(The following is a letter written by former Concord Police Chief Merl Hamilton, on the 2010 death of his daughter, Valerie. Michael Harvey plead guilty in her death on June 8, 2012.)
This letter represents the thoughts and feelings the family of Valerie Grace Hamilton would like conveyed to the Court. Her family includes those related by blood and those related by how she lived her life. I have asked for this letter to be read as I am not certain I could present it myself and maintain the respect rightly demanded by this Court.
On July 03, 1987 I held my new born daughter in my hands and promised her many things. One of the things I promised is that I would protect her forever. On September 15, 2010 another man held in his hands the ability to save my daughter in her time of need. Mr. Harvey denied his human responsibility and Val was lost.
Trying to describe what was lost forever that night is impossible to clearly put in to words. Her mother lost something that only someone who gave birth to a child can understand. It's impossible for any of the rest of us to feel that loss the same as my wife. I can see it there daily when the tears come. Val's relationship with my wife has been replaced by an ever present sense of anguish. My daughter lost her partner. The only one she could truly share all of her secrets with. The only person she could feel complete with as she faces life's challenges.
Val's paternal grandmother suffered a stroke prior to Val's death, but maintained her other faculties. She died last year suffering the death of another of her grandchildren in silence. Her maternal grandparents are still able to express their sorrow. They are haunted by not just the loss of a grandchild but the pain they see in their daughter. Her aunts, uncles and cousins grasp for ways to fill the void in our family. Her life time best friend and her newer best friends have seen their young lives changed forever.
I can explain to no one my own lose. Since her birth, Val's life was mine and my life was hers. We shared every success and ever failure together. Before she died, I often told Val I was proud of her. I did not completely feel that pride until she died and I heard from the young people whose life she had touched. Valerie was loving, compassionate and considerate of everyone she met no matter their motives. I will forever be thankful that the last words Val and I spoke to each were "I love you." I thank God everyday she will forever be my daughter.
Valerie was always accountable for her mistakes. She had regret and sorrow for the mistakes she made. As her father, I also take responsibility for her mistakes. Hopefully, in the most personal part of himself, Mr. Harvey will take responsibility for the role he played in her death.
Valerie maintained her strong Christian beliefs though good times and bad as have the rest of her family. Those beliefs end this portion of my families experience with Val with us knowing Val is the winner and we are the losers.