A tale of two men
On the night of Nov 20, 2006, an incident occurred in a Perham bar that has forever changed the lives of two young men. Jeremiah Ard of rural Dent has pleaded guilty to the third degree felony assault of David Kennedy of Perham. On June 15, Ard a...
On the night of Nov 20, 2006, an incident occurred in a Perham bar that has forever changed the lives of two young men.
Jeremiah Ard of rural Dent has pleaded guilty to the third degree felony assault of David Kennedy of Perham. On June 15, Ard appeared before Otter Tail County District Judge Waldemar Senyk for sentencing. Ard, who has been in custody since the incident, entered the courtroom with chains on his wrists and ankles.
Just days before, Kennedy, along with his mother, Betty, met with his primary psychologist to receive the results of the latest round of neurological tests. After a traumatic brain injury, Kennedy suffers with short term memory issues, has been diagnosed with an awareness deficit and is taking anti-seizure medication.
Betty explains the awareness deficit by saying, "He knows what he can do, but he's not aware of what he can't do." He no longer does the crossword puzzles he loved; they're now too difficult. "The words aren't there," said Betty.
Kennedy will continue once-a-week therapy for up to three years before a final assessment of his injuries can be made. Even though his doctor said that his progress "exceeded all our wildest expectations", Kennedy was disappointed. He thought he would have made much more progress.
Kennedy doesn't remember the assault at the T-Bonz Steak House or the life flight ride to Fargo, where he underwent surgery to relieve the bleeding and swelling in his brain. It was three days before his medical team even knew that he would survive. When he was able, he began four therapy classes each day and had to learn to walk again.
After months of hospitalization, medical treatment, rehabilitation, and therapy; one of his physicians, when commenting on his progress told Kennedy, "We can certainly tell you've had celestial help." Kennedy agrees that "God saved me again for some reason."
When asked if he wants to remember the assault, the easy-going Kennedy replies no, "I'm just glad it's over. I'm glad things turned out very well for me on this."
After depending on his parents for daily decisions, Kennedy is back at work on a limited basis and living on his own again. Betty says, for everyone in the family, they've had to learn patience to help them through.
In the courtroom for Ard's sentencing, Betty read a statement saying she is thankful her son did not die, but "he put my son in a prison that will last a lifetime."
Immediately prior to the sentencing, Judge Senyk told Ard that because of the understanding nature of the Kennedy family, Ard will avoid prison. Ard's sentence released him from jail with the 208 days he has already served counting against a stayed five-year sentence. But he is not a free man. Terms of his release include successful completion of an inpatient chemical dependency program, relapse prevention, anger management counseling following evaluation and recommendations, random drug and alcohol testing, community service, fines, monetary restitution, providing a DNA sample, and no direct or indirect contact with the Kennedy family except for a letter of apology.
In a statement to the court Ard said, "I am sorry for everything that happened to Mr. Kennedy. I certainly didn't mean for that to happen."
Judge Senyk reminded Ard that there are often "unforeseen consequences of intentional acts." He also advised Ard that his sentence should help him stay off alcohol and drugs and stop short of being violent. When Ard questioned the need for community service, Judge Senyk said it would "serve to remind you why you're there; why you're working for your community."
The lives of two young men intersected in a Perham bar and now David Kennedy is working to find the pieces of his old life while Jeremiah Ard has been given the opportunity to build a new one.