Trying to mend

LIHUE — Clelia Pirotton once wanted to go over to her girlfriend’s house, grab her friend’s gun, go into the backyard and shoot herself in the head.

She said she saw herself doing it. She planned it.

“I didn’t want her to have to deal with having to clean up the blood afterwards,” Pirotton said.

The 58-year-old voluntarily spent about three days at Mahelona Medical Center in Kapaa in April where she was monitored by doctors and nurses until she was released on her own accord.

It’s a torment she’s lived with for two years now.

She’s been contemplating suicide on and off since she learned her son, Alex Pirotton Gonzales, 34, was murdered on Oahu between Aug. 21-25, 2013.

Gonzales had been missing for many weeks until Honolulu police found his dismembered body stuffed into several bags near Mililani Memorial Park.

Pirotton’s had to relive her emotions recently as the murderer faces sentencing this fall.

On Aug. 24, Bryan Suitt, 47, pleaded no contest without the benefit of a plea deal to the second-degree murder of Gonzales. The mandatory punishment for second-degree murder is life in prison with the possibility of parole.

But revisiting the gruesome crime is almost too much to bear. Although getting through the sentencing will be an important step to healing, and hopefully forgiveness.

“It might make me feel better,” Pirotton said. “It wouldn’t take away (the pain), but I’d have some satisfaction. I would have closure. After sentencing, I know I’ll have a big weight off my shoulders.”

She said she was surprised when she learned Suitt had pleaded no contest because she thought it would be a long trial.

Yet, when hearings and meetings about her son’s case take place, Pirotton said, “It brings me back to point one.”

“It’s affected my health. Emotionally now,” Pirotton said wiping away tears this week. “There are days I can’t get out of bed. Days I can’t do anything other than think about him. I just feel hopeless and worthless.”

Gonzales was raised in California and dropped out of high school to marry his girlfriend who became pregnant with their son. He joined the U.S. Marines and moved to Oahu upon his discharge and worked on fishing boats.

Gonzales joined his mother and brother on Kauai in 2001. He worked while completing his GED at Kauai High School.

His mother described him as a good father, gifted artist and guitar player, kind and loving.

“(As a baby) he was always giving hugs,” she said. “Falling asleep on rocking chairs.”

Before his body was discovered with 55 distinct wounds — 49 of which were stab wounds and six that were dismemberment wounds — on Sept. 15, 2013, he had been reported as a missing person.

For Pirotton, there are still many lingering questions. She often finds herself wondering about her son’s final moments of life.

“How did the argument happen?” she said. “Did he gasp when he died? Did it hurt?”

Now, she takes medication just to get through her day but even then, she said she sometimes thinks she should just go back to Mahelona Medical Center.

“When I’m there, it’s like being in a safe place with people that know exactly what I’m going through and what I need,” she said.

Pirotton said she talks to her three other children when she’s upset, but doesn’t want to impose her feelings of grief onto them. She said she’s not sure they’ve had time to process what has happened.

Suitt has “devastated our family,” Pirotton said.

“He’s crushed our lives our souls,” she said. “He’s taken away our firstborn, our child. This is the only person in the whole world that has been able to leave me incomplete. And I’ll be like that for the rest of my life.”

She’s considered reaching out to Suitt’s mother, but thinks it’s still too soon.

“I feel bad for his mother,” Pirotton said. “Because in a sense she has lost her son too. At least she still has her boy … I don’t feel bad for what (Bryan’s) going through, though.”

This month marks two years since Gonzalez’s death. But Pirotton said that doesn’t lessen her pain.

“Time does a lot of damage,” she said. “It can heal, but on the other hand, it can make it a sore spot.”

Pirotton said she mailed an impact letter to First Circuit court judge Karen Ahn stating she hoped Suitt “never see the outside of the prison walls that hold him in now.”

As the Oct. 28 sentencing for Suitt approaches, Pirotton said all she can feel is anxiety. She receives disability checks and lives in low-income housing near Lihue with roommates and is unsure she could handle the trip financially and emotionally.

“My brother said he’d pray for me,” she said. “He’s worried about my emotional well-being.”

Still, she said she’s counting down the days until sentencing. Regardless of how difficult, how brutal it will be to relive the horrors, it will be an important step on her road to mending.

And, perhaps one day, forgiveness.

“Ten years from now, I would be able to forgive (Bryan). God says you have to forgive. Right now I can’t forgive him. I don’t know how to.”

••• Michelle Iracheta, cops and courts reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or Follow Michelle on Twitter @cephira


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