After that first court appearance, I never went back to the courtroom. I think of this when people say, “you’re so strong”, I was not.
I am not.
When my sister was a baby, I was about 4 years old, I remember crawling in her crib and I would place my finger right under her nose so I could make sure she was still breathing. I remember feeling so relieved when her breath would hit my fingers. We shared a room for years so this nightly ritual continued, maybe until 2nd grade. For some reason, I had thought if I could catch her not breathing then I could save her.
When I was in 5th grade, when everyone ran to be class president and promised to change the lunch menu to pizza 3 days a week, I ran so we could ensure siblings who lived together could attend the same elementary school. Christina had to go to Walbridge Elementary, while I attended Lake Elementary due to how they district distributed students. It bothered me so much. She had to be alone in school without me, what if she needed me?
Of course, I wasn’t elected class president.
I thought of these things as I wrote the sentencing letter, how I wanted to protect Christina growing up… and how all of those efforts meant nothing because in the end I could protect her. In the end, I couldn’t even read my own sentencing letter or see Amador again.
Christina was a better sister to me than I was to her. She would get left out of play time when I had friends over. She was way more outspoken than I was, so she would often be the one who stood up for me. Even if I treated her crappy earlier that day, she would welcome any attention I had to give her later – forgiving and forgetting how I treated her. If it was the other way around, I have no doubt, Christina would have read the sentencing letter to my murderer- and I’m sorry. I’m sorry to Christina, to my family and to Christina’s friends for not being strong enough to read it myself.
My letter, read by my brave and strong father, Gary Deal:
What do I say to the man who murdered my sister? How do I express the pain and tears I have felt to a courtroom of strangers, the media, and a murderer? Nothing I write in this letter will bring my sister back. Nothing I say will bring me justice. I can only ask God for the words I write to penetrate Andy’s (Joseph Amador) heart the same way the absence of Christina penetrates through mine.
Andy, there are so many things I want you to see, feel, and know so you would have a taste of what your selfishness has put me and my family through. I want you to know the pain you caused. I want you to know -you took a mommy away from her beautiful son. You took a sister away from her best friend. You took a daughter away from her parents. And you took so much more … You stole from us things, future moments, future experiences we didn’t even know we wouldn’t have- you reached through time and you stole them Andy, you stole them from ALL of us.
I want you to understand how it feels to have your heart so overwhelmed with pain that you think you will die because it hurts so much. I want you to know how it feels to see your mother plead with God to give her daughter, her baby, back. I want you to know how it feels to see your father breaking from the inside and feeling too helpless yourself to do anything for him. I want you to know how it feels to hurt even when you’re happy because you wish she was there to be happy with you- and knowing she never will be again. I want you to know how it feels to have your tears become your food and drink day and night.
I want you to know and feel, but you never will. You will never know how WE feel- you could never understand this void you left in our lives- the void, is so big, in each of our lives.
She was my sister, my best friend, my laughter, and a piece of my heart. You took what was and what will never be rightfully yours. Andy, how dare you take what was so precious to us! How dare you take our future! How dare you disrespect her and my family! How dare you plea not guilty to the charge you deserved!
Your greatest honor was my sister’s willingness to love and trust you. She was the best moment of your life and she will be the last. You will never be love and trusted again, you chose to destroy that, and you will think about this every day. And every night you will think about the pain you caused my family and me.
You have made me a colder person, Andy, and the wounds you made on my heart haven’t even begun to scar- I don’t believe they will ever heal. But though every piece of my body wants to hate you, I can’t. I can’t explain why I don’t feel hate, there could be no other explanation than God…. His love and compassion have brought me through, and HE won’t allow me to feel hate. Hate would only destroy me more and you have destroyed enough. God has been my strength and comfort and I know Christina is with Him. When she would sing her praises to Him, it would seem like angels and heaven would pause to listen to her – so, you have failed at trying to take away whatever happiness she had by taking away her life- because I know she is happier than ever- she is with our Lord and Savior.
Instead of hate, I feel pity. I pity you because of what you will soon face- a life in prison. I pity you because I feel you will pay severely for what you did. And most of all, I pity you because though you never deserved her, your life, like ours, is a life without Christina.
My family agreed to the plea bargain, 15 years to life. It broke me and I had no say, but my parents wouldn’t budge on their decision. They feared the trial, the media coverage, and the details of the trial damaging us more. My parents and the lawyers would say, “he has a life sentence”, even the newspaper headlines said “killer of Oregon girl gets a life sentence.”
“Oregon girl” – you mean my sister, a daughter, a mom – her name is Christina. The pain these journalists and news anchors cause in just a few words is something only victims of a violent crime can understand.
It wasn’t a life sentence though, it was 15 years to life… and here we are 15 years later trying to find the words for another letter, pleading with the justice system to deny parole for a murderer.
To the reader: This journal entry was written in 2018. Parole was denied for Joseph Amador for 8 more years at that time. I was not happy with this as I was hoping for the maximum denial of 10 years but we were lacking community support and social media presence, which I hope this blog will bring. I know some in victim support groups have asked how to write parole letters and what to put in them so I will try to share my last parole letter as well in an upcoming post. In 2025, we will be again requesting denial of parole and I hope the community and family of Oregon, Ohio will join me in keeping a murderer out of their hometown.