Have you ever had a week turn into the crappiest chain of events on the planet? Like you've stepped into a big pile of dragon crap, and then had your head roasted off by the very dragon whose crap you just stepped into? That was my day on Friday!
So, here's what happened...My lawyers informed me that my appeal was filed on the 20th or 21st, and he gave me the impression that it was pretty good. I was pretty psyched to say the least, but it turned out not to be the case...Anyway, some other previous good fortune had come my way by a guy named William Rayford, who is here on death row with me. He told me that the 5th circuit had remanded his appeal back to the Federal court on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim against his trial attorney - who just so happened to be MY trial attorney as well! Over the past decade we've discussed it a lot, and we both agree that he did not do his job effectively. In fact, one of the state's arguments against my claim was that because the trial attorney had previously tried William Rayford's case, he was more than qualified and effective in my trial. Never mind that William Rayford didn't even really have a capital case and was tried FOURTEEN DAYS AFTER HIS INDICTMENT which is just insane!!! How can you even prepare for trial in 14 days???
Basically, that is the state's argument. If the court rules in Rayford's favor I don't see how it can't be of direct benefit for me because the state's argument is moot at that point. I was feeling good. I was hopeful. There appeared to be a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the long wait over the past year.
Friday the 28th came with little fanfare. It was actually a pretty nice day. I was able to get outside when the sun was out. I exercised, bathed in the sun so that I could make a futile attempt to give color to my corpse-like skin, and just enjoy the day. Came in, got straight into the shower and kicked back waiting on the mail. Mail came. There was a large brown envelope but very thin and I thought, "Surely this isn't the appeal that was filed?" I thought it had to be otherwise. Maybe some print outs from the internet. Something else. But when I opened it up my stomach dropped. I saw the cover sheet of the appeal to the Federal court and thought "No.. .this isn't right." I flipped through it and the entire thing was a total of 12 pages and basically a form that was filled out. It was rife with spelling errors, it had my co-defendants' names wrong. It was something I could've gotten out of the law library, filled out myself (and done a better job, if I'm honest) said a few prayers and hoped for the best. To put it all into perspective: My state appeal was HUNDREDS of pages long. HUNDREDS. That is not including exhibits, hearing testimony and countless amendments to the writ. I've had several guys tell me back here that even the crappiest, sleeziest attorneys who are appointed as counsel at the Federal level, do more work than what was done on my behalf. I was literally scared shitless, shaking when I read my so-called appeal. I thought, "Jesus! This guy is trying to get me killed." I'm sure that thrills the pro-death penalty people. It honestly screwed my head up the rest of the night. I'm neurotic enough as it is but my mind was just on emotional over load going 100 MPH.
Fortunately, right now, I'm aorund a few guys who've been through the appeals process and they could guide me in my next steps. We've kind of put together a game plan/strategy on what we need to do, but I have such a limited amount of time to get it done. I've practically been working non-stop since yesterday morning on this. I'm waiting on some other things to get down to me that will help as well. This one guy I'm talking to is exceptional in what he knows about law and it's been a real benefit to be so close to him. One of the things I defintely thank my lucky stars for about being moved around from cell to cell/pod to pod so much. Where I'm so freaking angry at myself is that I have such a basic understanding of appeal law....I had such good state writ attorneys that while I did keep up with everything they did and I know my own case in and out, I think it made me lazy and naive in my trust of the federal attorney. You want to believe that a person is going to do the right thing when there's an abundance of proof/records/testimony that I'm not a killer. You want to lock me up, throw away the key for life? Fine. Is it something I want? No. Is it something I would just accept? Yes. But I shouldn't be killed for something that I didn't do, didn't want to happen and wish didn't happen. I have so much guilt, pain and remorse over it all. Doubters can think otherwise but anyone who knows me, knows this is true. It was a horrible horrible thing. And yeah, I can be goofy and joke around and be a normal person in my daily dealings; I can make bad choices occassionally and do stupid stuff. But it doesn't change the absolute fact that that night and the whole escape isn't right there in my head and something I deal with every day. That's just the truth of it. It doesn't change, however, the fact that I'M NOT A KILLER.
