Paint Louis Follow Up

JONAH IS IN THE BELLY OF THE WHALE

The original email From his dad to friends and family, 7/4/2000

On the evening of June 28, Jonah Anderson aka “STUN”, (who is one of the top air-brush and graffiti artists in St. Louis, nationally known, and also my son) and his friend Jesus were coming hope from a bar in St. Louis. Jesus was driving his car through the alley behind the building where he lives to the spot where he parks his car. The alley was blocked by a truck. Jesus peeped the horn and hollered to move the vehicle so he could park. Four men and a woman were standing near the truck. The men approached the car as Jesus and Jonah got out. Before hardly a word was spoken, Jonah was attacked by two of the men, Jesus by at least one of them. Jonah went down almost immediately from a blow to the head by, we think, a baseball bat, pipe, or perhaps a piece of wood. The men continued to beat Jesus, but finished up by going back one more time at Jonah who was already unconscious and lying on the ground bleeding.
 
After the men and girl left, Jesus struggled the two blocks to where Jonah lived to get help. We still don’t know exactly who called the police, but that resulted in Jonah being removed from the alley by ambulance and delivered to St. Louis University Hospital. He was rushed into surgery where the good doctors spent 3 hours operating on Jonah’s brain, a small part of which had to be removed. He was stabilized and was sent to the high risk ICU unit on the 5th floor where he has remained since. The folks at the hospital have told us he was only minutes away from death. The doctors have said that it’s likely Jonah has suffered permanent damage and that we should be prepared for the worst. He has been fighting to stay alive for six days, but hasn’t yet turned the corner to recovery. He is still in great danger.
 
Jesus at the time of this writing has still not been to a hospital, but appears to be okay. He has spoken to the police and has identified three of the men who caused the assault. The two that attacked Jonah are in custody. These two men, brothers 29 and 30, have an extensive history with the police. At the time of this event, they were out on bond in regard to the beating of a man who was simply getting out of his pickup truck. That man was beaten with a baseball bat. Blows to the head, resulting in the man’s face and bone structure having to be completely rebuilt. Apparently there was no provocation.
 
I was awakened the same evening as the assault about two in the morning here in Grand Rapids by a call from his mother, Kathy, in Minneapolis. I immediately called Uncle Randy, Randy Bishop, who lives in St. Louis and who is very close to Jonah. He immediately went to the hospital and then to Jonah’s apartment to gather further information. Even before Randy got to the hospital, Jonah’s art community had arrived. Nina MacDonald, who runs a coffee shop and is mother by blood to two of the city’s young artists, and foster mom to many more, was already there along with others.
 
Kathy was able to get there about noon of the following day. I arrived in the evening. I can tell you, it was quite a shock to see our 27 year old, 6′-2″, 240 lb baby boy laying motionless in that hospital bed. Wires and tubes everywhere connected to digital this at that, monitoring every function of his body. In the six days that have followed, he has held his own. We were told he might lose the control over his right side motor skills, but he has already (still unconscious), with his right hand, reached up and grabbed the arm of a doctor who was adjusting some tubes. Today, as his bed was being adjusted, he attempted to sit up (again, still unconscious). Over the last few days, he has moved all his limbs while positioning himself in the bed. It is plain to see that he’s fighting to get back to us. This has had a downside though. In his agitation, the pressure on his brain goes back up along with his blood pressure. Just as the doctors were beginning to wean him off of the medication that keeps him sedated, they’ve had to increase the medication again to keep him still. It is important that he becomes conscious as soon as possible to avoid the pitfalls of being in a hospital bed so long. As long as he lays there he is at risk for pneumonia, stroke, and infection for starters. When he is conscious, the pressure on his brain and his blood pressure will have subsided to a level of safety. Then, and only then can we take a deep breath.
 
In the days following the assault, Kathy and I have been overwhelmed by how much our son is loved and respected by the community. Not only St. Louis, but all over the country. The calls have come from all over the USA from his fellow graffiti artists wanting to know how STUN (Jonah’s painting handle) was doing and if there was anything they could do. Nina, with a little help from her and Jonah’s friends, has begun organizing all those who Jonah worked for, the clubs, the restaurants, the people involved with Paint Louis (the city’s annual graffiti project at the flood wall of which Jonah was one of the founders and who currently sits on the board of the connected non-profit corporation.). All media, radio, TV, and the newspapers have been contacted. Over the next couple of weeks this story will become very well known to the general public. That’s it up till this point,
 
7/4/00 9:00 AM CST
 
The chronological order of the updates continue at Past Updates and the most recent updates are below on this page.

