As the family of victim Karen Shumey and the family of Christopher Shumey, we were deeply saddened and disappointed by the jury’s decision in his case, but are coping with the verdict and will continue to focus on helping Christopher receive proper care while serving his sentence.
To begin, there were seven doctors who testified in this case — four in support of an insanity verdict. According to prosecutor Karen Gray, only those supporting her case were qualified or unbiased.
She alluded quite strongly that because two of the seven doctors were paid by the defense, they would break their sworn oath and opine in favor of who was writing the check.
Using this standard, it must be acknowledged that the highest paid of all was retained by her office, yet she considered him beyond reproach. It should also be noted that of the seven doctors, three were appointed by the court and the doctor who knew Christopher best, treated him for 12 years, and testified in his defense, did so for free.
Much of Ms. Gray’s strategy was about “malingering,” which is the exaggeration of symptoms and misrepresented test scores by the patient. There was only one of the seven doctors who lent any credence to this strategy, and that was the same well-paid doctor from Los Angeles, retained by Ms. Gray’s office.
Ms. Gray was required to establish a motive and to do so manipulated statements that the defendant made about sometimes having friction with his parents that they were too controlling and interfering, leaving out other statements where he described his relationship as very good and said loved his family. But to describe and malign a woman who died trying to help her mentally ill, suicidal son as a “helicopter parent, constantly hovering” is not only heartless and cold but completely inaccurate.
At no time did Ms. Gray attempt to interview family, friends, work associates; anyone who might have actually known Karen Shumey and who would have had insight into Karen’s relationship with her son. Having done so would have led her to the truth and eliminated the motive on which she built her entire case.
On Friday, we saw Ms. Gray’s comments in your newspaper, where she stated that, “If Mr. Shumey hadn’t had that firearm, I don’t think this would have happened.” It appeared as if her comment was directed at Robert Shumey, who has suffered the most painful and tragic losses anyone can conceive of in this life — a man who removed the gun from Christopher’s apartment, attempted to turn it in to the police and finally hid it in a locked office where he thought it could not be found.
Ms. Gray chose to imply something so unnecessarily callous and thoughtless it compelled us to write this letter in honor of a mother and father who are testaments to loving, caring parents everywhere.
And so yes, the jury has decided. While the semantics, biases, opinions and inferences have been laid to rest in a legal definition, our family will learn to live with the verdict because, in our hearts, we know the truth.
Pamela Harris of Santa Ynez is the sister of Karen Shumey and aunt of Christopher Shumey; Bryan Shumey of Aliso Viejo is Karen Shumeys son and Christophers brother; and Claudine Shumey of Aliso Viejo is the daughter-in-law of Karen Shumey and sister-in-law of Christopher Shumey.