A harrowing account of the sentencing hearing of Trevor Reese, 20, who slashed the throat of eight-year-old Jackson Attuso. Reese was sentenced last week to life in the Louisiana State Prison at Angola. Excerpt:
A second psychologist, Dr. Robert Davis, who examined Trevor shortly after the murder occurred, said, “Trevor is an abnormal teen. He has a superior intellect with an IQ between 120 and 129.”
Davis said that after the murder, Reese was emotionally crushed and intellectually confused. “He did not feel the excitement he had expected to feel. He expected to feel relief but instead was faced with an emotional cascade that was completely the opposite of what he expected.”
Davis said Reese committed the murder based on a false belief and delusion that he thought he was becoming a serial killer.
“He was anticipating being a serial killer. He stated that he thought he didn’t feel relief because he had done something wrong in the process of the murder. He thought that if he did it again differently, perhaps to a female, that he would find relief,” said Davis.
The third witness was Dr. Geroge Seiden, the court appointed psychiatrist. He said he was troubled by the fact that Reese showed no remorse. “The absence of remorse is an predictor of repeating the behavior. Most people feel guilt, and that inhibits them from doing it again. It isn’t the doing of wrong that worries me… good people do wrong things. It is just how we process those things afterwards,” said Seiden.
“The outcome of the murder was inconsistent with his plan. He expected to feel good afterwards and he was disappointed when he didn’t. He knew that what he’d done was wrong, but he didn’t have remorse. He was mad at himself because he thought he had not committed the murder in the correct way to garner the expected emotional result,” said Seiden.
The next witness called by D’Aquilla was Dr. Owen Scott III, Monique Attuso’s therapist. Monique asked Scott to make a statement on her behalf.
Scott said Monique suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which means that she has a relentless re-experiencing of the events that took place that day. He said she has a very high level of emotional agony after being subjected to something no parent should have to endure.
In a letter to Scott, Monique stated, “I’ve lost the happiest, most joyful soul I’ve ever known.”
Scott explained that Monique, upon finding her son, shifted into a medical mindset to access her medical knowledge to try to save Jackson’s life. “It was as if she were an emergency room doctor working on a patient. So, instead of being able to respond to Jackson in his last moments as a loving mother, Monique was forced to react as a doctor to an impossibly terrible situation,” said Scott.
“She wants you to know that Jackson wasn’t left unsupervised. He was right ahead of her. Jackson was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Scott.
“Even she realized later that she knew there was nothing she could have done, regardless of how much medical equipment she may have had with her. Jackson’s neck was practically severed, except for his spine,” said Scott.
Unglesby asked Scott if Monique felt any relief knowing that Reese admitted to the crime.
“No. She feels that Reese is a threatening individual and the idea of him being eligible for parole is frightening to her.”
The next witness was Wayne Attuso, Jackson’s grandfather, who gave a victim impact statement.
Upon Wayne’s request, D’Aquilla gave Reese a photo of Jackson.
Wayne said, “I want you to stare at that picture… because you will see that face when you wake up each
morning, at times during the day, and before you go to sleep for the rest of your life. This is the curse that I put on you. You knew nothing about Jack. He was a little boy who loved life. We called him Smiling Jack because he went to bed each night with a smile on his face and he woke up each morning with that same smile. Every day was an adventure for him. The devastation you caused my family will heal eventually, but a scar will always be there. The hole you created in our hearts is filled with all the wonderful memories we have of Jack. In the weeks following Jacks death, I was insane with hatred. I never knew I was capable of the kind of hatred I had for you. Since then I’ve come to my senses and I don’t hate you anymore, but I will never forgive you. That’s not my job. That belongs to someone other than me. After today, I will close the chapter on you. You will not exist in our family’s world. It is my hope that if you ever do leave prison, it will be feet first in a pine box.”
Next, Jackson’s father Craig Attuso shakily testified. “Watching my wife… over the last three years has certainly been difficult. Painful. After hearing everything today I ask that you impose the maximum sentence.”
Reese sat in the courtroom visibly shaken. He rocked back and forth in his seat at the defense table and took several deep breaths before taking the stand.
Finally, Unglesby called Reese to the stand and asked what it was that he wanted to say.
Between breathless sobs and in a near whisper Trevor said, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ve tried to understand how bad I hurt you all these years. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. He didn’t deserve this. He was innocent. He didn’t do anything to me. I hurt you so bad and I’m so sorry. I was all twisted up inside and crazy. I was miserable all the time. I didn’t feel like I could do anything. I didn’t have a reason to do anything. I hated myself. There was nothing good about me. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I dreaded trying to communicate. I wanted so bad to just have friends but I couldn’t do it. I’d just walk around by myself and I thought if people saw me they’d think I was going to meet someone. No one ever noticed I was alone.”