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CURRENT UPDATES

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Jonah's World
 


Saturday 5/18/02 7:30 PM CST –
 
Today I received a copy of the sentencing information that was sent to Jonah sometime in the last couple of days. Both Daniel and Dennis Boehle were sentenced on May 3rd. (No phone call as had been promised by the city attorney’s office. They obviously didn’t want to hear our comments.) So, here’s the letter that Jonah received:
 

Dear Mr. Anderson:

This letter is being sent to ensure that you are aware of the outcome of a case recently closed by the Circuit Attorney’s Office.
The results are as follows:
Defendants: Dennis and Daniel Boehle
Case Outcome: Defendants plead guilty as charged.
Sentence: 120 day Shock, 5yr SES probation, if violated must serve 10yr. Missouri Department Of Corrections.
Date Case Closed: 5/3/02
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call me at Victim Services 314-622-4373, or call attorney Jennifer Roy 314-622-4941.

Sincerely,

 

Sheila Barnes
Victim Services Case Manager

 


Apparently Jonah’s mother talked with Jennifer Roy a couple of days ago. The brothers also received an additional 120 days for the brutal beating of another man. You may recall, they were out on probation for that crime when they attacked Jonah. They have to report weekly to their probation officer when they get out of prison. If they are late, no show or any other violation, it will be an automatic back to prison to serve the full term. They must attend anger management class. They will have random drug testing. They have to be employed. Roy also suggests that we follow up with the Judge to make sure any violations are taken seriously and they are not given another chance. It was also suggested that we could file a civil suit against them.
 
Since the time the brothers were arrested for attacking Jonah, the brothers have been in a county jail. The Shock sentencing means the remaining jail time will be in prison. No one has informed us what SES probation means. I guess we’re supposed to know that. Again, you will recall, these brothers have a record with the police a mile long. That apparently had no bearing on the sentencing. They were on probation for beating a man so badly that the man’s entire face had to be reconstructed surgically. Nearly murdering Jonah, while on that probation, doesn’t appear to be a violation worthy of them serving a full sentence for that crime or for the crime against my son. Anger management class, what a crock of crap! I’m sure that will be very useful. AND NOW, it becomes OUR responsibility to see that the court takes any future violations seriously. Well, I guess that makes sense. In my opinion, the court system has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can’t be trusted to handle the responsibility. As for filing a civil case, we will certainly attempt to do that. However, I had talked to an attorney about that over a year ago. That attorney made it abundantly clear that it wouldn’t be worth his time to handle it, unless we were willing to pay his normal fee, which of course, we couldn’t possibly afford to do.


From me, Jonah’s father, to the following:
 
To the St. Louis City Attorney’s Office: Pathetic! The Constitution of the United States of America guarantees a quick and speedy trial by a jury of peers. Jonah’s constitutional rights were denied. You may not have been able to stop all the delays of high priced lawyers, but you had a responsibility, win or lose, to get those two animals in front of a jury. You had witnesses and depositions. You had the opportunity. We wanted our day in court. We were denied. You blew it!
 
To the Judges involved: What is your job anyway? Don’t you look at the evidence, the history of the offenders, the seriousness of the crime? Who ultimately protects the citizenry, if not YOU? You, Judge Steven Ohmer, as the sentencing Judge, had the authority and the opportunity to override any deals and see to it that the brothers finally paid for their crimes. You didn’t do that! You ignored our pleas and those of countless people who wrote you concerning this case. Just totally ignored it all. Judges like you are responsible for the epidemic crime in this country. Judges like you, sitting in judgment; that’s a crime! How do you sleep at night?
 
