Deadly Consequences: Marc, Donna, Loni

Attempted Murder

"On April 16, 2004, I felt a slam directly to my chest while I was asleep," Marc remembers. "I knew I'd been stabbed."

"I didn't know what was happening. I thought there was somebody in the house to rob us," Donna says.

"I turned on the light, and my wife said, ‘Oh, my God, that's Kevin,'" Marc says. Kevin is their daughter, Jessica's, boyfriend.

"I thought that he had hurt Jessica, because he was at her bedroom," Donna says.

[AD]Police took Jessica into custody and eventually found Kevin too. The next morning, Marc and Donna were told that their daughter planned their murders with her boyfriend.

"I believe it was Kevin who pushed her into this," Marc says. "I know that Jessica was just implicated into this. They found Jessica guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. My daughter was sentenced to 25 years to life. I was devastated. I thought I was more victimized by the court system, the unfairness of the sentencing, than the actual crime itself."

"The question that I would like to ask Dr. Phil is how we would be able to get our daughter back," Donna says tearfully.

Dr. Phil tells Marc and Donna, "I'm so glad that you survived this. And you since discovered that he had been hiding in the house for an hour?"

"Yes. The thought that he was there, and Jessica knew he was there, it really upsets me," Donna says.

"So, she let him in."

"Yes, she did."

Marc explains how he survived the attack.

 

Amy, a Dr. Phil producer, spoke with Jessica over the phone from prison. Jessica gave permission to record the conversation.

Donna and Marc react to what their daughter has to say.

 

Jessica and Kevin are both in prison. Jessica was found guilty of attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. She was sentenced to 25 years to life and will be eligible for parole in 2025. Kevin was found guilty of second-degree attempted murder and sentenced to 26 years to life.

"Would you feel safe if she was in your home again?" Dr. Phil asks.

[AD]"Absolutely," Donna says.

"Yes," Marc says.

They say they've forgiven their daughter.

"As a parent, I get that, but you also have to be realistic," Dr. Phil cautions them. "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If she was swayed by someone before to take such a destructive and self-destructive route, then she could be vulnerable to that again."

"I'm hoping that what she's had to experience, being without us, and being where she's at, is enough deterrent for that to never happen again," Donna says.

Dr. Phil turns to former prosecutor and legal analyst Loni Coombs. "Particularly since she confessed under oath, on the witness stand, on trial, in front of the jury, the options are really narrowed," he says.

Loni agrees. "There is the appeals process and there are a number of different levels of appeals that you can try, and they take years to do," she says. "But like you pointed out, it's very hard to overcome, essentially, a confession in front of the jury. The likelihood of her getting out anytime earlier than what she's already been sentenced to, I would say, is almost impossible."

Marc says no one considered speaking to them about it and taking into account their feelings on the case. They spent 30 months trying to negotiate with the district attorney's office but got nowhere.

"I know this isn't what you want to hear, but you understand the district attorney represents the people," Dr. Phil says. "We are the people, so their accountability is to the people in society, and they ask, ‘Is it prudent for us to take this person and put her back among you?' Y'all may have forgiven her, and you may want to take her back in and protect her, but they have to ask, ‘Are we willing to put this person out among you and then be held accountable for that?'"

"It was a very strong case," Loni says. "And the evidence showed that their daughter was culpable and was part of the planning."

[AD]"We're not saying that she's not deserving of some sentence," Marc says. "What we're saying is we don't feel that she's deserving of the maximum sentence of 25 to life."

Dr. Phil explains the best they may be able to do is nurture their relationship with her while she's incarcerated. "Give her that anchor in life so she knows there are people who forgive her, and love her and keep her moving along in this process," he says.

"And we do," Donna says.