Colorado

Jul 1, 2014 12:35 AM by Kelsey Kennedy

Family of Victims at Odds over Guilty Plea

It was an emotional day in a Fremont County courtroom for the family of Mandy Folsom and her two young children that were killed in cold blood in March. The man accused of their murder, plead guilty to all 36 counts, including murder.

The guilty plea means Jaacob Van Winkle faces multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole, instead of the death penalty. That leaves the family of the victims at odds about whether justice has been served.

"I respectfully disagree with the outcome," says Folsom's brother, Danny Stotler. "I feel like the death penalty was warranted, But I also agree with my mother, that it
would allow healing, it will allow time, but i don't believe it allows for justice."

He and Jim Stotler, Folsom's Father believe Van Winkle should have been put to death. They say that Colorado politics get in the way, making even a death penalty sentence far from guaranteed."

"I have to agree with the judge and the DA on it, that probably up to twenty years for this to happen, if it did happen, it's not worth pursuing," he says. "Basically, the death penalty has been eliminated by some politicians, even though the people have
voted it in."

Folsom's mother, Dawn Wassel agrees the death penalty would have been justifiable. But she says fighting for it would have been unrealistic. She's opting to begin the healing process instead.

"Maybe we can start moving on with our lives, however we're going to be able to figure out how to do that without them," she says.

It's likely Folsom's surviving daughter would have been called to the witness stand, had the case gone to trial.

"That's not something I want to put her through," says Wassel. "I don't want to
put her on that witness stand to face him. She is beautiful, she is strong, she is a survivor, and she needs to try to move on."

For now, they'll all have to take comfort in knowing Van Winkle will spend the rest of his days behind bars.

"It split our family so to speak," says Stotler. "But we all respect each other
wholeheartedly in this decision."

Van Winkle's sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 29th. According to the plea deal, he'll serve the rest of his life for the first fourteen counts. He could face another nearly 600 years for the remaining twenty-two counts.

 

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