No judge or court can give Glenda Blunschi and Jennifer Scallan what they desire most: for Blunschi’s son to walk and talk again and for Scallan’s daughter to walk again.
Blunschi and Scallan, however, are grateful the U.S. Supreme Court recently let stand a Baton Rouge man’s convictions and 12-year prison term for his role in a shooting at the 2007 Fourth of July fireworks show that left Robert M. Blunschi Jr. and Kayla Smith paralyzed.
Scallan, though, believes 22-year-old Devin Deon Collins got off easy.
“He’s going to one day be out of jail. When will my daughter’s sentence be over with?’’ she asked.
Glenda Blunschi also has questions she would like answered.
“I would really like to have Devin Collins man up and tell us the details of what happened that night. We deserve some closure. It’s been over four years,’’ she said.
Smith and Blunschi were walking atop the Mississippi River levee near the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial & Museum the night of July 4, 2007, when they got caught in the middle of a shootout, East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors have said.
Smith, now 21, suffered serious spinal cord injuries in the incident. Blunschi, now 25, was shot in the head and suffered significant brain damage.
Collins, who was convicted in 2009 on two counts of aggravated battery and given consecutive six-year prison sentences, did not wound either bystander when he fired a .25-caliber pistol into the crowd that night, prosecutors have said.
Smith’s and Blunschi’s injuries were consistent with a 9 mm bullet, authorities said.
Glenda Blunschi said her son attends occupational/physical therapy three times a week and speech therapy once a week.
“It really bothers me that Robert, through no fault of his own, has not progressed more,’’ she said. “Robert has made progress. He understands everything you say, but he can’t vocalize anything.’’
Robert Blunschi still requires a feeding tube to consume liquids, his mother added.
“We do take him out to eat sometimes. We take him to church. Nothing is easy,’’ she said.
The state provides an aide in the Blunschi’s home for 12 hours a day on weekdays and seven hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays.
“To me he lives in a lonely world,’’ she said. “That is very hard for me and my husband.’’
Glenda Blunschi said she and her husband believe that one day their son will talk again.
“People see Robert and are amazed how good he looks,’’ she said. “I’m so happy we have Robert. I’m his mom and I want more. I want it before we get too old.’’
“We’re getting there, but at a snail’s pace.’’
Above all, Robert Blunschi needs prayers, his mother said.
“We would like people not to forget us. Ask God to heal him,’’ she pleaded.
Scallan said her daughter, who undergoes therapy twice a week and is in and out of doctors’ offices, attends Baton Rouge Community College and hopes to transfer to LSU in about two more semesters.
“She’s excited about that,’’ her mother said.
Scallan said she is still raising funds in hopes that someday Kayla, who still suffers nerve pain, can undergo stem-cell transplant treatment in an attempt to help her walk again.
“It’s not impossible. Miracles do happen,’’ she said. “We just take one day at a time. That’s all we can do. I’m going to hang on to my faith.’’
District Attorney Hillar Moore III said the victims’ families “have been through an awful lot.’’
“I hope that these two families can now begin to heal as much as possible without the worry of court proceedings,’’ he said.
Collins and another Baton Rouge man, Marvin Brown, initially were charged with attempted second-degree murder and criminal conspiracy in the shooting. Collins was acquitted of the conspiracy charge.
Brown, 21, pleaded no contest in 2009 to an amended charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. He was sentenced to two years in prison and given credit for the 21 months he had served since his arrest. He was released shortly thereafter from Parish Prison.
Prosecutors acknowledged Brown was not the shooter, but said his DNA was found on a 9 mm pistol discovered near the museum.
Eleven 9 mm shell casings found at the scene were traced back to the gun, prosecutors said.