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Tormented by tragedy

Soon after Wendi Robyn moved into her new house in Fruita, she dreamed about her son.She dreamed she was standing in the back yard of her new house by the fence.”I felt someone come up behind me and put his arms around my waist like my son used to. I turned around and it was my son Taylor.”Taylor DeMarco was 9 years old on July 20 when he was shot and killed. Fourteen-year-old Eric Stoneman is accused of killing DeMarco in a shooting that occurred at their friend Eric Warde’s house in Battlement Mesa.Wednesday, Stoneman was bound over for trial on charges of first-degree murder, reckless manslaughter, first-degree assault and menacing with a deadly weapon. If he is found guilty of the first-degree murder charge, he could face life in prison. His attorney, public defender Greg Greer, entered a plea of not guilty Wednesday.Warde, 13, is the lone witness to the shooting. He testified at the hearing that Stoneman left the house but returned with a .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun which he pointed at both boys, then pointed the gun at his own head and placed it in his mouth. Warde then testified that Stoneman shot Taylor once in the chest.Stoneman told investigators it was an accident.A beautiful dreamRobyn, who is a registered nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, said that until she moved into her new house in August she hadn’t dreamed about Taylor. In the dream she said to him, “I got to tell God ‘Thank you’ for bringing you to me in my dream.” “I knew he was dead, and I knew (the dream) was a gift from God,” said RobynRobyn sent a prepared statement to the Post Independent Thursday (See My Side, page A9) in which she said that Stoneman intended to kill Taylor and may have intended to kill Eric Warde.She said she has read newspaper accounts that suggest Stoneman’s shooting of Taylor was an accident.”One article said the reason that Eric Stoneman killed my son was over a video game. I don’t think that was even close to what was being testified to yesterday,” she said Thursday. “It may have escalated the situation, but it’s little things like that that paint the wrong picture.”It also came out in court that Warde had given a number of conflicting statements to sheriff’s investigators about what happened that day.But Robyn said she wasn’t surprised Warde told variations of the truth because he was traumatized by the violent incident.”It’s expected he won’t have instant recall,” she said. “The facts remain the same. What difference does it make how it was said?”She also worries about Warde.”He’s a very shy boy, very shy, even introverted. My son was probably his closest friend,” she said. “He’s under pressure from the defense (attorneys) and the DA and probably the neighborhood.”He is in a very difficult spot. … My only wish is that the truth comes out, the truth needs to be known. That’s what I want for him. He’s the only one who was there.”She also worries that what Warde witnessed will haunt him for the rest of his life.”I’m scared for him because he’s so shy. I hope that he can get some help and talk about it.”A difficult day in courtWednesday’s hearing was equally difficult for Robyn.”I learned some things that were very difficult for me to hear. When I went to see him before he was cremated I saw a big gash on his wrist. I didn’t know what it was,” she said. She thought the hospital may have started an IV. “Yesterday I heard a bullet went through his wrist. That was news to me,” she said. During the testimony, a sheriff’s investigator said the boy had a defensive wound on his wrist, received when he threw up his arm in front of his face as Stoneman took aim at him.”That means he knew it would happen. That tears at me,” she said.Along with trying to cope with the pain of losing her son, Robyn said she must deal with thoughts of whether or not some action of hers could have averted that tragic day. And she thinks about his last moments on earth.”What did he go through at that moment … Did God take him instantly so he didn’t suffer?”During his testimony, Warde said he and Taylor had first locked themselves in a bedroom when Stoneman returned to the Warde home, then they locked themselves in a bathroom.”I wasn’t aware they’d gone behind two locked doors,” she said. “If I could talk to my son I’d say, ‘Why didn’t you leave? Why didn’t you come home?'”She thought she’d given him enough common sense to know if danger existed the best thing to do was leave.”Why he didn’t leave only he knows.”Now, three months after her son’s death, Wendi Robyn struggles to live day to day.”I haven’t had any experience with anything like this in my whole life. I don’t want to come off as angry or bitter,” she said.Now she works 12-hour night shifts at the hospital. Her patients take precedence and help her forget for a time that her life has changed forever.”I’m pretty stoic at work. I try to maintain normalcy at work. I have patients to take care of. They are my primary responsibility.” Coping at workAt home, she also has two young daughters, 13 and 4.Her 4-year-old asks about Taylor. One day she asked her mom for the picture of Taylor that sits by his ashes. She kisses and talks to it, Robyn said. “I try to reassure her that he can see us and she’ll be with him someday.” Her 13-year-old is in grief counseling at school.To fill the days when she isn’t working, Robyn reads.”I buy a new book probably every other day. I read the book cover to back on the days I’m not working,” she said. Some of them are about heaven and others about near death experiences. “I wasn’t a very spiritual person before this happened. I think I need to get closer to Him and that may help me understand more.”She is now divorced from Taylor’s dad, Bill DeMarco. She said he is angry about the loss of his son.”He’s had a lot of things happen. He lost his dad and mom in the last couple years, and to have this on top of it.”Robyn also said she hasn’t opened up about her son’s death until writing her statement. After the hearing Wednesday she said she wanted to publicly declare her feelings and beliefs. Despite the inconsistencies in Eric Warde’s statements, she believes the picture is clear.”I think (Eric Stoneman) did intentionally mean to do this. He went to his home with the intention to kill one or both of them, I really believe that. A lot of people are saying no one would put a 14-year-old away for life, but he made the choice to do this. … It was not an accident.”Robyn had another dream about Taylor recently. She and her son were in a thrift shop. “He was being typical Taylor … and he was bringing me hats I would never wear. In the dream I recognized he was dead. I wore the hats and appreciated them. … I pray every day. I pray I will dream of him and God will give me some kind of sign (that he’s in heaven).” Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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