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Don't punish

To the Editor:

I am a friend of Steve Fennell and his family. I was a friend before this terrible accident and I will remain a friend.

If I use the letters to the editor and editorials printed in the Grosse Pointe News, I could come to the conclusion that there is more outrage and grief for the dead animals than there is for the young people who died in that terrible auto accident in Grosse Pointe Woods.

According to the editorial printed in the March 28 issue of the Grosse Pointe News, "50 days in prison for each horse?," and the drawing of the cartoonist, Steve received a "slap on the wrist."

I think if you or your cartoonist were to spend just one week in a Wayne County jail and let them know you were from Grosse Pointe, you would redefine your definitions of slap on the wrist and "torture."

The March 28 Grosse Pointe News article "Fennell guilty of animal cruelty, innocent of arson" stated Fennell threw a firework into the barn. According to trial transcripts, that is a misstatement of the truth. The fact is that he lobbed a fire-work over a fence and it hit the outside of the barn. This did cause the barn to catch on fire and resulted in the deaths of 19 animals.

I also had lost pets in a fire that destroyed my home and all its belongings. I know exactly how the owners of the horses feel. This I am extremely sorry about and I am hoping that all recover from this terrible event.

What I don't understand are statements like those printed in the April 18 issue of the Grosse Pointe News, "Woods man gets 1 year in horse deaths," that wish shame on Steve's family. What did they do except defend their son? Should we abandon our sons and daughters in times like these to avoid shame? If anyone should feel shame it should be the ones that named the man who was described as heroic the night of the fire, for being negligent in his duties. Anybody who allows their insurance company to sue a man who risked his life to save their pets should feel shame.

So now Steve is in jail for one year without a chance for early release. Does anybody know what that means? That means that if the jail becomes overcrowded and they have to make room for new prisoners they will release thieves, drug dealers and other criminals into our community before they will release Steve. I have talked to many law enforcement friends and they have all said the same thing. The victims of this fire were from Grosse Pointe, and that is the reason there is any jail time. They feel as I do. Steve should be out working to repay his debt to the victims of this terrible accident.

If Steve was supposed to know that the barn was a fire waiting to happen, why didn't the people who run the barn know? Steve didn't know there was kerosene kept in the barn. He didn't know the age of the barn. He didn't know the barn was going to kill any animals.

Please don't punish his family for something they didn't do. Please don't punish them for loving their son unconditionally.

Richard Schroeder

Richard Schroede
April 25, 2002

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