To the Boehle Brothers: You didn’t totally beat the system, but you’re grandparents money was well spent. You will not pay the full measure of your crimes. My son, the artist, who never did anything to you. Not even that night you attacked him. He never raised a hand against you. He will never have normal vision again. The rest of the damage to his brain is yet to be determined. You will never pay for that. I sincerely doubt that animals like you believe in God. That will be the great awakening of your life or death as the case may be. You can beat the justice system, but a higher court awaits you. In that court, you most assuredly will pay in full measure.
 
To the Boehle Grandparents: As a parent, I can understand you’re protection of the brothers. I can understand the difficulty in raising two boys when the parents couldn’t or wouldn’t. I don’t know the whole story on that. But I do know that you kept them from ever having to deal with the ramifications of their actions, going all the way back to when they were children and right up to your paying for high priced lawyers to get them out of this. It’s a shame you didn’t act responsibly when they were young. Now, look what you raised. Look what you’ve protected. You bear a great part of the responsibility for what they’ve become.
 
To the good people of St. Louis: Well, that’s your justice system at work. How’d they do? Are you satisfied that the courts and judges are doing a good job? If this attack had happened to your son or daughter, would you be satisfied with the outcome? The victim could have been your husband, your wife. So, are you okay with the way this has been handled? Sometime late this year or early next year, 240 days from May 3rd, the Boehle brothers will be back on your streets, free to do whatever they think they can get away with. How do you feel about that? I haven’t taken the time to figure out the exact day, but you might want to figure it out. The boys WILL be back in the neighborhood! Because they’re going to anger management classes, will you be okay with them living next door? Good luck folks. Think about this, the citizens of St. Louis, control St. Louis. Not the politicians, not the justice system. They hold position because of your trust in them to do the job. One way or another you have control over who does what and how well they do it, as your representatives in government.
 
To all of you who wrote letters to the court: I told you at the time, the letters may not have an effect on the outcome. They didn’t. I don’t know if anyone actually read them. It would seem that they didn’t. But, what’s really important is you took the opportunity to try. God Bless You for that. I know He will. Be proud of yourself for that effort. In my book, you are first class citizens. You did what so many people never do. Stood up and be counted for something you believed in. I will never be able to explain to you how much that meant to all of us on this end. To have you in the fight with us was an incredible gift. I encourage all of you to continue the fight for real justice in this country in every and anyway you can. Let this story be the beginning of your activism, not the end. Let’s all climb up on our roofs tonight and scream at the top of our lungs the great quote from the movie “Network”, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” If we don’t stand up to the crap in the world, it will bury us all. It is always our personal responsibility to make our own world. You can’t count on anyone else to do it, they won’t. Not the politicians, not the media, and certainly not the courts.
 
I know that this update has a bitter tone, to say the least. I won’t apologize for that. Truth is, this update doesn’t scratch the surface of my anger, frustration, and disgust. So in closing, I think it would be good to remember some of the good things.
 
To the gentleman who called the police the night of the attack: I’m embarrassed that I can’t remember your name at this moment. Perhaps for your safety, I shouldn’t mention it anyway. You saved my son’s life. Thank you, God Bless You.
 
To all the doctors and nurses in the ICU unit at St. Louis University Hospital: Surely God has his arms wrapped around you every minute. I can’t imagine the stress of dealing with life and death situations everyday as you do. Thank you so much for keeping Jonah alive. Thank you for being the finest of human beings.
 
To all the other doctors, nurses and therapists who have helped to bring Jonah back: Again, I don’t know how you all keep it up every day. Without your tireless work, Jo would have never made it this far. We are very thankful for your incredible dedication.
 
To numerous government agencies: Over the last two years we’ve dealt with a host of agencies that have and still do provide Jonah with a great deal of care. It has been a comfort to us to have had your help. Without it, this would have been a never ending nightmare. You share a great deal in Jo’s recovery and return to the world. Thank you.
 
To Jonah’s friends: To refer to you as just friends is less than you have been. You are truly a part of his family. You are an integral part of his very being. I remember several of you saying, “to know him, is to love him.” I was very touched to hear that. I want you all to know, we feel that way about you. One of the few joys of this whole experience has been getting to know so many of you.
 
To our friends and family: You know you have our everlasting thanks for your support. There were a few times when we would have fallen apart without your caring for us and Jonah. Thank you.
 
