Justice for Denny Petitt
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"But that man sitting there took him in.  He was the only one left in the family that had anything to do with him and now he sits there fighting for his life because he remained Tony’s brother.  Now he’s fighting for his life." ~ Sentencing Hearing 12/20/10 
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The following are Quotes from Denny’s sentencing hearing on December 20, 2010.  He was sentenced to 30 years.
Kelly Thompson

He’s a great guy, he’d do anything to help anybody out.

  I’ve never seen him be violent.   I met my step-dad when I was 7-years-old, when he married my mom and helped raise my brother and I.  My brother was born with the umbilical cord wrapped so tightly around his neck that his brain had been deprived of oxygen for too long.  As he got older the doctors determined that his brain wasn’t able to function any higher than a 2 year old.  He’s now 36.  If the doctor would’ve done things differently, John would have been normal.  My mother didn’t sue the doctor although she had every right too.  She told me “The doctor made a mistake but he’s human, and we all make mistakes”.

On March 30, 2009 my Dad made the mistake of becoming intoxicated with his brother.  My Dad was severely beaten by Tony, so bad that he broke my Dad’s jaw.  He punched my Dad in the face at least 8 times in a row.  My Dad has seen Tony fight and that night he was the one receiving the blows – he knew what Tony was capable of and he knew he couldn’t stop him.

  My Dad would have never picked up that tank if it weren’t for Tony being such a violent person and beating him.

The jury made a mistake.

  Trying to stop someone from beating you is not first-degree murder. He was defending himself and he was drunk.  My Dad loved Tony.  My Dad also said he wished that it would’ve been him that died that night.  My Dad loved Tony so much that he bailed him out of jail and he took him to where he was staying because no one else wanted to deal with Tony. 

My Dad was making his life better, the same week that this happened my Dad was having furniture delivered to his new apartment.  Tony was going back to court for another battery charge against his girlfriend.  Anyone that truly knows my Dad knows he didn’t intentionally do this.  He does not deserve to go to prison.  The Uncle Tony that I knew wouldn’t want his brother going to prison for the rest of his life. 

That night part of my dad died with his brother.  He’s a broken man and his punishment is the hell he wakes up to every morning knowing he can’t ever see his brother again and he’s the reason why.  But just like that doctor was with my brother, he’s only human and we all make mistakes.

Donna Holliday

Today Judge you are going to determine what the rest of Denny’s life if going to be and I think you need to know what Denny’s life has been since I met him. He was 15, I was 16.  I look back to see that really cute 15 year old boy, what it was about him.  He was quite.  He was respectful. He was kind. He was modest. I married that cute boy when he was 18 and I, 19.  I learned that he was honest and fair, never petty.  He was caring and compassionate.  He was a hard worker.  He was a trustworthy man.  He always helped others for free. 

Denny was and is an honorable man.

In 1969 Denny went into the Army.  He boxed in Tacoma, Washington on their boxing team.  He was good enough to be invited to train with the All Army Team in North Carolina.  While training with the All Army Team, I had to be hospitalized with a miscarriage.  Denny would be allowed to break training but would not be able to return for All Army.  Denny came home for a week and gave up All Army and when he returned he had orders for Vietnam. 

He spent a year there and was honorably discharged in 1971. 


He came home and we started building a new life together.  Denny always had job.  In January 1974 we had a son, John.  John had a lot of problems and was diagnosed by 18 months old as being severely and profoundly retarded, and in May 1974 we buried his beloved mother.  We bought a home and had a few of acres.  We struggled like everyone does.

By the end of 76 we were divorced.  Denny ran a muck for 10 years and I re-married and divorced.  In 1987 Denny and I remarried.  I brought my 7-year-old daughter Kelly into the marriage.  Denny was a good father to both John and Kelly.  John was functioning around a 2 to 3 year old level.  Denny taught Kelly to be respectful and honest.  He taught her to be all the things that 15 year old boy was.  He was strict but caring.  She couldn’t do a lot of the things “other teenagers” were doing.  I remember him telling her to act like a lady and not to have a “dirty” mouth.  Denny walked that 7-year-old girl down the aisle when she got married.  He was so proud.  When she got a job for Mary Lee Leahy he was thrilled.  She ended up getting her Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies when she had 4 kids.  I can’t take all the credit for that, Denny had helped instill the values she has.


