By Russell Hixson
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Jeremy Sutherland and Dollie Berg had plans.
The Stillwater couple planned to get married at Theta Pond in August after Sutherland’s birthday. They planned to wear pink and black at the ceremony. They planned to settle down and start a family.
Those plans were cut short when Sutherland died in a hospital after being severely beaten in October.
Christopher Dawes, a work acquaintance of Sutherland’s, is charged with first-degree murder and assault and battery by strangulation as Dawes’ girlfriend was also injured in the incident.
“He was my life. He was my everything to me, and Chris took that away and it’s not fair,” Berg said. “I miss [Jeremy] every second of every day.”
She and Sutherland had been dating five years. They met at work, quickly hit it off and soon became inseparable, she said.
Sutherland struggled with alcoholism the first two years of their relationship, Berg said. But through hard work and willpower he turned his life around. He got sober and focused all his love and attention on family. She remembers him as a faithful, loyal fiance and a loving family man.
“Every one of my nieces and nephews knew him as uncle and all my brothers and sisters knew him as brother,” she said. “It’s hard on all of us.”
Sutherland loved teaching his nieces and nephews to play baseball, making them laugh, buying them Slushies and secretly doing their math homework, Berg said.
These memories of her funny, quirky fiance are the ones she tries to hold onto. Like the time she tried to teach Sutherland to catch fish.
“He was so city and I am so country,” Berg said. She laughed remembering his shocked reaction when she told him to put the worm on the hook. She also remembered his beaming smile when he finally did catch a fish even though it was tiny.
Berg’s sister Julia VanBrunt said Sutherland was a selfless person who always looked on the bright side and would not want to see his fiance or family in pain and despair.
Berg said the night Sutherland was beaten after he went out drinking was his first taste of alcohol after three years of sobriety.
“That’s why it’s such a big shock. This wasn’t normal for him,” VanBrunt said.
Berg and VanBrunt said they watched Sutherland fight for four days in a coma before he was taken off life support. They couldn’t speak with him for fear of causing his brain to swell.
Berg said doctors told them Sutherland’s injuries looked like a baseball team had attacked him with bats. He had numerous broken bones, severe head trauma and gravel in his lungs.
Berg said she would like to see her fiance’s assailant serve a life sentence rather than receiving the death penalty if he is convicted. She wants the suspect to spend a lifetime thinking about what he did.
It will do little to ease the pain of losing Sutherland, she said.
Sutherland had a deep love for his mother and father in Arizona, his relatives in Enid and all his brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces on her and his side of the family, she said.
“Every second of every day he is very missed,” Berg said.