Stabbing survivor worries about attacker's possible release
WHITING, Iowa (KTIV) -- As the end of the session nears, Iowa lawmakers scramble to come up with a solution to protect victims of juvenile offenders. That's after a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court made it unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile to prison without parole.
This means most juvenile offenders behind bars -- except those who have committed first degree murder -- can go before the parole board and possibly get out of prison.
Lawmakers say, for victims of the offenders, this ruling has opened up old wounds. That's certainly the case for Jeanette Fountain of Whiting.
Fountain has been through a lot in her 52 years. She was kidnapped and raped at the age of 11. In 1983, when Jeanette was 24, she endured an equally scarring assault in Sioux City.
"Every day. I still think about it every day," Fountain said.
Married with a five-month-old son, life was good until February 8, 1983. Jeanette was getting back into her car at Laurence's Super Market when a stranger came up behind her with a knife, shoving her into the vehicle.
"We start driving and we start going up 27th Street towards Hamilton and I kept saying, 'Where are you going? Where are you taking me?'"
They ended up on Talbot Road near Stone State Park. She was forced out of the car.
"I just look back at him and he has that knife up like this and he was just going to slam it down, but I think since I just turned to look at him, he just kind of got me right here," Fountain said, pointing between her shoulder and neck.
Badly bleeding, Jeanette got away and made it to the hospital.
"They said, 'We can't help her, she's bled out. There's nothing we can do,'" said Fountain.
But she survived.
The young man responsible for the attack -- 17-year-old William Barbee -- has been behind bars for nearly thirty years. And for nearly thirty years, Jeanette has wondered why it happened.
"Maybe he's had a bad upbringing. Maybe his parents beat him. Maybe he was on drugs. What would make a person do that? I don't understand?"
The possibility Barbee could be released frightens her.
"I have mixed feelings about it because I feel like if I help to get him out then is he going to come out and hurt someone else? Is he going to come back and kill me? I don't know," Fountain said.
Jeanette believes though, that Barbee could have changed.
"If he truly was sorry and I find out that he had changed his life around, then I'd feel that he should be free," Fountain said.
It's a heavy thought in a life that's been filled with plenty of others.
"It's hard to forgive him. But I do. I forgive him. I really do," Fountain said. "I just hope to God that he's better."
The Iowa Attorney General's office says the juvenile offenders bill will likely not be retroactive, so it may not impact Barbee's case. Last November, Barbee's sentence was changed to life with the possibility of parole. A parole hearing date, though, has not been set.
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