They calmly sat in the second row of Courtroom 12A on Thursday, while the 90-minute PowerPoint presentation from hell was played. As gruesome details of the Tacony dungeon master’s scheme were retold, some in the packed room sobbed.
But the four victims of Linda Weston who were there were stoic.
The hearing to sentence Weston, who enslaved and tortured disabled adults so she could steal their benefits checks, was a formality. She pleaded guilty to 196 federal counts in September and accepted a prison term of life plus 80 years.
For the victims, this was one last chance to face their captor. Two testified on video. Two others stood at a lectern that faced U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe.
Said Beatrice Weston, 23, robbed of her childhood because her own aunt beat and prostituted her: “I walk around with scars. Every day, I just think about her beating me. She got what she deserved.”
Drwin McLemire, 46, whose left ankle was chained to a basement boiler around the clock: “I don’t know what they’re going to do to you, but it should be the death penalty.”
Tamara Breeden, 33, starved and forced to drink her own urine for 10 years: “She was just crazy. I was sad and crying.”
As Breeden concluded, the judge stopped her. Something from Breeden’s previously recorded statement, not played Thursday, had stirred her.
“Do you remember how you ended it?” Rufe asked. The victim and judge began to recite it together:
I’m free. I’m a survivor. I’m a strong black woman.
“Good for you,” Rufe said.
Linda Weston, 56, peered at the screen for the duration of the presentation that chronicled her victims’ injuries, their horrid living conditions, and the lengths she went to to conceal a decadelong, four-state conspiracy.
Weston, her hair braided and pulled into a bun, did not speak much Thursday. The plea deal spared her from a potential death sentence.
“I am sorry,” Weston told the judge. “I believe in God and God knows what happened.”
The judge did not seem satisfied.
“There are a lot of people in this courtroom who know what happened, too,” she said.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Matt Gelb