To you who have read and followed this story: We’ve all been amazed at how many of you there are. Amazed at how this story has gone beyond the immediate family and friends. I don’t know how you stumbled into our world and it’s events, but you did. You’ve become a part of all this. Thank you for caring enough to follow and participate. I’m enormously glad you’ve been impacted. It’s so important that we all care about each other. You’ve shown that you do. Thanks.
 
Well, all that said, it’s time to call it a night. I don’t expect there will be many more, if any, updates. For those of you who’ve been waiting patiently to know how it all would come out, there you are. Still, this isn’t the end of the story. We will file a civil suit if we can. We will take this story to the media, especially the St. Louis papers. What has happened over the last two years will not be forgotten. If and when there is more to tell you, I will. Thanks for listening.


Friday 5/17/02 11:30 AM CST –
 
We were told by the St. Louis city attorney’s office that the sentencing for one of the brothers was to take place on the first Friday of May. That was the last we heard from them. Blind Mother Justice marches on! I’d have to check the updates to be sure, but I think the process of sentencing the brothers was supposed to happen back in ’01. Still nothing! For those of you who have followed all this, I imagine you’re as amazed as we are as to the workings of the justice system. What has happened to our court system? In my opinion, it’s a joke. And the joke is on the law abiding citizens of our country. Law and Justice are different things! If and when we get ANY information, I’ll pass it on to you.
 
Jonah is still happy as a clam to have his own place. He’s looking for work and still exploring the possibility of getting into some classes for computer graphics. Because of his move to a different part of the Twin Cities, all of his government aid contacts have changed. Which means he’s pretty much back to square one in the process of getting any help in the above areas. His condition continues to improve though. His speech and energy in particular.


Wednesday 4/17/02 9:30 AM CST –
 
Well, the day we’ve been waiting for finally came this past weekend. Jonah has moved out on his own. It’s been almost two years of having someone watching over his shoulder. Now, he starts the road to being his own man again. Last Sunday we rented a U-Haul truck and loaded all his stuff from here, picked up some more stuff from step-brother Ted, more stuff from his mom’s, and even more stuff from my sister Donna, and delivered it all to his one bedroom apartment near downtown St. Paul. As you can see in the picture, he’s got plenty of stuff.
 
About a month ago, I had some real concerns whether he’d be able to keep making the same kind of progress on his future without someone prodding him. We had a long and serious talk about that. I had told him that I didn’t know that he was really ready for this move and that I was worried about it. That bothered him. So over the last couple of weeks he was determined to show me that he could, indeed, handle it. I told him, it wasn’t me he had to prove anything to. He needed to prove it to himself. He’s done well. Now, the future is up to him.
 
It’s a bit strange not to have him around here, for us and for him. But, he loves his new place and his new freedom. The next two things on his agenda will be getting the school thing together and a job. He’s still getting some one on one help and of course all of us are close at hand to support him when necessary. The test will be, is he ready to motivate himself. I think he is. The next few months will probably be the most important of his life. He has to take control of his own future now.
 
PS. No word yet on the sentencing of his attackers.


Thursday 3/21/02 12:30 PM CST –
 
We’ve all been waiting quite a while now for news about the sentencing of the Boehle Brothers. I placed a call to the city attorney’s office two weeks ago and hadn’t received a return call. So today I tried again and did get through to Jennifer Roy. The sentencing has not taken place yet. A different Judge has been assigned to this case which has caused the delay. Man! Are you as amazed as I am about how the criminal justice system works? At present, both brothers are scheduled to be sentenced the first week of May. Jennifer said there have been a lot of letters. We all thank you very much for that. It’s really nice to know that so many of you are concerned about this. All the letters have been forwarded to the new Judge. If you haven’t sent a letter and are interested in doing so, follow this link for the new mailing information. When I get more info on the sentencing, you’ll all be the second to know.
 
Jonah’s recovery continues and is going very well. He’s been in a special school here in Blaine where he’s been upgrading his basic educational skills so he can begin taking college level classes for computer graphics. The attack reduced his learning skills back to junior high level, and he’s had to fight his way back from that. It ain’t been easy for him to do, but he’s working hard. We think he’ll be accepted soon into one of the local art schools.
 
We think that he will finally be moving from home to a place of his own at the end of this month. We’ll know soon about that. He’s really looking forward to having that kind of control over his life again.
 