Unglesby asked Trevor why he didn’t talk to anyone about how he was feeling.
“I didn’t want anyone to know the thoughts that were in my head. They’d hate me if they knew the thoughts in my head, but… now you all know and now you do all hate me,” said Reese.
“I didn’t have any right to feel so bad. That doesn’t make up for killing a little boy. I tried to keep my feelings in my head and just wait for them to go away,” said Reese.
“I’d watch movies or do extra credit to distract myself. I watched so many movies about murder and I felt similarities with the murderers. I just knew that had to be significant. I really felt like I was that kind of person. They all felt how I felt. I thought I had to be like them to feel successful. The only thing they did that I didn’t do was kill people. My only thought all the time was that I had to kill somebody. It doesn’t make sense, I know. I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t breathe if I didn’t do it. It was like it was meant to be. Fated. You don’t get to choose what kind of person you are. I wouldn’t have these kinds of thoughts if I weren’t really this kind of person,” said Reese.
“The second it happened, I wanted to take it back. I know I’m not a serial killer. I know I’m not really that kind of person. I know myself better now. I couldn’t do it again. I can’t hurt another family. I can’t hurt my family again,” said Reese.
“I’d kill myself to bring him back. I wish I were dead. Now I pray a lot. I just want to start my time and try to be normal. Sane. I don’t know what to do now. It’s too much. It’s too big. It’s twisted up and crazy. I don’t know how I could do this. It wasn’t me. I killed your son and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” said Reese.
Jackson’s grandmother, who was sitting in a full row of family members, blurted out, “Look at us when you speak!”
Unglesby directed Reese to look at the Attuso family.
Reese looked at the family and said, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’d do anything to take it back.”
He looked down at his feet and continued, “I hope God helps you somehow because there is nothing more I can do. The only thing that makes it better is knowing that he is in heaven. I should be in hell.”
Unglesby asked Reese if he could ever be a normal citizen again.
“I hope so, but I don’t know if I deserve to be. I should have just killed myself before I hurt him. I don’t know if I have anything that I could contribute [to society] I just know I want to be better. I just want to be a good Christian where I can face God,” said Reese.
D’Aquilla asked Reese what would happen if he ever got out.
“I don’t want to get out until I go to hell,” said Reese.
D’Aquilla said, “You can save us all some time by just saying you want to go to jail for the rest of your life,” but the Judge quickly accepted Unglesby’s objection.
After a pause, D’Aquilla asked Reese what happened that day.
Reese said, “I attacked him because he was weaker than me. I’m a weak person. I cut up both my knees while I was kneeling over him because he was fighting so hard. I took Jackson’s choices away. I’m ashamed. I stood by the trail and just waited for him to go by. Nothing was going through my mind… it was just actions.”
“I told the doctors and the police the truth about what I was feeling at the time, but that’s not how I feel anymore. It changes. The truth changes,” said Reese.
Wayne stood up and said, “LOOK AT ME BOY!”
Reese gave the family a terrified glance as he walked from the witness stand back to the defense table.
Unglesby then called Reese’s father, Derek, to the stand and asked him what he would like to say.
“What happened was wrong. The death of an innocent child was senseless. For that wrong, my family is sorry for all the pain and suffering it caused. I wish I had an answer to make sense of all of this, but I don’t. That day is just so bizarre and unreal. As a father, it’s my responsibility to raise my son. He’s still my boy. I failed my son. Everyone tells me that Trevor did this in spite of the way I raised him, not because of it. I understand that, but the guilt and shame will never go away,” said Derek.
“Wayne, I accept your curse. I’m the dad. He’s my son. It’s my responsibility. We are so ashamed,” he said.
Derek said, “We really expected to be treated as pariahs, outcasts, monsters, and horrible parents, but we weren’t. That’s a sign that there is still hope and that the world is a good place. It’s not fair for me to ask, but I am asking for just a little bit of hope. I don’t want this to be the last chapter in Trevor’s life. Who knows how he will change and what he will learn over the next years. I don’t know what God will make of this son of mine.”
Derek ended his speech with a few words to his son. “Trevor, whatever happens and wherever you go, I’ll never abandon you. I’ll never stop loving you. I’m your dad. I’ll never give up on you or believe that your life story is over. We’ll make this life journey together wherever it goes.”
Later that day, Trevor Reese was taken to prison, where he will remain for the rest of his life. He’s not the only one who left that courtroom and went to a kind of prison. All these poor souls are living in Hell. May God have mercy on them, and bring them peace.