Dionne Williams would have celebrated her son Jauwan Holmes' 20th birthday this month, but instead of hugs she'll have only memories to cling to.
"June is just hard," said Williams. "I'm always expecting him to still come through the door."
Williams didn't expect the involuntary manslaughter indictments for the four men she blames for her son and Marvell Edmondson's deaths.
"This was a surprise yesterday," she said.
Chesterfield police say Charles Zollicoffer, James Mackey and VSU students Eriq Benson and Corey Baytop told Jauwan, Marvell and five other VSU freshmen to walk through the Appomatox River in April. The swollen river claimed the two Hampton Roads teens' lives.
It was initiation for the group Men of Honor, an organization Jauwan and Marvell thought was a campus organization.
"If only we had known, we would not be here today," Williams said.
Police charged the men with misdemeanor hazing for the five men that survived, but a grand jury indicted each of the men with two counts of felony involuntary manslaughter. It carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. The possibility of a stiffer penalty offers a bit of hope to Williams.
"It helps us to understand and to know that we're moving in the right direction," said Williams. "Regardless of what the outcome is, complete peace would be if our children were still here, but they're not."
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