I cannot believe it's already the last day of the month. Strange that it would end on a surprise cold front! I woke up and it was freezing, but it made me grateful that at least the guards didn't take our blankets in this year's spring shake down, like they did last year - it still gets cool at night, and I like to wrap myself up.
Well, since Thursday, things have progressed in great ways...I was super stressed and worried about Patrick and the fact that the State intended killing someone who is truly 100% innocent of capital murder...I was also upset that I didn't get to see my attorney, and then waiting on the shake down to happen just compounded everything into one very anxiety-laden day. I didn't want to listen to the Execution Watch program - the one KPFT does on execution dates - as they're always littered with inaccuracies, and sometimes cruel and ignorant comments, but I needed to listen to see what they said about Patrick and myself...Fortunately, it wasn't a bad show at all.
Well, we waited for news as his appeals ended, and nothing had been reported. I kept checking the news throughout the night and hadn't heard a thing! I finally went to sleep and a guard woke me up at 4.30am and said, "Did you hear?"
I rolled over and opened my eyes.
"Did I hear what?" I said, slightly irritated at being woken up...
"Murphy received a stay. He's on C-Pod."
"Wow..." I said in disbelief.
I pulled my blanket back over my eyes and rolled back over. but instead of sleeping, I found myself crying and saying, "Thank G-d!" I didn't know why he had received a stay, but it filled my heart with hope, and I saw it as a breakthrough in the universe...As if it had finally heard us and things would begin to change.
I went up and down the dial on the radio to catch some news about his stay, and at 6 in the morning, on Friday, I finally heard something on NPR about Kavannaugh (of all people) issuing the order, and saying that Murphy's Buddhist monk should be allowed in the execution chamber...That the government should not favour one religion over another. That is the correct interpretation of the constitution, and it gave me some faith in Kavannaugh for the future...We'll see! I had hoped it would be on the Law Of Parties issue, but regardless, a stay is a stay, and it does now give Patrick more time to work on any other issues he might have pending or hadn't resolved.
I was still emotionally over-taxed on Friday, and spent most of the day in a bit of an emotional fog. Actually a better description of how I felt all day long is when I'd be up for over a 24 hour period, when I used to take drugs, and then the next day my body struggled to recover. I just felt blah...
Things improved on Friday evening when we were told the lockdown was officially over, I received mail from my girl saying she'd received the special surprise I'd been working on for her, and an explanation from my attorney about why he never got to see me. It was the Prison's fault, and I'm not happy about that, but I figure they did that to keep me from seeing Patrick leave...I should have expected that to happen.
The evening ended with a call into KPFT's Prison Show, from my girl, and that sent me to sleep with a smile, and with HOPE very much on my heart. We had a hot meal for breakfast on Saturday morning, and then back to normal trays for the rest of the day, and Monday we are going to recreation again!
So, I'm entering into April with a ton of hope and I think things will begin to turn around and get better. I've started reading Tehillim (Psalms) again, which I hadn't done in quite some time. It's a good way to start the day. I just can't believe how quickly this month has flown by though...I mean, it was fast, and now we're entering into the fourth month of the year? Unbelievable!
And if I can geek out a bit here...This is about the time when before a big Star Wars movie release is coming, we start getting more and more information about the movie, and then a trailer is released and the excitement begins to build! Episode VIV comes out in December, so it's time to get the gears turning and the information flowing! I think the movie title and trailer will be released by Force Day (May 4th) so I'm excited! I have confidence that J J Abrams will wrap up the trilogies with a bang, and make fans happy. People complained about Episode VIII, but I don't really understand why...It was a good movie, and lined up perfectly with the other movies, and I hope it will grow on people in time. Some movies just have to have some breathing room and age for a while before people appreciate them.
Well, on this Sunday, I plan to do some reading, some writing, and listening to a classic '80s top 40 music show, and cleaning my cell. Tomorrow I get to go outside and hopefully play some basketball if the weather is okay.
I am entering into April with plenty of...COURAGE. STRENGTH, FAITH AND ABOVE ALL, HOPE!
March 28th, 2019
It's been a long and stressful day so far..,As I write this, I'm waiting on an attorney visit, but I'm stressed and very tired...It's Patrick Murphy's scheduled execution this evening, and I've been listening to news reports and I'm thoroughly disgusted with how inaccurate they've been. I think they've relied heavily upon the opinion of the lead prosecutor, Toby Shook, for interviews, and he has skewed all of the facts and in some instances, outright lied about us. The only thing they've gotten right in the reporting is saying that Patrick was not a shooter. However, the Texas State Network news reported he was the only person that didn't shoot. That just isn't true, because I did NOT shoot either! Here's the facts: ONLY five guns were ever fired that evening...You had 7 people, with Patrick not at the scene of the shooting. He did NOT set up an ambush, as Toby Shook said! And he certainly did NOT tell anyone else to shoot! That's completely untrue...All he said was "Get out of there." Period. Furthermore, anyone with any common sense knows that 6 people did not fire 5 guns! I've ALWAYS said from DAY ONE that I never even pulled a gun...I never used a gun, and the majority of my co-defendants said in their personal statements after our initial capture, that I was NOT a shooter. Then later, in affidavits, they reaffirmed what they had said. THOSE ARE THE FACTS! But don't just take my word for it, look it up for yourself.
