Written by Ron Lemmon, Member of Bethany UMC. Delivered to Circuit Court Judge Celeste Bell on 10/7/2019 prior to sentencing. Shared here with our community who lifted Ron up in prayer and continues to support him after the traumatic attack.
Good Morning Your Honor,
I want to express my sincere gratitude for this opportunity to address You. This statement is made prior to Your sentencing of Garrett Matthew Summerfield after his plea of guilty on two felonies that he committed against me on February 5th of this year.
First I would like to give you a brief personal history so that you may understand the impact this crime has had on me. Born and raised in the north end of Flint Beecher. As a high school sophomore I met the most precious BLESSING of my life, my beloved wife, Nonie. We dated exclusively for seven years until I graduated from Spring Arbor College and we married in 1977 choosing to continue to live in the Flint Beecher area. So we have been married 42 years but together for 49. Nonie and I have spent our lives serving God. HE has Blessed US with three amazing children through the adoption process! Now as Loving Adults they are equally saddened by the attack against their Papa. We want Garrett and his family to know that from the moment the attack occurred and the police identified him we began praying for him and were joined by our entire Church Family at Bethany United Methodist Church in Clio. There is NOTHING more POWERFUL than a Family of God praying for Someone. Mountains are moved and Souls are Saved!!
I went to work as a social worker for the State of Michigan Department of Social Services at the Regional Detention Center where ironically Garrett was housed for over six months. I spent eight years there working as a Case Manager before transferring to Bay County DHS as a Children’s Protective Services Worker. Two years later I transferred to Adult Services which included Adult Protective Services. Twenty years later I was promoted to Supervisor of Adult Services for all of Bay County and maintained that position for ten years more until retiring with 40 years of State Service. Through the Spirit of God I have always been lead to serve a often marginalized and ignored population. However, I eventually developed a passion especially for vulnerable senior Adults in our communities. Scientists report the fastest growing population today is SENIORS over the age of 60 and predict that by the year 2020 the world’s population will shift so that Seniors are more than 50% of the population! Five years prior to my retirement I was successful with the assistance of Sheriff Robert Pickell in establishing an Elder Abuse Task Force in Bay County that was awarded a Federal grant and continues today.
The significance of this personal biography is to emphasize that I believe on February the fifth I became a victim of a heinous elder abuse crime. It is imperative that the sentence You hand down today sends a very strong message not only to Garrett but our Community as well regarding the importance of Seniors and the dedication that Our justice system is committed to in Protecting Them.
I want Garrett to know that it has only been my belief in the salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ that I can proclaim that as I am FORGIVEN then I FORGIVE You Garrett. The rest of my life and my beloved’s we will pray for Garrett. We understand that people who have been wounded often grow up wounding others. Our prayers include Garrett and all of his family that wounds may be healed which results in forgiveness given freely.
Having been given this opportunity to address Garrett has been VERY beneficial for me. However it is still a concern that he does not understand the gravity of what he did to me that fateful morning. Garrett, your attack on me has altered me and my family FOREVER. Can You even begin to imagine what my wonderful wife felt and experienced that morning when I had to turn on the bedroom lights where she was still sleeping saying, “Honey be prepared I have just been attacked at Kroger’s and my face is badly beaten”! The horror in her eyes and the immediate flood of tears will be a memory that I will carry for the rest of my life. And later to receive the devastating news that as a result of Your attack I had suffered a stroke in my right eye which has left me partially blinded with no expectation of it being restored. So everyday of my life I sruggle to see all of God’s glorious world but because of Your actions there is now a missing part. There is also the on-going PTSD. It will arise at the oddest times. A loud bang or argument, angry voices, anything violent can trigger the dark memories of You punching me and slamming me against the door of my Ford Escape while yelling things like “stupid old man” all this continues to haunt me. I am firmly convinced that if God had not been present that morning keeping me calm and focused so I could concentrate on pulling myself back into the vehicle and successfully driving off You would have not stopped beating me until I was dead. It is only by God’s love that I can forgive You. . . a gift taht I freely give to You. It is now Your responsibility to accept today’s sentence as the first step towards You making amends. God expects the forgiveness that has been given to You through the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, is now Yours to share with others including the abusers in Your Life. You are expected to Pass It On!!
Judge Bell I will forever be grateful for this opportunity to address You God Bless You in this immensely difficult job before You. The Holy Spirit has assured me that whatever You decide today will be RIGHT for Garrett, MYSELF and Our Community.
God Bless Us All!!!