Parents hope to make difference at sentencing
Ligia and Steven Fein are the kind of parents who saved every scrap of information about their daughter Tracy – from her birth certificate and the parking lot stub from the hospital where she was born Aug. 21, 1983, to condolences they received after she was killed in a traffic accident in August.
On Tuesday morning, the Feins of Simi Valley, Calif., will try to bring Tracy to life for a Douglas County courtroom of strangers and the young man they hold responsible for her Aug. 27 death so far from home.
They filled a 1-inch loose-leaf binder with pictures and mementos of their beloved daughter’s brief life which they have submitted as a victim’s impact statement.
Copies of the binders were sent by Federal Express to Judge David Gamble and other principles involved in making a sentencing recommendation.
The notebook includes a copy of the obstetrician’s bill and a congratulatory card from the staff at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center dated the day Tracy was born.
There are dozens of photographs: Tracy with her little sister Jennifer, Tracy’s first day of kindergarten, Tracy at Disneyland, on vacation, learning to swim, at her high school graduation, the day she earned her vocational nursing cap.
A portrait of Tracy with a red flower tucked in her long dark hair graces the cover.
“She always wore a flower in her hair. I always told her she makes the flower look beautiful,” Ligia Fein said.
Tracy, who had just celebrated her 22nd birthday, was a passenger in her own car driven by Trevor Clark, 23.
The young couple was on their way to the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert when the vehicle drifted off the roadway at 11:45 p.m. on Highway 395 near Ray May Way south of Gardnerville, about 450 miles from home.
Tracy was pronounced dead at the scene; Clark suffered a head injury.
Clark pleaded no contest to driving with a prohibited amount of controlled substance in his blood causing death. He has been in Douglas County Jail on $50,000 bail.
At his arraignment Nov. 1, Clark said he must atone for Tracy’s death.
He said the couple had smoked marijuana and taken Ecstasy prior to their departure for the counterculture festival.
Tracy’s parents know she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
“I was appalled when I learned she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt,” her mother said. “That is something we cannot for all of our lives understand. She must have been very tired.”
Investigators found a digital camera in the vehicle that they said contained photos of Fein and Clark smoking marijuana.
Ligia Fein said she hasn’t seen the pictures.
“I think our main purpose is there is such a wholesome life that was taken away,” Ligia Fein said. “To get behind the wheel and drive anywhere with drugs in his system is so disrespectful. It’s a slap in the face of the citizens of Nevada to say, ‘I can drive in Nevada and be as high as I want to.’ There is no reverence for life.”
The Feins are concerned that although Clark faces up to 20 years in prison, the minimum is four years.
Prosecutor Kris Brown said under the plea agreement with Clark, she is free to argue for the maximum.
Based on the facts of the case, Brown said the range of the sentence was appropriate.
She also said the recommendation was discussed with the Feins before the agreement was reached.
“At the time, they agreed with the recommendation or at least seemed to understood the reasoning behind it,” Brown said.
The Feins say they think the law is too lenient.
“We started going to these support groups, meeting with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and were amazed at the number of parents who have lost their children to drunk driving,” Ligia Fein said.
It is up to Gamble to decide the sentence and the Feins hope their campaign on behalf of Tracy will have an impact.
The Feins conducted their own background checks on Clark. Their package includes photos they say show Clark ingesting marijuana and nitrous oxide. They claim he had three arrests in August for driving under the influence.
Steven Fein created a Web site for Tracy that he said has had hundreds of hits from around the world.
Clark’s lawyer, Terri Roeser, declined to comment on the Feins’ allegations. She said her client had received his own letters of support and his father was expected to attend the sentencing.
The binder the Feins prepared for the judge includes letters from them, Tracy’s sister Jennifer and her grandmothers.
The “victim’s statement” begins with Tracy’s birth certificate. It includes three pages of pictures of Tracy at various stages of her life. There are copies of her vocational nursing diploma and school awards.
There is a copy of her death certificate – No. 321658 issued Sept. 1 by the state of Nevada – that lists the cause as trauma to her cervical spine with associated asphyxia and blunt force automobile trauma.
The Feins included sympathy cards and messages from friends and copies of the eulogies that were delivered at her memorial service Sept. 3.
“We were just in shock for a few weeks, but we had an opportunity to do this victim impact statement and we had a Dec. 1 deadline, so we just gathered as much information as we could,” Ligia Fein said.
“We have always been so involved with our girls. Why would we not be involved with her now?” her mother asked.
ON THE WEB
Steven Fein’s Web site in memory of his daughter