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Quality of life must be given fuller measure in justice for victims

 William Senne pleaded guilty in 2005, at age 20, after a drunken driving accident that seriously injured state Trooper Ellen Engelhardt (background), and served 2½ years in prison.

GREG DERR/ASSOCIATED PRESS/POOL/FILE 2005

William Senne pleaded guilty in 2005, at age 20, after a drunken driving accident that seriously injured state Trooper Ellen Engelhardt (background), and served 2½ years in prison.

RE “BREAKING his silence” (Page A1, Jan. 6): I wouldn’t want to beat up too much on William Senne, who is facing a new vehicular homicide charge since state Trooper Ellen Engelhardt’s death, after having done time in prison for injuring her in 2003 when he was 18. I don’t think a jury would want to either; Senne’s counsel could make prosecutors look pretty bad.

Still, I can’t blame prosecutors for feeling that justice has not quite been done. It was never done in the first place.

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I have long believed our laws draw too bright a line between death itself and all injuries, including the most grievous sustained by those who would die without advanced care and who never recover to live anything like normal lives.

If the laws reflected the seriousness of harms that deprive victims of all or nearly all function, prosecutors might feel less inclined to bring later charges in the event of the victims’ death. Initial charges could then carry weight proper to the crime of robbing victims permanently of independence, livelihood, reciprocity in relationships, longevity, and even awareness of life.

Your article featured two photos of Engelhardt. On the front page, she appears bright-eyed, happy, and alert in her uniform. In the other, she appears deeply loved, but very changed.

Senne’s recklessness stole something irreplaceable from her. We deserve laws that take such things into account.

Megan Brook

Cambridge

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