Opinion: Grandmother of assault victim seeks justice, closure

Nadine Grinstead of Meeker thought the day was finally here. The day when she would see justice served.
But she will have to wait a little longer.
The sentencing for David Mitchum, a former Meeker resident, has been pushed back to June 4. He was scheduled to be sentenced today.
Mitchum, who at last report was living in Texas, pleaded guilty in February to an amended charge of criminal attempt to commit sexual assault on a child under the age of 15.
The victim in the case is Grinstead’s granddaughter. She was 13 at the time; an eighth-grader. Mitchum was 37.
Grinstead said sentencing was delayed in order for Mitchum to undergo psychological testing.
“One thing I did learn is that a speedy trial isn’t for the victim,” she said.
Grinstead said it has been hard not to get frustrated with the legal system.
“I’ve prayed for two years to get rid of most of my anger,” she said. “OK, God, you said vengeance is yours. If he doesn’t (receive a sentence that includes prison time), I don’t know what we will do.”
The incident took place in March 2008 at the Parker House — a boarding house — where Mitchum was living at the time. He was working at one of the gas plants, Grinstead said.
Mitchum and Grinstead’s granddaughter, who was supposedly staying at a friend’s house, were at a party together where alcohol and marijuana were involved, Grinstead said.
“I’m not sure how many girls were there,” Grinstead said. “I know there were two more, plus (Grinstead’s granddaughter) and a bunch of boys.”
Grinstead’s granddaughter, who has lived with her at times, but is now living in Grand Junction with her mother, will turn 16 in August.
Grinstead picked up her granddaughter from a friend’s house the following day.
“I knew when I picked her up there was something wrong,” Grinstead said.
But she didn’t find out about what happened at the party until later, when her granddaughter confided in her.
“She said, ‘Grandma, I’m going to tell you upfront, I lied to you about where we went,’” Grinstead said. “I told her I am so proud she was strong enough to report it.”
Grinstead said the whole ordeal has had a traumatic effect on her granddaughter.
“It’s been hard on her. She tried to kill herself in July of ‘08. She took some pills,” Grinstead said. “They found a knife in her bedroom that she had been cutting herself with. She wrote on the knife, ‘David raped me. Not going to make me his bitch.’”
Grinstead said her granddaughter contracted herpes because of the sexual contact with Mitchum.
Grinstead said she and her family are ready for closure. Both Grinstead and her granddaughter plan to make statements at Mitchum’s sentencing.
“I think that will help her, for him to hear what she has to say,” Grinstead said. “It’s not going to be finished until he’s sentenced, and for her, it won’t be finished unless he gets some prison time.”
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Kandace Griffin, formerly of Meeker, was killed in a car accident early Easter morning, along with her 13-year-old daughter, Autumn.
“She grew up here, went to school here and has a lot of good friends here,” said her uncle Irven Griffin.
Kandace’s husband and her 12-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter were hurt in the accident but the injuries were not life-threatening.
“Her husband was in a coma for a couple of days, but he finally came to and realized what was going on and found out he had lost his wife and daughter,” Irv Griffin said.
The accident occurred on Interstate 35 near Denton, Texas, outside of Dallas. Kandace and her family were returning to their home in Argyle, Texas, from a trip to California, when their vehicle was struck from behind by another vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed.
The driver of the other vehicle has been charged with two counts of murder. The other driver — a three-time convicted DWI offender — was intoxicated at the time, according to police.
“This (accident) is one of the worst due to the amount of injuries and the deaths involved, combined with the fact that speed and alcohol were involved,” a police spokesman said.
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Paula Davis, the newly elected mayor of Rangely, is no stranger to politics. Her late husband, Don Davis, was a Rio Blanco County commissioner from 1989 to 2005.
“I’ve been through elections,” said Paula Davis, who is a former school board member and served on other boards, in addition to working for the town of Rangely. “And I’ve been a precinct chairwoman, I think for 130 years, or maybe it just seems that way.”
Paula Davis felt good about her chances to get elected as Rangely’s new mayor, but she was also philosophical about it.
“I got such good feedback from the people I talked to during my campaign, I was fairly confident,” she said. “But, if I win, I win and I’ll go off and get busy. If I lose, I’ll go off and do other things.”
It sounds like she intends to get busy.
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Tim Leff of Meeker submitted the following story. His uncle, Dr. Eldon Leff, grew up in Meeker. “This is for real,” Tim said.
Dr. Eldon Leff was attacked by a wild gobbler near his home in Canon City on Easter morning. While taking a hike up the mountain road behind his house, Dr. Leff saw some wild turkeys about 200 yards in the distance. Since it was mating season for the turkeys, Dr. Leff thought it would be fun to see if he could call the gobbler away from the hens he was with at the time. Dr. Leff stroked his turkey call a few times, putting out the sound of a lonely hen. The gobbler immediately stretched out his long neck, gobbled, and then started to run toward what he thought was an amorous lady friend. Dr. Leff was wearing a red-and-black plaid jacket, white tennis shoes, a bright green hat and brown pants. No way that the turkey could have mistaken him for a hen turkey.
As the gobbler approached on a wide open road, Dr. Leff began to wave his arms and holler loudly. It did not faze the gobbler — now 20 feet away — at all. Dr. Leff threw clods of dirt at the bird but still he kept coming. Many quick kicks at the turkey slowed him down but did not completely dissuade him. He circled his prey like a wild animal. After a half dozen more clods the size of baseballs hit the gobbler, he did back off but only a few feet. One more large clod striking the turkey square in the side persuaded him to back off but he did not leave. He stood behind a large juniper tree and angrily gobbled until the doctor was at least a hundred yards away. There were not witnesses to this strange incident but Dr. Leff says it is his story and he is sticking to it.
No word yet from the turkey.
• • • • • •
Bob Tobin of Meeker came to the Herald Times office Monday and he was holding a copy of last week’s paper.
He opened it up to Page 11 and asked me if I noticed anything. I studied the page figuring there must have been a typo or some other error, but nothing registered with me.
Then, Bob pointed to the headline, which read, “Coroner: Four candidates vie for county post.” Then he pointed to the four photographs that appeared above the headline. The photos were of four children from Giant Step Preschool and Child Care Center in Rangely holding Easter eggs.
Why is it some things don’t jump out at you until AFTER the paper is printed? Then they seem obvious.
• • • • • •
Clark’s Big Burger in Meeker has closed signs on the door.
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During Saturday’s Republican County Assembly, Laura Smith told her husband, Davey, who is chairman of the local Republican Party, “Don’t get used to this Mr. Chairman stuff, ‘cause that’s gonna change when we get home.”
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I played golf for the first time this season on Sunday. Actually, I played twice.
First, a friend and I played the Rangely Golf Course. Then we hustled back and played the Meeker Golf Course.
It was a fun day and I only lost three balls, which was good for me.
• • • • • •
I don’t remember the wind blowing this much during my first two springs in Colorado. I feel like I’m back in Kansas.
Or Wyoming.

Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at jeff@theheraldtimes.com.