“Does time off for good behavior cancel out the bottles of tears we have cried?”
Those are the words of a grieving Cleveland mother, Kim Ledford, who is set to travel to Nashville this week to testify about her son’s death in hopes of keeping the woman convicted for killing him in prison.
Tiffany Isaza is nearing a parole hearing Thursday after spending two years of a 10-year sentence ordered in the vehicular homicide of Dustin Ledford, who was 24 at the time of his death.
Isaza was sentenced to eight years in the Tennessee Department of Corrections for the July 2010, car crash that killed Ledford. This week’s parole hearing is scheduled in Nashville.
Isaza was also given two years on child endangerment after she reportedly left her two children at home the night of the tragic crash.
Isaza had alcohol and methamphetamine in her system at the time of the head-on collision. She left her two small children at home and drove toward Cleveland on APD 40 — but she was traveling in the wrong lane.
In the darkness, Dustin Ledford was headed east on APD 40. The two cars collided. Isaza was severely injured and Ledford died a short time later.
Kim Ledford and her husband, Danny, still struggle with the grief at the loss of their only child, who was adopted at birth.
In the time since their son’s death, the Ledfords have fought for changes in the law and have become teachers who speak “about the dangers of drinking and driving as well as texting and drugged driving,” Kim Ledford explained.
Brooklyn Martin, assistant district attorney general, said the 10th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office has sent a letter in opposition to Isaza’s possibility of parole.
“We want her to serve the full 10-year sentence,” Martin said.
“One of the most important things is for the family members of Dustin Ledford to voice their opposition as well,” Martin added.
In a letter prepared for the parole hearing, Kim Ledford said Isaza made a “choice” that night to get behind the wheel of a car even though she was impaired.
“People make bad ‘choices’ every day, but I also believe in accountability,” she stressed. “Being accountable for our actions is what brings about change. I’m not sure that 22 short months is enough time to get the need for alcohol out of her (Isaza’s) system, much less time to reflect on the tremendous loss we feel from the loss of Dustin.”
She added, “We’ve spent the last two years trying to adjust to walking on our new journey without our precious son. While she has spent only 22 months of a 10-year sentence in jail, we have spent 26 months of a life sentence. Those 26 months translate into 788 days without seeing or holding Dustin, missing his 25th and 26th birthdays, two Halloweens, two Thanksgivings, two Christmases, two Valentine’s Days, two of my birthdays, two horrible Mother’s Days, and two Father’s Days watching my husband grieve Dustin’s loss.”
The emotional parent pointed out, “A child’s life is surely worth more than a mere 22 months of incarceration.”
She encouraged public support of her message.
“If anyone wants to write a letter in support of opposition of her (Isaza’s) parole, they can email letters to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 715-3157,” she said.
Area residents are also invited to add their names to petitions that will be taken to the parole hearing, Ledford said.