BONNERS FERRY — “Retribution is at the heart of just about all judicial systems that deal with law and order. To the extent that punishment is supposed to fit the crime, retributive justice can be distinguished from revenge in the sense that defendants are expected to give up something in return for the offenses they committed,” according to J. Hirby, in his article “Definition of Retribution in Criminal Justice.”
“On May 1, 2017, my sister Jesseka Frazer-Musson was murdered by her fiancé in Bonners Ferry Idaho,” writes Amanda Frazer, on their family’s Facebook page, Stop the Silence. “My family and our community lost a vibrant young woman, mother, daughter and so much to so many people, to a senseless act of brutality.”
On Dec. 21, Eric Dante pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of Jesseka Frazer-Musson. Dante was originally charged with first-degree murder, but accepted a plea for which he will spend at least five years in prison.
Musson’s family and many others in the community were shocked by the plea and possible sentence. Although the sentencing will not take place until March 8, which leaves the outcome as of yet unknown, Musson’s family is taking action, concerned that the light sentence may be due to it being a domestic violence type of case.
“They are not being treated like a typical murder would be and I’m not sure why,” said Musson’s sister, Shauna Carr. “It’s taking a life and no matter what, it should be punishable by more than five years … more than 10 years. We are just very frustrated.”
The family started the organization, Stop The Silence, to help others recognize the signs of domestic violence.
“We have been working through this unimaginable traumatic grieving process and have decided we need to jump into action to help others by raising funds for local non-profit organizations who provide support and work directly with people affected by domestic violence,” wrote Frazer on the Stop the Silence Facebook page.
“Our family wanted to make an impact, to make a difference in domestic violence awareness as a result of the death of my sister, Jesseka,” said Carr. “We wanted to do something to make a positive impact.”
In October, for domestic violence awareness month, the family put together a music fundraiser in Spokane, raising $14,000 for the YWCA Spokane, NAOMI Community, and Safe Passage Violence Prevention Center.
“Our family is a very musical family,” said Carr. “My mom sang all of her life, so we thought — because music has been how our family has been able to heal, music has brought so much into our lives — that this is a way that we can move forward and start making a difference.”
The family’s concern has led them to also arrange a letter-writing campaign, as well as a rally. The plea deal specifies the State will agree to second-degree murder with five years fixed and an open indeterminate time. The actual sentencing will be up to the judge, and the family — along with many in the community — would like to have their voices heard.
“When we found out that they were only offering five years, we about fell over,” said Carr. “I just couldn’t even believe that.”
The letter writing has already begun with hundreds of people already volunteering to write a letter of their own. They will be holding an official Letter Campaign on Feb. 16, from 4-6 p.m. at the University of Idaho extension annex building located at 6447 Kootenai St.
“I don’t know if writing all these letters is going to make a difference, but it has to make some sort of impact,” said Carr. “If people are sending the letters to me, I’m putting them in a purple envelope for domestic violence awareness. These letters are crossing the prosecutor and the judges desk. It’s going to be hard to ignore all of that, visually. It will make an impact … I hope.”
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tevis Hull encouraged the family to write the letters.
“We have advised them that they can tell the court whatever they want,” said Hull.
Hull explained that the indeterminate time of the sentence is open, meaning that it can be set at different lengths, including life in prison. The five year determinate time means that after five years served, Dante would be eligible for parole.
There are many factors that would be considered by the parole commision before granting Dante parole, so he is not guaranteed to be back on the street after the five years.
Hull also explained that they had enough evidence for a solid second-degree murder, but only some elements of first-degree murder. They must also weigh this case against similar cases in the county and the sentences that were given in those.
Musson’s family is holding a rally at the Boundary County Fairgrounds on March 3, starting at 11 a.m.
“I just thought that we can’t just sit here, silent, and not do anything about this,” said Carr.
Their fight is not just about their sister anymore. They plan to speak and share Jesseka’s story as well as other domestic violence survivors stories, or those of their families.
“Our other goal now, as we are seeing more cases, and obviously with this case, is to help change the laws, so there are more rights for families and for victims, so that domestic violence perpetrators are not getting these crazy sentences for killing people that they supposedly love,” explained Carr.
“We will never be able to see my sister again. My sister will never be able to celebrate anything again. She will never be able to see her children. My mom has to live the remainder of her life knowing that her daughter was shot in the face and murdered by someone who we trusted,” said Carr.
“We just want people to know that we think that it is an injustice,” said Carr. “Hopefully we can make an impact and change the lives for other people coming down the road, so that those families don’t have to go through all of this, that they can just know that their justice is going to be served and a real sentence is going to be handed over to these kind of perpetrators.”
Dante’s sentencing will take place on March 8 at 10 a.m. at the Boundary County Courthouse.
For more information about Stop the Silence: www.facebook.com/stopthesilencefordomesticviolence