When someone is convicted of a serious crime and sentenced to prison, the impression is that everything is over. The person accused of the crime has been brought to justice, and the victims can go on with their lives.
But that's not the case.
For one Fort Dodge family, the chance a convicted killer could be set free has inspired them to launch a Facebook campaign to ensure that killer stays in prison.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Linda Goodno, left, and her daughter Danielle Carlson pose at the grave of Bryan Hanson in Corpus Christi Cemetery Thursday afternoon.
Their loved one, Bryan Hansen, 27, was shot and killed in his apartment at 1416 1/2 Fifth Ave. S. on Feb. 1, 2004.
Troy T. Lee, 39, was sentenced to 30 years at North Central Correctional Facility in Rockwell City after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter and first-degree robbery.
When Hansen's family learned on Saturday that Lee will be up for parole next month, they knew this was the time to talk about the impact his death had on them.
"At his trial, we weren't allowed to testify about instances we witnessed involving Troy's behavior because we were too biased," Hansen's sister, Danielle Carlson, of Fort Dodge, said. "We weren't allowed to let our voices be heard, and I feel this is now our time to be able to do that."
Lee was originally charged with first-degree murder in Hansen's death, but the late Judge Allan Goode instead convicted him of involuntary manslaughter during a bench trial.
At next month's parole hearing, the only people who will be allowed to speak are Carlson and her parents because they are registered victims.
That hearing will be held on Aug. 16.
Carlson said anyone is allowed to write letters to the parole board, which will read and consider those letters when making its decision.
Knowing this, Carlson and her mother, Linda Goodno, started a campaign on Facebook aimed at getting people to write letters in support of Hansen.
"We're hoping that even though people can't speak at the hearing, a lot of people will come to show their support," Carlson said. "I wanted to get as much information out there so we could reach as many people as we could that knew Bryan."
People who knew Lee and witnessed him being violent are also asked to send their letters to the parole board, she added.
"We're hoping our family and friends that have witnessed this will write statements to the parole board so they can hear these things," Carlson said. "The more letters we can get mailed in support of keeping him in jail the better."
Goodno said the family has received a lot of positive feedback from the Facebook postings.
"I was so pleased at how quickly people started commenting and supporting us," she said.
Although the parole board meets in Des Moines, Carlson said they'll be able to attend the hearing from Fort Dodge via a video link. The hearing will be open to the public, said Goodno, and even though only Hansen's family will be allowed to speak, they've devised a way others in attendance can have a "voice."
"Anybody who comes to the hearing will get an 8-by-10 photo of Bryan," she said. "That way when the parole board sees the audience, wherever they look they can see a photo of Bryan."
Both Carlson and Goodno said Hansen's murder had an impact on their family that continues to be felt today.
"It tore us apart," Goodno said. "Not just the immediate family, but the extended family too."
Carlson described her brother as "the glue that held us together."
"He really was," Goodno added. "I've said that many times."
Carlson said the family's goal in getting people to send letters is about justice.
"He needs to serve his time for the crimes he committed," she said. "Even though we feel that what he got isn't near enough, this is about justice for Bryan. We don't want people to forget what happened."
Goodno agreed with her daughter.
"It's time for justice for the victim and his family and friends," she said. "We're the ones who are serving the life sentence."