I don't know how or why executing someone who didn't shoot can be defined as "justice" in any way. You want to lock up Murphy and I for the rest of our lives, and throw away the key? Fine! I'll accept that and I'll accept punishment for my own mistakes. But we are NOT killers! How does that even fit the whole "eye for an eye" thing? And for those who say it fits, think about this: you've got about 10% of all so-called killers locked up on death row, when the other 90% are in general population watching TVs, having jobs, and receiving contact visits, and access to telephone calls....That's fair? The system is fair? We don't even practice what we preach in this State - everyone is a hypocrite! I'm emotionally exhausted and disgusted with the way people can be sometimes...You can have your illusion (delusion) of "justice."
Anyway, more later...
I got almost no sleep last night. The guards woke us up at 2am for breakfast, then at 2.30am for juice, then at 3am for cereal. It was like they were playing with us - they kept turning the cell lights on and off all night long. Then, at 3.50am they started doing showers! I got to sleep some time after 4am only to be yanked out of my sleep again at 7.30, with the sergeant yelling at me to wake up because it was shake down time. They pulled us out and took us to empty cells on C-Pod for about an hour, and when I returned to my cell it looked like a tornado went through a trailer park! Things were thrown everywhere, and someone had opened my baby powder and poured it all over the place. I was royally pissed! I asked the sergeant, "Do you just tell them to throw crap everywhere?" He said, "Do you really think we do that? If you think something is wrong, don't be smart about it...Just tell me." So, I apologized for being sarcastic, but was like, "This is unnecessary." He said he'd tell the guards to stop and respect our stuff in future.
Well, as I began to clean my cell up I noticed they threw away my vitamins and my shower bag...For the life of me I don't know why, but whatever! It can be replaced. I have the things that are important to me, and it's very small in comparison to someone losing their life.
So, this afternoon I watched them take Patrick to Huntsville, and load him into the van. There was the usual crowd, but it wasn't a circus like it typically can be. It seemed to be a bit more serious/sombre, and in my imagination I hoped that maybe these people feel it's morally wrong to participate in the killing of someone who didn't kill anyone...I don't know. There were no slaps on the back and handshakes like there was on poor Billy Coble's date...Patrick looked at peace. When the van pulled away, everyone walked off and that was that.
As I type this, I'm still waiting on a legal visit with my attorney. It was supposed to be today.
Later now...the legal visit never happened. I don't know why.
7pm...So far, no execution...I'm hoping and praying it doesn't happen. Patrick did an interview with KPFT and said I was not a shooter, and it meant a lot to me because it's the truth.
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
March 26th, 2019
Into the second day of the third week of the lockdown...They started off doing showers this morning, and were then supposed to begin shaking down on E-Pod. They finished shaking down F-Pod yesterday, so they were on track to finish the building up by early next week. I got my shower around 7am and then they grabbed the next guy in line who is in 3 cell, and brought him back. After that, everything stopped. They've not done a single shower since, and they haven't been shaking down either, so it puts them another day behind...Sigh.
On the plus side, a group of ministers came around passing out bibles and some Life Saver candy! I don't think I've had those candies since the 1980s! They brought back a flood of memories from growing up in Arlington, Texas...My mom worked in Dallas and wouldn't be home until around 6 in the evening, so my dad would often cook dinner - he was a really good cook! We'd be waiting on mom to get home before we could eat, and I'd help set the table and put out the milk and apple juice...Mom always brought back a little snack or surprise from work for Wesley and I, and most of the time it was either a roll of Life Savers, or another candy of the same brand that was square, chocolate, and mint flavoured. When we'd get the regular Life Savers though, I always demanded the pineapple flavor! So, when I got the roll I immediately ripped it open and went straight to the pineapple loops...I was like a little kid for a few minutes as it dissolved on my tongue...Happy memories!
I'll give the new warden some credit - he has been allowing more ministers back here on 12 building. The last couple of wardens had this place tighter than a pro-wrestlers butt cheeks! I do wish they'd allow representatives from other religions back here though, for the Muslims and Jews, and even Buddhist monks etc. I think it does a lot of good, and lifts morale to have those free world people come back here and show us that there are people who care about them, even if the motive is to 'save' one's soul.
