Movies help woman keep insanity at bay |

Movies help woman keep insanity at bay

Jane Stebbins

DENVER – Jocelan Martell hasn’t been able to read a book for the past 15 months; she can’t sit still long enough.

The Denver woman, whose son, Cody Wieland, died after an assault Nov. 1, 2002, no longer volunteers at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

She can’t pay attention to the plays she gets to see in exchange for her work.

And the Over the Hill Gang member has skied once in the past two seasons, quitting after a memory surfaced of her son skiing at the age of 10.

She doesn’t know if she’ll be able to take up her favorite sport again.

Instead she keeps in mind the words of Winston Churchill.

“Winnie said, “When the mind is in spasm,’ – and God knows that phrase could not be more telling – “there’s no use rubbing at the mind like a worn shirtsleeve,” she quoted.

“”You have to gently insinuate something else into your mind.’ He would paint. “There are no bombs in green, blue and yellow.'”

And she watches movies – “Casablanca,” “Oliver Twist,” “We’ll Meet Again” – anything with Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and other wartime silver screen greats.

“I like the gentle romances and long sagas that feature the mystery and magic of storytelling,” she said. “They speak of better things, of things progressing and improving. The best is yet to come.”

Last week, Martell watched 13 movies. This week, she’s checked out 17 from the local library.

And she tries to keep her mind off her son’s death and the first of three murder trials she faces.

“If I get heartbroken, I think of dear old Winnie,” she said. “It sounds mindless and juvenile, but it isn’t, really. I can’t read; I can’t sit still, but I can putter around, mending things, taking care of the cats and have these stories going on.

“I’ll think of that story instead of my dead son for awhile. And every once in a while, there’ll be a little relief. I take comfort in knowing (the story lines). I can think better things are yet to come.”

She also finds solace in Colorado’s victim’s rights laws that allow her to sit in the courtroom – “Can you imagine not being allowed to be in the court?” she said. It also allows her to give a statement to the judge at sentencing – assuming the jury finds the defendant guilty.

“It’s the best system in the world,” she said. “It’s far from perfect, but there’s nothing better.”

She also wonders how the family is going to tell her grandson, Bohdan, who doesn’t know his father was murdered.

“It’s an awfully hard thing we have ahead of us,” she said. “Every time I look at him, I think, “What words are there to say?’ He’s the biggest victim. And he’s the littlest person in the court.”

Martell also wonders about the state cutbacks in the judicial system.

She cites the $295,000 that has gone into the Kobe Bryant rape trial and notes there was no court reporter in the first preliminary hearing in her son’s murder case.

And she thinks about how good she has it, particularly when she hears the stories in her Parents of Murdered Children meetings.

“When I sit there and it’s unbearable, I think of the people I know in Parents of Murdered Children where there’s never been an arrest, never a day in court,” she said.

“Those people are tormented. It helps in that regard to know my son has a day in court. But it doesn’t bring closure. You get through minute by minute.”

The first of three trials in Cody Wieland’s death continues today in Summit County District Court. The first defendant is Brian Stockdale. Also charged with second-degree murder are Brandon Robbins and Michael Dietert. All will be tried separately.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or

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