LAKE HAVASU CITY – He was a sports fan, a computer whiz, a loving son and grandson. He worked at a Lake Havasu City business, enjoyed playing poker and took in an occasional movie.
His mother said that before the day that police bullets took his life, Michael Judge had “never raised his voice or a hand towards another.”
Jackie Parrish said her son would simply walk away from confrontations.
But Oct. 25, 2004, was a day that some might think contradicts a mother’s observations.
Born in Wyoming in 1970, Judge soon moved to Alaska, where he grew up and graduated from high school. Following high school, Judge relocated to Phoenix, where he attended the DeVry Institute and pursued his love of computers.
“He loved computers,” said Parrish. “He was so good with them.”
However, Judge, 34, began to run short of money and dropped out to work full-time. About this time, Judge purchased a handgun after developing a love of target shooting.
In September 1995, while crossing a street in Phoenix, Judge was struck head-on by a vehicle and was thrown to the pavement. Quick action by paramedics saved his life, but he would spend the next six months in a coma.
Parrish said it took a long time to nurse her son back to health and that he had to relearn how to walk and talk due to the injuries he sustained to his brain.
“For nine years we worked together,” said Parrish.
“You can’t imagine how close we were emotionally.”
Gradually, Judge got better, but Parrish said he retained the mind and personality of a teenager. “He was an adult with hardships who needed help,” said Parrish. “He was not mentally handicapped.”
While he lived in Phoenix, Judge became a huge Arizona Diamondbacks fan. “He loved Junior Spivey,” said Parrish. “He’d always go on eBay looking for Junior Spivey sports cards.”
When he watched a game on television, “you could hear him cheering for them ... no matter where you were in the house,” she said. Judge also loved former NFL quarterback Joe Montana, no matter what team he played for.
Judge eventually was able to earn an associates degree in computer technology from Mohave Community College in 1999 as well as several specialized certificates, according to Parrish. She said he was skilled at creating databases and organizing files so that even the technologically illiterate could easily understand.
However, trying to find a job in the computer industry proved difficult during the “dot.com bust” and Judge remained dependent on his family and the government. “Mike wanted a life of his own,” said Parrish. “He didn’t want to be dependent on anybody.”
Judge eventually found work at the Alex Ross State Farm Insurance agency in town, but told his mother that some of the employees hadn’t been treating him well. Police interviews after Judge’s death confirm that some of his co-workers weren’t comfortable around him. Agency owner Alex Ross was not available to comment for this article.
Judge’s last message to his mother the day he was killed suggests that he was unhappy in his job as well.
Looking back on the whole situation, Parrish said she doesn’t want her son to be remembered for one tragic day in October 2004. “He was a person, not a statistic,” she said.
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