One of the guys who is helping me figure out what to do right now asked me this on Friday night: "Do you want to live?" I said, "Yes " He said, "I'm serious. Do you want to live or die?" I said "I absolutely want to live." I think he was checking my heart and seeing if I was serious about doing what it will take to fight. I am a fighter. I'm a fast learner. I REFUSE to throw the towel in. I can't give up on this...and thank G-D that I have people who love and care for me in my life. I think I can handle this and while I just got smacked upside the head with a very huge set of dragon testicles (thank God I have a sense of humor as well or else I'd be freaking crazier than bath salt smoking cannibals) it's not over. I can hear that old dude in the Rocky movies screaming at me "I didn't hear no bell! Get up ya lazy bum!" Well, I'm up.
I'll keep everyone up to date as best as I can. Please be patient but most importantly - believers or not - pray for me. I really, seriously need it right now.
I've got to get back to work so I'm going to put this in an envelope and get it out. I really do appreciate all those who've shown an interest in my life and me as a person. Whether you've openly expressed it or sat behind the monitor and thought it. I thank you and I hope to be around a long time to come...
March 25th, 2014
The sun is out! Seriously, it is an absolutely beautiful day and I'm feeling pretty good. I'm keeping myself positive because I'm expecting some good news on my Federal Appeals that were filed on 21st March...I know it is like climbing Mt. Everest, but I think I can allow myself a little optimism. I'm trying to stay grounded and not lose sight of the odds or the reality of it all, but I can at least say that I'm pleased because I have honestly been scared to death about it all. To the point I've been having execution dreams again and those are worse than any nightmare on the planet. At least for now, I can breathe a while and wait on the state's response.
Anyways, so my day started this morning at about 5:20am. I went outside to talk with someone and catch up, and to get some exercise. It was still kind of cold for this time of the year in Texas, but it was a beautiful sunrise and I was able to get a really good jog in. I came in to listen to a radio program, and once I finish this, I'm just going to kick back, read a little, maybe do some more exercises, and chill the rest of the evening. I don't really have a lot on my mind because for the past few months it's been kind of anxiety filled so I'm enjoying the blankness of it. Before I close ths particular entry I read a really good op-ed piece about the Director of prisons in Colorado, and he wrote about the experience of being in solitary confinement. It's something everyone should read. The title of the piece is called "My Night In Solitary Confinement" by Rick Raemisch. Look it up and think about it. This is what we deal with - minus t.v.'s etc. on a day to day basis in Texas.
March 24th, 2014
As I write this it is a cool and rainy day. We've been having this weather on and off, and I'm wondering when spring is REALLY going to kick in. Yeah, yeah, I know...with spring comes rain, but with how depressing the winter weather has been, I'm just ready for some sunshine. It's something I've come to crave. To want and need so badly. It's kind of funny, actually; I used to LOVE the grey, the rain. It went hand in hand with my sad and depressing internal narrative...It inspired good, sad music and lyrics. I think that because I've been in solitary confinement for so long now (going on, what 13 years?) I get giddy when sunlight pours through my window. When I can go outside and let the sun bake my pastey white skin, the sun is my God...
I just wanted to say that if there happens to be people still reading along with my journals, that's cool. I'm here to encourage, to discuss - hell, I even accept criticism and attacks. I'll be your verbal punching hag! I'm just here. I'm whatever. With or without you I'm just going to ramble on in my own head. You're there, but you're not. I'm really glad for those that are, though! Thank you!!!
Things have been happening and the constant never ending roller coaster this place can be - well, that ride is still ridin'. I'll get into it all as I write more. And for the record, if it sounds like I'm kind of loopy, it's not that I've lost my mind (first you have to have one to lose ha ha) I'm just trying to get back into the groove of writing/typing and my thoughts are kind of rambling about. But stay tuned and lets see where this wild ride takes us...