Statement by 3rd District Judge Robert K. Hilder:
It is a judge's worst nightmare that his or her actions may lead to unforeseen and tragic human consequences. The death of Paul Wayment is such a tragedy. In most cases, judges may not comment on the cases they handle. The usual prohibitions do not apply in this case, and as hard as it is for me to contemplate any contribution of mine to Mr. Wayment's death, his family and the public have a right to know how I feel as a person and as a judge.
As Paul Wayment's fellow man, I am devastated, I hurt deeply for Mr. Wayment and those who love him. As a father of numerous sons and one daughter, I empathized deeply with Mr. Wayment in his loss of Gage. Having suffered through my father's suicide over 20 years ago, I know the survivors' anguish and I pass no judgment on Mr. Wayment's deeply personal final choice.
As a judge, however, my sworn duty is to all who appear before me; not just the state, not just the defendant, and not just the victim. The reasons for my decision were carefully considered over many days, and I stated those reasons as clearly and as fully as I could from the bench. A record of my reasoning is available. If the jail sentence I imposed was a factor, large or small, in Mr. Wayment's decision, I regret that result with all my heart, but I cannot change my decision. Even in retrospect, I had no information on the day of his sentencing that would have caused me to make a different decision.
I do not know how I could more conscientiously discharge my judicial responsibility than I have over the past six years, or how I could more fully consider the people who appear in front of me as flesh and blood individuals, but for the rest of my career I will remember Paul Wayment and try to never lose sight of the human consequences as I discharge my responsibilities.