These are the full statements presented in open court Friday by Kelly Bullwinkle’s mother Diana Bullwinkle and by lawyer Brent F. Romney, on behalf of defendant Damien Guerrero. The defendant was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison for the shooting death of 18-year-old Kelly Bullwinkle in 2003 in San Timoteo Canyon.
Readers often get to only see the key points or summary of someone’s statement in a newspaper article. But Kelly’s death touched so many people inside and outside of the county, that the people involved should get the chance to tell their whole statement.
For full coverage of the sentencing, see the story in The Sun:
People of the State of California v. Damien Matthew Guerrero
Impact Statement: Diana D. Bullwinkle, victim’s mother
I want the Parole Board to know that Damien Guerrero is an unremorseful, deceiving murderer. He has taken the life of my little girl, Kelly Bullwinkle, with a bullet to the back of her head. He then buried her in a shallow grave, changed to clean clothes and conspired to park Kelly’s car at a mall. Afterward, he was able to see a movie and eat dinner as if nothing unusual had happened.
We have had to endure five years of court room moments and keep our silence while the defendant, entitled to his fair trial, was continually asked by the judge if time waived for his trial was “ok, for you, Mr. Guerrero?” Where were Kelly’s rights, judge and jury? In fact, in these past five years, Damien hasn’t been the only one with restrictions on his life. I too have had to put my life on hold. I have attended continuous court hearings that have resulted in delay after delay for one reason or another. I attended these hearings as Kelly’s representative and voice because as the victim, she has no voice other than her loved ones. I have planned my life and work around these hearings. In addition, there will be an on going process of finally claiming her personal possessions from authorities and coping with the aftermath of what that entails.
What kind of a coward claims a joke with a gun pointed to the back of a frightened little girl’s head? He was able to pick Kelly up and throw her in a shallow grave but, couldn’t pick her up and put her in a car to take her to the hospital a few miles down the road. He claims not to remember anything but he remembered to change his clothes and worked up an appetite trying to bury her with dirt and by placing a couch over her to further conceal his crime. He carried on with his daily life for four weeks, going to school, working, eating, sleeping, laughing, conspiring, etc… During that time we searched endlessly for Kelly, uncertain of what had happened and fearing the worst. It was the longest most fearful four weeks in my life.
After finding Kelly, he even had the audacity to masquerade as a mourner at Kelly’s visitation and memorial. In keeping with his deceiving nature, he hugged me both times offering false comfort.
I had eighteen wonderful years with Kelly for which I am thankful, but I want more. My daughter Kelly was a beautiful, giving, responsible young girl coming into her own. She was attending college, working a job, caring for our blind diabetic dog, Blaze, and caring for her horse, Banner. Kelly was a talented equestrian rider, musician, writer, athlete and loving daughter and friend to all she met. Considering all she had already accomplished in her short life, imagine what she could have accomplished had she had the full life she deserved. Now, all we can do is imagine what might have been. Damien helped end that promising life and with it, the hopes and dreams we had for her.
I ask the Parole Board to hear Kelly’s voice through our voices since she can no longer speak for herself. Please make sure this beast – (I cannot call Damien an animal because animals do not kill for fun like he and his co-conspirator did) – is never released back into society. He is a sociopath and is capable of doing this to another family by destroying their dreams and lives. No parent should ever out live their children. No parent should have to sit in a courtroom with the murderer of their child claiming innocence. No parent should fear their children’s “friends.”
This criminal has destroyed many lives and taken so much away from the world and especially from me. My loss is so immense that there are no words to describe the void in my heart. The defendant has taken laughter, dreams, hopes and plans for a future generation from my family. Without Kelly there is no future generation for our family.
Kelly was our bright shining light here on earth and now she is the brightest star in the heavens.
This murderer took the physical Kelly from me. He robbed society of a beautiful human being that was a contributor to society… not a taker. But, Damien, YOU CAN NEVER!… NEVER!… take our memories of Kelly, of her love and most of all… YOU CAN NEVER take her spirit from us.
Kelly Laurel Bullwinkle’s Mother,
Diana D. Bullwinkle
Letter to Judge Michael A. Smith from defendant Damien Matthew Guerrero
Dear Judge Smith:
I am blessed with having parents who love me and who raised me under very favorable circumstances. They continue to love me unconditionally, and for this I am very grateful. I realize, however, that I have betrayed their trust in me. I very clearly have let them down because of my conduct in this case. Although I know they continue to love me, I am sure it will take a very long time before their heartache subsides. Their heartache, I am sure, is a combination of their sadness for the terrible loss of Kelly’s life, the utter despair and loneliness her mother and loved ones continue to feel to this day, and for the path my life has taken since that evening. I deeply and humbly want to tell my parents how sorry I am for the suffering I have caused them. I can only hope that my conduct while incarcerated, will demonstrate the sincerity of the words I express through this letter at this time.
I have wanted to tell Kelly how so very sorry I am for what happened to her that night. It is obviously much too late for me to do anything in this regard, and I understand how shallow and insincere my words must sound at this time. However, if Kelly in some spiritual way does hear my words, I hope she will someday be able to forgive me for my conduct. I will live with the memory of my actions for the rest of my life, and though there are many who feel I have no remorse for what happened, they are, respectfully, simply wrong. I understand why they may feel this way, but with great respect for their feelings, I re-affirm how very, very sorry I am for my involvement in Kelly’s death. I only hope that these loved ones and friends of Kelly will someday believe I am sincere in my expressions of remorse for my actions. I realize that evidence of my sincerity will be revealed by the way I conduct my life in the future. I commit to Kelly and to her loved ones and friends I will, show through my actions, that I really am so very sorry for what I did to this so very beautiful and special young woman.
I specifically want to express my deepest feelings of sorrow to Kelly’s mother . The loss she feels because of my actions must go so deep that I can only imagine the suffering she has experienced. I accept full responsibility for what happened that evening. If there were any way I could go back in time and undo what I participated in doing, I would obviously do so. It was never my intent to cause such suffering for anyone, particularly for those who treated me with so much kindness. Even though she has every right to lash out and condemn me publicly, she has refrained from doing so. I believe she has done so, in part, out of respect for my parents and family. Certainly she understands, as only a loving parent could, that my conduct also served to “victimize” my parents and loved ones. I do not fully understand how, or why, she has acted with such grace and kindness throughout this long ordeal; I certainly do not deserve to be treated in such a way. However, I fully realize the significance of how she has conducted herself, and how it has made it easier for my family to get through this most difficult process. To Kelly’s mother, I want to publicly say not only how very, very sorry I am, but also how thankful I am that she has been able and willing to think of the heartache of others even at this most difficult time in her own life.
Finally, I very respectfully ask that Kelly, Kelly’s mother, and each of Kelly’s loved ones and friends will someday find it in their heart to forgive me. This does not mean that God will forgive me, nor does it mean that society forgives me. I must earn this redemption from God and from society through my future conduct. By finding it in their own hearts to forgive me, however, they will then be able to move forward with their own lives and find additional happiness. Certainly, Kelly would want that.
Judge Smith, I would like to express these thoughts and feelings directly to Kelly’s mother and her loved ones. I have wanted to do so for a very long time. I have been constrained from doing so, however, at the insistence of my attorneys. It is my hope that by expressing my feelings publicly to you, I will be able to convey to Kelly’s mother and loved ones in a very gentle way the depth and sincerity of my feelings. I know that words come easy. My conduct in the future will reveal and show that my feelings are sufficiently sincere and strong that they will impact how I live the rest of my life.
Thank you for allowing me to express these thoughts and feelings.
Damien Matthew Guerrero