Editor's note: Below is a copy of the statement Arthur Klaffka, Justin Klaffka's grandfather, read to Houston County Superior Court Judge Katherine K. Lumsden during the sentencing of William Allen Slaton and Matthew Jacob Pike, who were convicted Thursday in his grandson's killing.
I am Justins Grandfather, a very proud Grandfather. Justin was my first grandson, although I still have eight wonderful grandchildren whom I love with all my heart. However Justin was my first. I also had the privilege of raising my grandson Justin along with my late wife Maryann from the age of eight years old until he became a young adult. I was blessed as a grandparent. I was so proud when he was born, knowing that another generation of Klaffkas was going to enter the world. I miss him, I lay awake at night crying that his life ended so abruptly and tragic.
As a grandfather, I often wondered what my grandchildren would be like as adults. Justin was one in a million. He was kind, loving, happy, sincere, genuine, caring, affectionate and sentimental. He had a smile that would light a room and He had that rare gift of making everyone feel important, special, loved and appreciated. Justins death has affected me in so many ways mentally and emotionally. It is heartbreaking as a grandfather to watch my family suffer and not be able to do anything about it. In that respect, I feel I have been robbed of not only my grandson Justin but also the joy of my life.
I find myself mourning not only my loss of Justin, but also for the generations. Because of his death I will never see his face, I will never hear his voice, I will never see his name on my caller Id or see him stand at my door saying grandpa how are you doing, and can I borrow 20 bucks. The loss I feel cannot ever be adequately described.
I cannot help but feel that Justin was given a death sentence and my family and I were given a life sentence. If it was in my power Your Honor, I would sentence these guilty criminals to the maximum sentence of death. I would also sentence to the unending sorrow, grief, heartache and sadness that my family and myself wake up to each day knowing that our beloved Justin is no longer with us. These men will never begin to realize whom they have taken from this earth and our lives. These criminals are murderers and thieves. I seek Justice for my grandson who would surely do the same for me. I ask, YOUR HONOR, not to let Justin down, who believed in the justice system as you consider the sentence. These men must never be allowed to do this to anyone else or anyone elses family again. No one has the selfish right to beat, strangle, murder and throw the person into the river to dispose of the body. I also believe that if Mr. Matthew J Pike and Mr. William A Slaton had not killed my grandson they would surely kill someone else.
Justin has left a legacy of loving kindness. Justin loved his family, His friends, His girlfriend and his life. Justin should still be with us. I should not have to speak about my grandson in the past tense; I would give anything to have my happy go lucky grandson back. No family should have to feel the needless pain and suffering we feel. Justin Arthur Klaffka was an extraordinary grandson, son, brother, nephew, cousin and human being who did not deserve this fate.
I ask, YOUR HONOR, that you consider rendering a sentence that you would give to someone who had taken your own grandsons life. Most sincerely and with a heavy heart, I am
Arthur G. Klaffka
Grandfather of Justin Arthur Klaffka