Denny fished with John on a regular basis.  Although, I think John taught Denny; he always caught more.  Denny taught John how to bat a ball.  He taught John how to hit the toilet when he went to the bathroom.  He attend all of the school functions.  Denny rarely drank.  Our wild side was Saturday night’s playing cards and drinking coffee with Tom and Vicky Magro, or going to wrestling matches to support their boys who were the same age as John. 

Denny shoveled snow for all the old ladies in the neighborhood for free.  He’d cut down their trees to save them money and never charged them.  He was always helping someone.


From 1987 until 1992 Denny helped my parents run their Amusement Park inside the main gate at the fairgrounds.  He did it all from supervising the employees to maintenance.  He was in charge of all the rides and employees.  Sometimes he helped in the concession stands.  He was apart of all decision making.  On Sundays during State Fair he would meet the bank staff at the bank taking in excess of $50,000 cash to deposit.


Denny helped take care of his dad when he was terminally ill and also took care of my dad when he was terminally ill.  From 93 to 95 he drove for construction and 96 to 2001 he bought his own truck.  In 2002 he started working at ABC Supply Company, until 2005. I filed for divorce in 2004.  We had little contact until this happened with Tony. 


Denny is a good man. He loved Tony and took care of him even when Tony had worn out his welcome elsewhere.  Denny knew as well as all of us in the family that once Tony started beating someone he wouldn’t quit.  Denny acted in self defense just like his other brothers would have. His sister and brothers, nieces and nephews need him to be apart of their lives along with his son and daughter.  Thank you.

Troy Petitt

I’ve never known Denny to be a violent person one day in my life, I’ve never seen him violent and I wish I could say the same about Tony, but I can’t.  Denny did not deserve this, he’s a good man. Denny did not mean to kill Tony.  I traveled with work and there wasn’t one day my brother didn’t come over and check on my family, not one day.  My brother, Tony I seen twice in the last 3 years of his life because I couldn’t be around him. I couldn’t have him around my family.  If anyone knew him the last years of his life, he was unbearable. This all stems from him beating Denny. We wouldn’t never be in this position if he didn’t put us in this position and I’m sorry. The facts of what happened, there’s no way he’ll get me to believe my brother thought about killing my brother, but he had to do what he had to do. Tony wouldn’t stop once he started.  I’m sorry Denny, I’m sorry that you are in this position, and I love you with all my heart. If the Court would please, my brother didn’t mean to do this and I wish that the Court would take this consideration giving the least amount of time possible.


Bob Petitt

I don’t believe in any way he meant to do it.  Denny was always the type of person that loved Tony. Anytime Tony got in trouble, it seemed Denny was the one to help him out.  Tony was staying with Denny and Dave Georges.  Denny went and bailed Tony out of jail. Tony’s daughter gave Denny money to bail Tony out of jail after he beat up his girlfriend.  His daughter said “I’d like for you to get my dad out of jail but I don’t want him to come back to my house, so you’ll have to find a place for him.” So Denny, being Denny took Tony in.  Denny is a really good person. Anytime I needed him, he was always there and I sure hope that the Court is lenient on him.  Thank you.

Connie Diehl

Denny was a hard worker, a good father and a great brother.  Denny loved Tony probably more than any of us.  About every time I talked to Bob, Denny, Greg or Troy, I always asked about Tony, because I loved him, and no matter what, when you’re a family, you love people in your family, no matter what they do, and our whole family had always looked out for Tony. 

The night before this happened we were all at my son’s playing cards and here comes Denny and Tony and I hadn’t seen Tony for like 3 years and I thanked Denny for bringing Tony to see me and we were playing cards. After the card game broke up, Denny and Tony and my son, Derek, got in his truck and he was taking the boys home, and as soon as Tony got in the truck he started trashing the truck.  Denny was trying to tell my son how nice his truck was and that it was like my brother Greg’s and Tony had been drinking some and he was just bad mouthing everything and my son pulled over and he said “Since you think this truck is no good, you can get out and walk because this truck is taking you home” and there again my brother Denny stood up for him and said “No don’t make him walk Derek”, so they got home and Tony got out of the truck and slammed the door and walked into the trailer and my son Derek told Denny he said “are you sure you’re going to be okay”, because he knew how violent Tony could be and Denny said “Yeah we’ll be okay”.  He said “Don’t worry about us, we’ll be okay” and I’m sorry that Tony is dead, I loved him but it’s really really hard for both of them so I would ask the court to show compassion for my brother Denny while he’s still here.  He’s a loving brother that I’ll miss dearly so I would ask the Judge to give the least sentence he could get because I know it was an accident that he killed his brother.  Thank you.