He’s been working on various art projects, air brushing t-shirts, some local walls, and working on his website art. In fact, about two weeks ago, we completely reorganized, JonahWorld.com. We’ve tripled the amount of art work available there and organized things so you can navigate the site faster.
 
One of his closest friends from St. Louis, Matt, has moved up here. That’s been just wonderful for Jo. He and Matt get together on a regular basis to paint and DJ. The hardest thing for him has been his missing his friends. He just doesn’t have as many here as he did in St. Louis.
 
I want to finish up here be letting you know that over the last couple of weeks. Jonah has gained another level in his recovery. His speech and how he carries himself has shown a new level of improvement. Most of the time, you’d never know anything had happened to him. The old Jonah is almost back. Thank God, and thanks for all the people who have cared so much for him.


Wednesday 1/9/02 3:00 PM CST –
 
We just recently got word that the sentencing has been put off. I guess they are waiting for space in the prison. Also, the brothers are to be split up for the first time. One will be sentenced in Feb. the other in April. So there’s still time to get a letter off to the judge. Please read below to find out about the why we’re asking for the letters. Thanks.


Thursday 12/27/01 6:30 PM CST –
 
We’ve heard from many of you who are writing letters. Thank you. If you haven’t written yet and want to, there’s still time if you act now. Here’s some information that I’m a bit late getting to you, but it may be helpful if your letter hasn’t been mailed. On the outside of the letter, you could put: Concerning the sentencing of the Boehle Brothers. If you didn’t have that on your envelope, don’t worry about it. I’ve hesitated to use their names on this site as I’m unsure of any legal ramifications, but at this point, screw that! The guys that did the damage to Jonah are Dennis and Danial Boehle.


Wednesday 11/28/01 2:00 PM CST –
 
Kathy just got a call from Jennifer Roy, Assistant Circuit Attorney, City of St. Louis. Jennifer has been handling Jonah’s case. The brothers have pleaded guilty, and the judge will be sentencing them on January 11, 2002. If you read the previous update (below), you know what Jonah’s attackers have bargained for. But, we still have the opportunity to influence the judges sentence. We’ve been invited to send letters to the judge expressing what we feel the defendants should receive as punishment. Over this last year and a half, I’ve made several comments about how we all need to take personal responsibility in stopping the violence in our world. It never crossed my mind that those of you reading this would be able to participate in the process of justice in Jonah’s case. If you’ve followed this story, I would hope you have some strong feelings you’d like to share with the court. If you’ve just recently been a visitor, and don’t know the whole story, I invite you to start at the beginning and read it through to the last update. It’s been a very dramatic event in all our lives.
 
Sooooooo! If you think a great injustice is about to be done, will you actually write the letter and participate in this final judgment. If yes, I strongly urge you, do it right now. If you don’t have time to finish it, at least begin the letter now. It’s easy to walk away and forget, it difficult to focus and take action, but the reward, is to feed the soul. Think about it. If you wish to take this opportunity to voice your thoughts, here’s where to send your letter.
 
The sentencing Judge is:

Judge Steven Ohmer


1320 Market Street

Division 22

Saint Louis, MO 63103

 
Copies of letter should be sent to (and she’ll make sure they are put in the file):

Jennifer Roy
, Assistant Circuit Attorney

At Room 330

1320 Market Street

Saint Louis, MO 63103

 
The court is interested in knowing how WE feel the defendants should be sentenced. That should be the content of your letter, the punishment and why we believe it would be just. Please be careful of the language, we’re addressing a Judge. We all want our thoughts to be seriously considered. We hope you’ll take this opportunity and invite everyone you know to do the same.
 
All of us who love Jonah would deeply appreciate your effort. The judge’s decision on the sentencing will be posted as soon as we know it.


