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Emotional Maltreatment Statutes Summary

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My Son, age 9

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Letter To Governor Bush and Politicians

On December 15, 2003 Edward Munao, of Stuart Florida was arrested. Edward Munao told our six year old son to stab and kill me his mother Jodi Walsh. Munao faces a felony charge of solicitation to commit first degree murder.

Edward Munao is currently incarcerated after violating his bond conditions in July 2004.
Munao’s criminal trial is scheduled for April 11, 2005 In Ft. Pierce, Florida.

March 24, 2005 my son was brought to Florida’s State Attorney’s office in Ft. Pierce, Florida or his testimony on our criminal case. As a victim in this case and the mother of the minor who is a witness, I am allowed under Florida law to be present during testimony, this was not the case.

My son did not want me in the room so I sat outside in the victims advocate's office.

Attorney Bakkadohl and Attorney Krausser from the state attorneys office were present and the defendant’s attorney Jerome Stone and my eight year old son as well as a video camera for the testimony.

My son was somewhat nervous, he has suffered severe emotional and mental anguish due to our situation from his father. I have stressed the importance of a minor, my son, or any other minor questioned of the dramatic impact it has on their mental state. I feel it is up to the State of Florida to provide professional psychiatric personnel standing by to talk to minor known as a victim/witness for the State after they are questioned. I know this is not “Psychology 101", which were the words used by State Attorney Tom Bakkadohl to describe my concerns of my son’s emotional needs and the importance of this testimony with a minor, my son.

Under Chapter 92 Section 92.53 Videotaping of testimony or witness under the age of 16 or person with mental retardation: describes how there is a substantial likelihood that a victim or witness who is under the age of 16 or who is a person with mental retardation as defined in
S. 393.063(42) would suffer at least moderate emotional or mental harm due to the presence of the defendant if the child or person with mental retardation is required to testify in open court,
or that such victim or witness is otherwise unavailable as defined in S90.804(1) the trial court may order the videotaping of the testimony of the victim or witness in a case, whether civil or criminal in nature, in which videotaped testimony is to be utilized at trial in lieu of trial testimony in open court.

In this case, a motion would be filed by the victim’s or witnesses attorney. The Florida State
Attorney’s office in Ft. Pierce, Florida filed a motion concerning the testimony of the minor, my son, eight years old, and the concerns of the child’s mental and emotional well-being.

The motion was heard before Judge Sweet on January 28, 2005, Friday morning.
It was signed and agreed upon in court that the defendant, Edward Munao, would not be allowed to sit in for the testimony of his son. Dr. Rifkin, psychologist, in Ft. Pierce, Florida went before Judge Sweet to give his professional opinion on the impact that this testimony will have on this minor who has been diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

A copy of this hearing is on file.

On March 24, 2005 after my son’s testimony my son was immediately released from the library at the State Attorney’s office, entered the victim advocate's office, Ann Smith to play with her large floppy stuffed elephant. My son immediately picked up the animal punching, hitting throwing it from one side of the room to another saying “how do you like that”, “I’ll kill you”, “let me get you again”, this went on for 15 minutes while victim’s advocate watched and stunned
not knowing what to do.

I was asked to step into the other office to Speak with Attorney Bakkkadohl who assured me prior to the testimony my son would not take the stand in open court during the criminal trial. I was told Attorney Stone who represents the defendant is going to call my son to the stand.

I asked what about the motion signed by Judge Sweet? Bakkadohl replied that Judge Sweet was questioning the constitutional or un constitutional right when this was signed off on this motion. Of course, as the victim and mother of the witness I began to loose faith in the Florida legal system. I was told if I do not let my son take the stand, Judge Sweet will dismiss the trail and Edward Munao will walk. I also questioned then why did we do this videotape reminding them you assured me this for trial, what about Dr. Rifkin’s recommendations to the Judge, what about my son’s emotional state? Of course, nothing matters, because it is the law anything goes and Judge’s can dismiss cases if you do not comply. I was told “”you will have to let your son testify”, according to Attorney Bakkadohl.

I left the Attorney’s office, I was upset and concerned about my son I know he was hurting;
you see a child’s emotional and mental state is different than adult and their coping skills as well.
When a minor is questioned about a traumatic event and the state provides no professional counseling after the child is brought back to post traumatic stress as a mother of the child I have concerns over my son’s emotional and mental state.

I know no one looks deep into the emotional state of how a child feels after a traumatic situation because one must obtain the information to form a trial.

My son has suffered daily and no one can take his pain away not even me his mother. Unfortunately, I have been reminded by attorney’s this case is not about how my son is feeling or he controls his anger or deals with his feelings or his outbursts, “It is not Psychology 101.”

Attorneys, judges, victim’s advocates, Department of Children and Families (DCF) , Florida Attorney General’s office all look to the lack and white laws which govern our state from the Florida State Statues to get answers and make final decisions. No one wants to hear how my son wakes up every night fearful that his mother gets killed and how he has trouble sleeping. No one wants to hear about his pain, his emotional concerns and fears. It is my job as a mother to protect my children, my life and provide the best stable environment I can to my children. Our judicial system does not help victims or witnesses who have suffered a traumatic situation it does not provide adequate professional counseling, it certainly does not look out for the best interest of minors. I know that this must change and I will petition for that change. I will protect my children and my son.

My Family will face these conditions which have lingered over us for the last year in a half in the next week prior to our criminal trial. We have encountered many obstacles from DCF, Florida State Attorney General’s office, and the Florida judicial system. At this time, I cannot discuss all the information.

As a mother and victim I feel my child’s pain and feel his frustration as well as my own. I will not allow my son who is only eight years old be interrogated, used and abused by the Florida legal system or anyone else. My son has suffered enough, as his mother I owe it to my son to let him be like every other eight year old boy. My son always asks me many questions “why this”
or “why that” pertaining to our situation of course, I still do not know why....but what I do know
that my son will not testify for the Munao trial in open court and I think any parent or adult would understand that.

I am represented by Attorney Juan Torres who practices law in Ft. Pierce, Florida.

Jodi R. Walsh

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