From the day I was arrested to the day I was finally released I spent almost 8 years in prison. Two of those years were pretty much during the trial which had multiple delays so I was in limbo for two years. Then the remaining 6 I was on death row at LCI.
I’ve told you about life at LCI or at least talked about it a little bit. For the most part if you are on death row it means you are separated from the rest of the prison population. You are the worst of the worst. But it also means that you will be locked up for about 23 hours of the day. Yes, 23 hours. I got let out once a day for an hour to shower and get some exercise… Exercise doesn’t mean there’s work out equipment it means they take us out into the cages outside and we had a large space to move around but we were still locked up.
The worst thing about being in a cell especially in the hole is hearing your thoughts… I can’t describe it, I just hope you don’t find yourself in that situation ever in your life. Your mind can be your strongest asset but also your worst enemy.
LCI has strict rules and if you break them they tack on serious time in the hole. The most I ever did was 16 days and I just about lost my mind. The most time I ever heard anyone do was 34 days in solitary. Imagine that for a moment. 34 fucking days in solitary. Human beings are not solitary animals. A lot of us think we are. I know I function like that somewhat but the Reeder Brothers live with me so that helps a lot. But no one should be alone like that. We need touch, we need presence to keep us sane but I guess the justice system in this country thinks the hole is an acceptable form of punishment. Trust me on this, I’d rather be executed than left in the hole. The amount of mental damage they are doing to guys in there is indescribable. They are creating monsters that can do nothing but leave damage in their wake.
I witnessed a lot of guys go insane. Some guys did anything and everything they could just to get out and have human interaction and touch, even if it meant just getting their ass beat by guards or going into eval and talking to a head doc… they would take that– that counted for human interaction. Now that’s fucked up.
When I was in the hole. There was this kid there, everyone called him 20. Don’t ask. I don’t know why. Anyway 20 got so fucked up in the hole that he clogged his toilet and let the water overflow and flood his cell then he smeared his own shit on the window of his cell door so the guards couldn’t see inside. The entire time he was doing this he was singing ‘On the Big Rock Candy Mountain.’ It is one of the most harrowing things I’ve ever seen. Guards were afraid he was baiting them in so he would attack them so eventually after a few hours of a standoff they busted in there with major riot gear. 20 had clawed his arms with his fingernails and was bleeding. They slammed him on the ground and hauled him out. Never saw the kid again. I guess he’s probably been institutionalized somewhere or dead. For his sake I hope he’s dead because I don’t see how you can recover from that and be whole.
So during my trial police had a problem with the timeline. The coroner’s office had put the time of Tara’s death at 8:36 PM which was maybe about 20 minutes after I’d spoken with her. The police claimed I went to her house immediately after the call and killed her. Tara lived about 18 minutes away so based on their case it was entirely plausible to make that drive. It would have been tight but not impossible. I was at home alone and had no alibi so it should have been a slam dunk, except somehow fate– luck– whatever you want to call it intervened.
I told you that when I spoke with Tara I knew something was wrong and I was nervous. I thought she was in danger… or I don’t know, maybe I thought she wanted to end things. I was on edge so I wanted to get there as fast as possible. I wasn’t really thinking about what I was doing… Has it ever happened to you that you have somewhere to be and you drive there but when you get there you don’t remember the drive at all? That happens to me a lot. I think I zone out and somehow my instincts take over and that’s what happened that night. I was driving… I guess I must have been speeding because I was pulled over.
I was irritated and annoyed and I got out of my car yelled at the officer and told him I was a cop. I put my hand in my pocket to pull out my badge but guess what… I left the fucking thing at home. I had no proof. If I had my badge he would have let me go but I didn’t and he gave me a ticket. You know the rest of the story of what happened when I got to Tara’s.
So during the trial my attorney said there was no way I could have killed Tara because I was given a ticket and the time on it was 8:56. Here’s the actual ticket that I was issued:
I was home alone so I didn’t have an alibi whatsoever until this ticket. The prosecution argued that since I was a police officer I could retroactively generate a traffic ticket to create alibi for myself. My attorney felt they landed a body blow with that rebuttal then he discovered that there was a traffic camera that had just been installed on Humboldt. All we had to do was get the feed and that became mission impossible. At first they claimed the camera wasn’t in service yet then they said it was having technical issues and didn’t record. But my attorney had a friend in the department that produced the footage for us and when we presented it to the judge. He refused to admit it into evidence because he said the footage wasn’t clear if it was my car or not. The license plate wasn’t really visible and there was no identifying decal on my vehicle. The video was tossed out. This move by the judge killed our case and the jury found me guilty. Crazy thing is I was still getting notifications because I failed to appear in court for the infraction.
All my appeals were denied and about a few weeks before my execution date, a corruption scandal broke. Do you remember reading stories about the school to prison pipeline? You can see one of the articles here.
A few corrupt judges in Mississippi and Texas were busted for targeting black kids and sending them to prison for stupid things like skipping class. These kids would get a few years of prison time plus a fine. It’s one of the most vile abuses of power I’ve ever seen. These judges were being paid by the private prison complex to ensure their beds remained full just so they could bill the state at a higher rate. How callous of a human being do you have to be to ruin a teenagers life just so you can buy a vacation home.
The reason why this scandal was relevant to me is because the judge overseeing my case, Lee Buckner, was was caught up in the middle of it. He had been taking money to ensure a certain percentage of convicts kept some of these private prisons in business. He made 3.2 million dollars from a private deal with three prison. All of a sudden all his cases had to be reviewed, over 4000 of them and most sentences were overturned including mine. I was minutes away from being ripped from this world but somehow fate interceded and had alternative plans for my life or what was left of it.
Private prisons have popped up all over the country with one goal, make money off incarceration and to me that’s a gross neglect of justice because they have infiltrated the justice system to aid them in lining their pockets.
Two of the prisons Buckner had a deal with were owned by a company called Responsible Solutions. Responsible Solutions is a subsidiary of three different companies who own an equal stake in Responsible Solutions. The companies are: LenTech, Singleton and Futures Energy. All these companies are under an umbrella of a larger holding company… you guessed it– Hess Holdings. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or why I keep crossing paths with the Hess family but they have done immense damage to me personally and to thousands in the state in the name of money. It has to stop.