Tuesday 11/20/01 11:00 AM CST –
 
Well, we’ve all been waiting quite a while (a year and a half to be more precise) for the St. Louis City Attorney’s Office (STLCAO) to bring this case to trial. We can stop waiting. There will not be a trial! The STLCAO informs us that after so much time passing, the witnesses now can’t remember the details of the case, even though, there are depositions on file to the facts. The doctor that examined Jonah after the attack, had stated that the wound to his head could not have happened from him falling to the ground and was caused by some weapon, now, he doesn’t remember saying that and can’t testify to it. One witness still is certain that he saw one of the attackers wielding what appeared to be a 2×4 in the attack, but he didn’t actually see Jonah hit by it. So, apparently, that isn’t good enough evidence to be used in court. Jesus had been drinking the night of the attack, so his testimony is apparently weak. Unless I’m getting very old and my memory is as bad as Jonah’s, I remember the city attorney telling us that one of the attackers was going to testify against the brothers in order to get a reduced sentence, or something to that affect. I’m now told by the city attorney that she had never said that. (I’ve scanned the past updates, but couldn’t find anything about it. I have a hard time believing that I created that in my own head. Kathy remembers something about it, but isn’t sure.) There are also other witnesses, but none of them apparently can be counted on to remember or provide enough evidence or to tell the truth about what happened.
 
A couple of weeks back, the city attorney had called, explaining all the above. And went on to say, that the situation was, that a decision had to be made in regard to bringing the brothers to trial or going with a plea bargain. From the very beginning we were very clear, “no bargains, we want the people who did this in court.” I asked her, “do you believe the brothers are guilty?” She said that she did. Then I told her that our feelings on the matter hadn’t changed. No matter what the evidence was at this point, it was important to us, that there be a trial in front of a jury of St. Louis citizens. I was told that if the brothers testified in their own defense, their extensive record with the police could be brought into evidence. (I’m amazed that their record would otherwise be hidden.) Even though I doubted they’d do that, and knowing the evidence against them had eroded through time, we affirmed that we wanted a trial. Perhaps it was a bit “Pollyanna”, but we really believed that if the attorney for the city was armed with the knowledge that they were fighting a just cause, they would find a way, somehow, to get the message across to a jury. Then let the citizens of St. Louis make the decision to put these barbarians back on their streets. We would rather have risked a “not guilty” verdict, than bargained with them. She took what we had to say and went back to counsel with the rest of the STLCAO to make a decision on what they would do.
 
I had also gotten a call from some lady in the court system that had the responsibility for making the arrangements for Jonah and someone to travel with him to come to St. Louis. It was extremely clear from talking with her that the city wasn’t very comfortable with the expense of bringing us or Jesus, who is now in Colorado, to the trial. I do think that was part of the decision process.
 
I got a message on my answering machine yesterday from the city attorney. They have decided to go with the plea bargain, no trial. Sometime after, Thanksgiving, the brothers will appear before a judge and plead guilty to the attack on Jonah. As I understand it, the judge will sentence them to 15 years in prison. They are still in jail at this time. They will serve 120 additional days in jail (something called the Shock Program), having done that time, they will be released to the streets of St.Louis, on probation for five years. During that time, if they break probation, or commit another crime, they will go to prison for the full sentence. Remember way back when, this was only a few minutes from being a murder charge.
 
As I was scanning back over the updates, I was amazed that I had written so little about the legal side of all this. The justice system is one of the great tragedies of this story. The St. Louis PD. did a great job in apprehending the criminals. Great job! At one point the evidence of the crime was strong. Then it took the court a year and a half to actually get to the date of a trial. Part of that delay was caused by the overloading of the court system, part by the actions of the defense attorneys. That delay, and how the system can be manipulated, is why these brothers will be free in 4 months. I wonder how many trials take place with repeat offenders. How many plea bargains keep putting the same people back into society. It’s no wonder why the courts are backed up. I don’t profess to know much about the law, justice, the system in the technical aspects. But I seem to remember about having some rights as a citizen of this country. (But then, apparently my memory is failing.) That our justice system is supposed to protect us from the bad guys. Right now, we’re all feeling as violated as Jonah. Where has our right to even attempt to see justice done gone. We’ve lived through a nightmare, and a bad dream that continues. Jonah’s right eye will be damaged for life. He has not fully recovered his ability to function as he once had. There are no guarantees that he will, only hope. Seems to us, that Jonah gets a life sentence, the city of St. Louis gets the brothers back in 120 days, and all of us who care for and about Jonah are left with no resolution. No voice to be heard. No justice.
 
I will have another update for you after the brothers have actually appeared before the judge.
 
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