MCKINNEY - Jerry Isgrigg was the only relative who came to a Collin County courtroom to face the woman who pleaded guilty to the murder of her six-year-old grandson.
Isgrigg, a 14 year US Marine, said making a victim impact statement was the second most difficult thing he has done in his life.
He said the first was coping with the death of his son Gerren, who was found dead in a Wylie park in April, 2010.
Isgrigg told the court he failed his son, who was blind, speech and hearing impaired, suffered from a seizure disorder and was fed through a feeding tube.
As he addressed the court, Isgrigg refused to look at his former mother-in-law, Darlene Phillips.
"I still haven't gotten to that phase to bring myself to, in person, look at her," said Jerry. "TV is one thing. But I just can't face her right now. I just can't do it."
The boy's father said he is satisfied with the plea agreement.
Phillips pleaded guilty to Gerren's murder and will receive 28 years in a Texas prison. He said he has empathy for Darlene Phillips, but not for her crime, leaving the boy in East Fork park near Lake Lavon, where he died of exposure and a lack of medical attention.
"As far as being left alone for that time frame and dealing with it, that's probably about the only empathy I have because I know what it takes to take care of him," Jerry said.
Absent from the court hearing, was Nyki Phillips, Gerren's mother and Gerry Isgrigg's ex-wife.
According to court documents, Nyki Phillips asked her mother Darlene to care for the boy for only a few months. That turned into three years.
"It’s amazing to me that after this happened, the parents came out and acted as if they would've done anything for him," said Marc Fratter, Phillips’ attorney. "But the big problem is there's not one shred of evidence that even suggests that in that entire period of time, anybody made any effort to see what was happening in Gerren's life."
Jerry said while the military keeps him away from his family, he made every attempt to make arrangements to see Gerren.
"But unfortunately, it didn't always work out," said Jerry.