PLATTSBURGH — Dale S. Jarvis Jr. says abuse led him to the “breaking point” before he killed his father and buried his body in the backyard.
In a one-page letter to the Press-Republican, Jarvis says he wants to set the record straight.
“I would like to thank the Ignorent (sic) people who know nothing about me or my case that judge what’s going on. I am in no way justifing (sic) what I did,” he wrote.
The Chateaugay man, 24, pleaded guilty Sept. 11 in Franklin County Court to first-degree manslaughter in the death of his father, Dale S. Jarvis Sr., 48, whose body was discovered in a grave behind the 14 White St. home in Chateaugay that the two shared on and off over the last few years.
An argument over video games sparked a physical altercation in which Jarvis Sr. brandished what turned out to be a pellet gun, police said. D.J. killed his father with a lethal blow to the head with a sledgehammer.
YEARS OF ABUSE
But D.J. said the fatal fight happened because he had reached an emotional breaking point following years of abuse at the hands of his father.
“For 24 years, I have been mentally abused, severely beaten and molested by my father,” he wrote.
“Everybody has a breaking point. Mine was getting hit across the face with a pistol and my life threatened.”
‘YOU NEVER KNOW’
Maynard Jarvis, Dale Sr.’s father and grandfather to D.J., is trying to come to terms with what happened to his family over the past few months, dealing with the loss of his son and having his grandson imprisoned.
He was close to both men over the years, repeatedly helping them get back on their feet when times were tough, money was scarce and bills piled up, he said.
“There’s only so much you can do,” he said by phone Tuesday after hearing the letter for the first time. “I know what (D.J. has) done wasn’t right. I am just feeling kind of bad about everything. His father was my son, and this is my grandson.”
Maynard knew the father and son argued over the years but said he never knew what extent the physical or emotional damage reached.
“You just never know what happens in someone else’s home,” Maynard said. “I am not gonna stick up for him (D.J.), but he’s had a lot to deal with over the years.”
He said his grandson was scared and acted out of self-defense that night, but that does not justify Dale Sr.’s death.
“(My son) had his problems in the past, and he tried to straighten up,” Maynard added.
PRAYED FOR FATHER
D.J. said he lives with constant remorse for his father’s death.
“Every day I regret what I did. Every night I spend sleepless with nightmares. I will not ask for forgiveness because I do not deserve it,” he wrote.
“I did not dump my father in a shallow grave. I built him a coffin and prayed for his sins to be forgiven every day.”
Maynard regularly visits D.J. in Franklin County Jail in Malone, where he is being held until his Nov. 13 sentencing. He faces a minimum of five years and a maximum of 25 years in state prison.
Maynard’s heart is heavy, knowing his grandson may be behind bars for more than two decades.
“I am 80 years old. I have to think I’ll never see him,” he said. “Dale was my youngest child. The rest are all in their 50s, near 60. Will they be around 20 years from now?”
He said D.J.’s remorse is evident during their visits. He mentioned to his grandfather that he would be writing letters to the paper to clear the air.
“I wish people would mind their own and stay out of other people’s business,” D.J. said in closing. “If you have a problem with me, write to me, not the paper.”
Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne said the letter is reflective of why and how the case was determined.
“We felt it was in the best interest of the family and everyone involved to resolve the case the way we did,” he said after hearing the contents.
He said D.J.’s case and his defense are why the charge was reduced from murder to manslaughter.
Email Miranda Orso: firstname.lastname@example.org