For nearly three years, Lindsay and Jeanne Depew avoided planning vacations and out-of-town visits.
They never knew when something might happen in the criminal cases against the three men accused of killing their son, Ty Depew, in Harrisburg, said the victim's father, Lindsay Depew Jr.
"It's been an emotional roller coaster we've been on," he said. "We're going to make it. We're going to get on with our lives.
"But we won't have Ty."
The couple, of Newberry Township, struggled with grief, frustration and impatience waiting for the system to secure justice for Ty, he said.
The stress of it all nearly killed the 69-year-old father.
"In July 2011, my wife and I were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary and I went into cardiac arrest," he said. "No heartbeat for almost four minutes."
Buried emotions: A nurse attending the party administered CPR and revived Depew, who said he believes the stress he was under helped bring on that heart attack.
"I didn't cry, I didn't grieve for Ty (after the homicide)," he said. "I was trying to be strong for my wife. I was holding back so much emotion."
Harrisburg Police subsequently arrested three men, but it took more than 2-1/2 years for them to plead guilty and be sentenced to prison.
For long periods the cases seemed in limbo, Depew said, and during those times he and Jeanne would start to move on with their lives.
"Then when something would happen, the emotions would boil up again," he said. "You feel so powerless."
On the streets: The 43-year-old Ty was living on the streets of Harrisburg City when he was attacked on Aug. 3, 2010.
The former Newberry Township man died nine days later at Hershey Medical Center from complications of traumatic brain injury, according to the Dauphin County Coroner's Office.
He was a good man, but struggled with alcoholism and was homeless because of it, according to his father.
Ty was confronted near the Harrisburg bus terminal in the 200 block of Market Street by Mark Glacken, Michael J. Sims and Alberto Velez Jr. Glacken and Sims also were homeless; Velez stayed with family in Steelton.
"I don't think anyone intended for this guy to die," Dauphin County chief deputy district attorney Michael Rozman has said. "There was some sort of dispute and the victim ... went to a phone booth and dialed 911. He started telling the 911 dispatcher that these guys were messing with him. Then he started yelling, 'Where's my dollar? Give my dollar back.'"
Knife pulled: The trio walked away, but apparently returned when they realized Ty was calling 911, the prosecutor said.
Velez held a knife to Ty's neck, leaving two superficial wounds, according to Rozman.
Glacken then punched the victim, causing him to fall and hit his head on the ground. After Ty fell, Velez went through his pockets.
"I think they decided to just mess with him a little bit, and it just got out of hand," Rozman has said. "I don't think anyone intended to do any serious harm. However, the poor guy ended up dying."
Glacken, 44, pleaded guilty in February to involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy to commit robbery. Sims, 48, pleaded guilty to the same charges in October. Both men were sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison.
On April 8, the 23-year-old Velez pleaded guilty to the same charges, as well as to an unrelated charge of aggravated assault for stabbing another man, and was sentenced to a total of 13 to 30 years in prison for both cases, Rozman said.
Forgiven: Depew said he directly addressed Velez at the man's plea and sentencing hearing.
"I told him, 'I've got a gift for you, and the gift is forgiveness,'" Depew said. "In my heart, I don't believe these guys wanted Ty to die. ... But they've got to pay the consequences."
Depew said he told all three men that he forgave them.
"I can't live my life with anger and resentment. It's too much wasted energy," he said. "If Ty had lived, he'd have forgiven them, too. That boy had a real forgiving heart."
Velez's defense attorney, Elisabeth Pasqualini, said Depew's forgiveness brought some peace to her client, who wanted the family to know he never intended for Ty to die.
'Gracious': "It was very humbling to Mr. Velez, and I imagine it must have been humbling to ... Mr. Sims and Mr. Glacken too," she said. "The fact that Mr. Depew was so very gracious -- that he could offer them forgiveness -- made it easier (for Velez) to accept the consequences of his actions."
Pasqualini approached Depew after the hearing at the request of her client.
"She tried to express to me how sorry (Velez) was," Depew said.
"Mr. Velez was genuinely remorseful from the outset," Pasqualini said. "He never denied his involvement, and he's truly sorry Mr. Depew is dead."
She said her client is a gifted artist and a good person, but that his disposition changed when he used alcohol.
Rozman said he understands the Depew family's frustration and that the cases took so long to resolve because defense attorneys needed time to retain experts for a possible trial.
"The wheels of justice do grind slowly," Rozman said, adding a part of him wanted to take the cases to trial.
Slide into addiction: Before alcohol consumed him six or seven years ago before his death, Ty lived what most people consider to be a normal, regular life.
"Ty had a good job. He had his own home," his father said. "He was not a bad man. He wanted to quit, and he tried. He was just so overwhelmed with it. It totally controlled him."
He lost his driver's license because of DUI convictions and eventually lost his job, which led to his slide into homelessness.
Depew still gets choked up thinking about his son and dismissed what he called the politically correct term of "closure."
"I can't stand that word. There's no such thing," he said. "But time does heal you. It does soften your heart."
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.