Florida vs Wade: Rachel Wade Found Guilty
Guilty of 2nd Degree Murder
On September 3, 2010 Rachel Wade is scheduled to receive her prison sentence after being found guilty of 2nd Degree Murder. Minimum sentence for this 20 year old girl is 20.5 years in prison. Ms.Wade, who was 19 at the time of the incident, claimed self defense in the stabbing death of 18 year old Sarah Ludemann on April 15, 2009. The two girls had been rivals for the affections of Joshua Camacho, who was 20 at the time, over an extended period before the stabbing incident.
During the trial, which was aired live on In Session on TruTv, voice mails that had been saved on Sarah Ludemann’s phone were played for the jury. Voice Mails left by Rachel Wade containing foul language and threats again Ms. Ludemann. Ms. Wade had not saved any emails or voice mails left for her by Ms. Ludemann so the jury of 5 men and 1 woman had only heard the venom from one side of the rivalry.
Ms. Wade cried off and on throughout the trial and especially during her testimony when explaining why she had taken a kitchen knife to a friend’s house for protection and how the stabbing had occurred. As expected, Ms. Ludemann’s friends gave testimony against Ms. Wade and vice versa.
The main problems with Ms. Wade’s self defense plea were that she had brought the knife with her as a show of force, that she met Ms. Ludemann in the street for the confrontation and the recorded voice mail where she actually used the threat ‘murder you’ in the message.
Many people are of the opinion that Ms. Wade should serve some jail time for her actions; but feel that 20.5 years as a minimum with the possibility of a life sentence as maximum Is extreme. If the defense had been able to show that the threats and harassment were happening on both sides they may have been in a better position to prove self defense. If the defense had been able to introduce the police reports that had been filed throughout the rivalry of harassment on both sides; that may have also made a difference.
The defense also felt that a different jury may have come back with another verdict. The jury of 5 men and 1 woman reportedly had no members in the age range of the defendant or the victim. Although the voice mails that were played for the jury over and over were full of profanity, the defense claims that kids talk like that. An older jury may have been more shocked or put off than a jury of her peers might have been.
Some people were very shocked that 2 girls would have a rivalry over a boy to the point that one would kill the other; especially over a boy who wasn’t involved exclusively with either of them and who had a child with a third woman, Erin Slothower. Mr. Camacho referred to his relationship with the young women as a ‘friends with benefits’ situation.
Ms. Ludemann’s family lost an 18 year old girl who had her whole life ahead of her and Ms. Wade’s family will spend at least the next 20 years visiting her behind bars.
Learning From Tragedy
The story of these two young women is very tragic. Please don’t misunderstand my comments; I think Ms. Wade should have some form of punishment for taking a life. I just don’t believe everything was as one sided as it appeared in the courtroom. The trouble between these young women had been going on for many months before the final confrontation.
Both women were in the wrong with the harassment and threats of violence that went on for months before the fight that ended Ms. Ludemann's life. Something should have been done to end their rivalry long before it escalated into this kind of senseless violence. The responsibility for that should rest on the shoulders of Mr. Camacho. From what has been reported, he encouraged the girls to fight for him and kept the rivalry going.
Ms. Ludemann did seek out Ms. Wade for a confrontation on the night she died. Ms. Wade didn’t attempt to avoid the confrontation. Both young women were responsible for the events that night. As horrible as it is that one of the women died, I do think without some type of intervention that this type of violence was inevitable.
Ms. Wade should spend some time in jail but I don’t feel that 20.5 years will do anything to rehabilitate her into a productive member of society. If the sentencing were in my hands, I would sentence her to 5 years in prison where she would receive counseling to understand what happened and why it happened. Before her release, I would require her to earn a college degree that would allow her to find employment. Following her time in jail, I would put her on probation for 10 years. One of the conditions of her probation would be to speak to teen girls who are at risk; girls who may have problems in school with fighting or antisocial behavior.
Young men and women need to be taught respect for themselves and each other. Name calling and threats of violence only aggravate an already tense situation. At one time, bullying and harassment were not taken as a serious issues by authorities and shrugged off as kids being kids. Those days are long over. Often, bullying and harassment now lead to violence and sometimes murder. From this tragedy there are lessons that may help keep other young people from ending up dead or in prison.
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