Benita Goldsberry

 Denny was always there for everybody.  If I asked him for anything and he had it, he would never hesitate, as he would for anybody, not just family, a perfect stranger, that was Denny.  He’s already sentenced himself on what he’s already done to himself, he can’t change it.  I don’t think that he should be sentenced.  I think he’s already done to himself what no court could do.  I have eight pages to add, eight pages of how Tony Petitt used to be and what he was on March 30th, no the family doesn’t have Tony anymore, Denny didn’t take Tony, Tony died a long time ago.  Denny was still here for all of us, Denny was still family to my grandchildren.  I couldn’t even allow my grandchildren around Tony anymore.  I’m not sure where the line is here, I have eight pages of terrible things that I’ve been forced to write about somebody that helped us raise our children but I could no longer be around him anymore, but that man sitting there took him in.  He was the only one left in the family that had anything to do with him and now he sits there fighting for his life because he remained Tony’s brother. 
Now he’s fighting for his life. 

I miss looking across the street at my daughter’s house seeing him on her porch, just talks, that’s all they did was talk.  Denny didn’t have anything for us but he loved us and that’s worth all the money in the world.  I’m a better person for knowing Denny and I’m so thankful for his presence in my children’s life.

Erik Petitt

Denny was a great Uncle.  I always looked forward to spending time with him. He used to come to wrestling meets.  He used to come watch me wrestle.  I’m a big sports fan.  My kids are getting at that age we’re all going to be involved.  We have a big family always involved together and I want him to be involved as anybody. I definitely want him to get the least sentence as possible. I know he didn’t mean to do it.  Of course it’s a horrible thing but I still don’t think he meant to do it. Definitely think First Degree was a crazy verdict.

Roberta Petitt

I think he does pretty much anything anybody needs him to do for them.  I worked with him in my father-in-laws concession stand a lot over the past few years.  I’ve never seen him be violent or mean to anyone and I would like to state that out of the two uncles, Tony was the one I was closet too, and I’m speaking on behalf of his brother because I understand the situation that he put his brother in.  I don’t want to see him punished for the rest of his life for an unfortunate situation that happened.  I have watched this whole family suffer through this.  You wouldn’t believe the turmoil that they are all in.  From Gloria to Nikki who lost Uncle Tony to the rest of the family who is scared to death they are going to lose their other brother.  This family loves each other unconditionally that’s why we continue to have something to do with Uncle Tony and that’s why we want our other uncle to get the least sentence possible because I don’t believe in my heart of hearts for a moment that he meant to kill his brother.  I really feel in my heart that he was defending himself and that’s from my experience from living with Tony Petitt and I hate speaking ill of him because I loved him so much. But Uncle Denny, who I always seen be a nice person and always helpful and hard worker and I’ve seen the obstacles he’s had in his life and I believe he’s done the best he can do.

Chenel Petitt

I’d like to begin by saying that I’m not here to choose a side or anything like that I’m just here to speak on behalf of our uncle that we still do have and Uncle Denny was more than a family member, he was a friend, a confidante, a comforting shoulder.  I feel myself privileged to know such a wonderful man.  I consider him one of my greatest friends.  We would talk, we would listen to each other.  We would joke and always laugh.  Uncle Greg walked in on us one time discussing Vietnam, how they received their letters and he said to me that I was the only one that he had ever heard of him talking about Vietnam and I feel very privileged for that. Thank you for that. In my opinion, Uncle Denny is a very kind, generous and giving man.  He was always there to help if I needed housework done or my trash was full.  If he came over to visit he would always take it out for me.  If I needed advice, he would always be there to give it.  I very much just miss sitting and drinking coffee and talking with him. I hope one day we can sit and drink coffee again.  I just miss my friend and we all have little children.  I too, have a small daughter and one day I will have to explain to her what’s happened between her Uncles and her best buddy, Uncle Denny.  I don’t want to let her know how bad he was treated and I don’t want her to know how bad his own brother treated him the physical abuse he had to endure from his own brother and I only wish I could better explain on paper what a great man how good and kind and if you needed a t-shirt he’d take it right off and give it to you and that’s how kind he was. 

Greg Petitt

He’s always been a good man to me.  He worked for me in my concession stand.  He was a good worker.  Just always been a good brother, very loving.  Always did anything he could for me, if I needed help and other people.  I think you can tell how much he’s loved.  I would just ask the court leniency for him.  Thank you.