Mom wants to help man accused of killing her daughter

By Anthony Antoine |

Published 03/04 2014 10:30PM

Updated 03/10 2014 12:55PM

Update: 10:04 pm, 3/7/14, Friday
VERMILION COUNTY -- A mother who wants to help the man responsible for her daughter's death can't do much. Trish Harris met with the Vermilion County State's Attorney's Office Friday.

She wants Jake Erickson to get a lighter sentence in exchange for more community service. It would include talking to younger people about the consequences of drinking and driving.

She was told, legally, they can't do that if he's sentenced to prison time which is likely. He goes to trial next month and faces 3 - 14 years.
Original: 10:01, 3/4/14, Tuesday
WESTVILLE -- No parent wants to live longer than their child, but this mother is finding it in her heart to forgive. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine has her story.

Trish Harris is getting ready to visit her daughter.

"I visit her at least three, four times a week. Sometimes more. Sometimes I come twice a day."

She's not away at school or around the corner at a friend’s house. 19-year old Nicole Harris is here.

Harris says, "This, to me, is where she is. This is where I feel at ease with her."

Last fall, Jake Erickson was the driver of this car. Police say, Erickson was drunk and crashed. Harris was a passenger, she died at the scene.

"I relive the night of the accident every time, and you know, I cry," says Harris.

The healing process hasn't been easy for Harris, but through the pain and suffering, she also found peace.

"Disbelief, anger, frustration, irritation. A couple days ago I wrote a quote and put it on my bathroom mirror. It is, 'What it is it will be what it will be. I cannot change what it is. I can only change my outlook on it.'"

Harris plans to speak to the Vermilion County State’s Attorney's Office on Erickson’s behalf. She wants Erickson to speak to young adults about the consequences of drunk driving.

"I've come to terms of, I don't hate him. He's not a bad person. He just made a foolish decision and a lot of lives were changed because of that. If we can get just one person to say, 'Hey, I remember that guy coming to the school,' you know, I think I would feel like justice would be served then," says Harris.

Even though she's learning to forgive, she'll never forget what Erickson took from her.

"We had 19 years of memories together and now I just have to carry on with those memories. Unfortunately we can't make any new ones."

Erickson faces 14 years in prison. Harris hopes, one day, she can stand with Erickson and share their story.

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