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Rachel Barezinsky Case: Day 1 - P.2

Posted by Atticus on Monday, June 22, 2009 Under: People

Allen S. Davis is in her prayers, but Rachel Barezinsky doesn't forgive him for shooting her.

Allen


"I pray for Allen Davis, that he will get better and realize what he did is wrong," Rachel said. "I would forgive him if he said, 'Sorry,' but he hasn't done that."

Nearly 11 months after the "ghost hunting" shooting last August and more than a week after a Franklin County judge sentenced Davis to 19 years in prison, the debate continues about who's at fault for what happened that night.

On blogs and radio call-in shows, some people have criticized Rachel and her four girlfriends, all of whom were seniors at Thomas Worthington High School, for going to a stranger's house just because they had heard stories that it was haunted.

Davis, 41, told police that he and his mother, Sondra, had been provoked for years by trespassers who would tear up their yard and threaten them. He said he fired his .22-caliber rifle out of his bedroom window to teach the girls a lesson.

"The main goal was to drive these people off and to teach them to stop coming and harassing and trespassing," he said in a WBNS-TV interview that prosecutors were going to use if he hadn't pleaded guilty. "That last shot did the trick."

Sondra Davis wants Rachel and the other girls, especially the three who stepped onto the property, to pay for ruining their lives.

"These three teenage criminal trespassers and bullies should spend time in Juvenile Court and perform community service," she wrote in a court document filed Thursday, asking that the girls be charged with trespassing.

Police and prosecutors say that the girls intruded on the property only a few feet, no more than a door-to-door salesman or Girl Scout selling cookies would. Prosecutors say that isn't trespassing. And they say that if Davis was scared, he should have called police, which he hadn't done in more than 10 years.

"He has not shown any remorse, and even said he would do it again," Assistant County Prosecutor Nancy Moores said in court. "He has chosen to live in isolation from the rest of society, but he cannot live above the law."

The girls said they meant no harm and didn't know that Davis, a reclusive, self-employed writer, lived at the house or had been harassed in the past.

Rachel's parents say they knew about the girls' plans that night but thought they were going to drive by the cemetery and the house without stopping.

"Do people honestly believe that this guy has the right to shoot Rachel?" her father, Greg Barezinsky, said. "I can't help what happened to Allen Davis in the past. He shot at them as they were driving away. It wasn't a prank, and they weren't playing a trick."

Many of the girls' parents thought of their trips to search for spirits as harmless fun.

"They never intended to appear as a threat or cause danger," said Suzanne Gravette Acker, whose daughter, Tessa, drove the car the night of the shooting. "Their intent was the youthful thrill of being scared by mysterious and tantalizing spookiness."

Acker did the same thing as a teenager growing up in Colorado, stopping at old fox farms in the country. "It was a thrill, a kind of rite of passage," she said.

Hidden by a tangle of trees, the Davis house has tempted generations of Worthington teens.

"It's the kind of environment that is scary" and attracts teenagers, Common Pleas Judge Julie M. Lynch told Davis at his plea hearing.

Lynch imposed the maximum sentence -- eight years each for two felonious-assault counts and three years for using a gun. Three other charges were dropped.

Davis said he was sorry for what he did and regretted what happened, but authorities and Rachel's family don't believe his apology was genuine. Davis told the court that he didn't understand why an offer to serve 10 years in prison was rejected.

"You have taken responsibility … but the reality is you don't believe what you did was wrong," the judge told him.

Under state law, Davis will have to serve the full 19 years. He is being held at the Correctional Reception Center at Orient.

No one has studied local or state sentencing trends by judge or crime, but if they had they would find "a wide disparity among judges," said Roger Koeck, president of the Central Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

"They are told when they sentence someone they're supposed to give similar sentences for similar crimes," he said. "But there's some question as to whether that means to that judge, to that county or throughout the state of Ohio."

Overall, judges have been protected on appeal when they follow the stated sentencing ranges, which were capped in 1996 at 10 years for all crimes that don't involve homicide.

The Barezinskys say, now that the case is behind them, they can put their full attention back on Rachel as she recovers from brain injuries that damaged her short-term memory and control of her left side.

"The sweetest revenge for what Allen Davis did is for Rachel to go to college, get married, have children and a wonderful career and life," said her mother, Amy Barezinsky.

Rachel says she will continue to pray for her family and friends, world peace and the Davises.

"Life has been tough, but I'm not full of anger or hate," she said last week. "He's a sick man who needs help. And we don't need to be sad anymore -- I'm getting better."

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