanks and my apologies to everyone involved.

Lee Marchetta
Gainesville

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