It's an absolutely beautiful day and I'm longing to be outside. I was watching the sunrise this morning, and birds were pecking around in the grass. Then, later in the afternoon, I saw my first butterfly of the season! I don't know what kind it was, but it was bright orange and really pretty. There were some birds perched on the chain link fence eyeballing it, and I was worried it was about to become lunch, but they let it fly away.
Otherwise, I'm in relatively good spirits and full of love...Oh, man, I have to describe this picture I received from my girlfriend! I cannot explain how happy it makes me when I look at it because it is so freakin' cute! Her best friend had a son last year, and the little fella is adorable as it is. Well, everyone knows what a huge Star Wars fan I am so they dressed him up as Yoda, and waited for just the right moment to take a picture of him! I almost died from cuteness overload!!
Anyway, I'm still holding onto...
Courage. Strength, Hope and Faith.
March 23rd, 2019
Week two of the lock down has almost wrapped up and the word on the street is we are looking at another week to a week and a half of this thing! It sucks being cooped up in the cell all day long, but they are giving us regular trays for our meals and I did have that special visit this past week which rebooted me in a lot of ways...I'm in decent enough spirits right now.
So, a friend and I noticed a strange trend that's growing amongst the guards and several ranking officers here on death row. They've been wearing a version of a 'death's head' patch, or a skull and crossbones...It clearly represents death (as they are working on death row, or enforcers of 'death') and it's eerily reminiscent of the Nazi SS death squads and their 'death's head' symbols and adornments. Besides all of that, I'm fairly certain that as a representative of the State they aren't allowed to have adornments on their uniform that aren't either officially a part of their uniforms like, say, a patch made up of the State or US flag, or State seals. I remember years ago when officers had started making name plates on their uniforms that had logos of their favorite sports teams, and the warden told them to remove them. Why is it that they can wear a 'death's head???' They don't even take part in executions...They are guards...Their only duty is the security of the institution - that's it.
Anyway, I decided it would be worthy of a grievance being filed - we'll see if it goes anywhere. If you are for the death penalty, fine, whatever...Just don't go around wearing Nazi symbolism. It's disgusting! Trump's America though, right?
And so the weekend is here and I'm spending it catching up on things and trying to keep busy. I wanted to mention an orphanage in Honduras that I think is worthy of support from people. One of my close friends spent some time recently helping out there, and in light of all the immigration craziness, and the horror of people having to escape the most extreme violence in places like El Salvador and Honduras, it's so uplifting to see that there's a glimmer of light in such violent places...The orphanage is called "Our Little Roses" and you can find out more about it by clicking on the following link Our Little Roses. My friend told me that the time spent with those little girls was medicine her heart really needed, and so I have to get behind something like that!
I'm hoping and praying that Patrick Murphy receives a stay of execution...[Note from Webmaster: Thankfully, Patrick did receive a stay on the grounds he was denied the presence of his chosen religious representative at his execution, but he's not out of danger yet...We are still fighting to reform the Law Of Parties, and the fact that Patrick definitely was NOT one of the shooters, and wasn't even at the scene]. It's going to be another heart wrenching and soul torturing week, but I'm going to try to remain as hopeful and positive as I can be...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
March 20th, 2019
Spring is finally here! I love the winter, I love the cold and grey skies, I love that feeling of it all. But...I have to equally appreciate the warmth (not extreme Texas heat!) but the sunshine, the fact that everything is coming alive again. Wild flowers, green grass, beautiful green trees, and birds everywhere. I love it all! It's a rebirth of sorts...It gives me hope.
As I write this we're on the second week of our lockdown; I think it's expected to last for another week or so. The one good thing about it, this time around, is whilst we started off with sack lunches every meal, we are not receiving hot meals. Believe me, even a bad tray beats a sack lunch with nothing but peanut butter and jelly, and bologna sandwiches. I'm grateful for it.
Monday and Tuesday I had special visits with a very close friend - someone my dearly departed friend and mentor, David, introduced me to 15 years ago. It was wonderful to catch up and talk about all manner of things, but also to get out of the cell for a couple of days...Escape the insanity of this place and feel human. It's kind of like resetting the mental button.
For the most part though, these days have been filled with writing, and kicking it with my friend, Blaine, listening to music and other radio programs, and just goofing around.
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
March 14th, 2019
I'm about to write something extremely controversial...it might even turn people away from supporting me, or reading my journals, but the truth must be spoken and it's a risk I have to take! If I offend anyone, I'm truly sorry, but I can no longer bite my tongue...
I don't get Lady Gaga...There. I said it and I feel soooo much better! I woke up to one of her songs on the radio and I swear it sounded like a wounded goat singing...Miley Cyrus as well....I almost want to call PETA because it seriously sounds like animals being tortured. Just because you can sing in key doesn't mean you can sing. Also, when I hear interviews about people talking about 'their art' it makes me want to bang my head against the wall! A real artist doesn't have to talk about their 'craft' or being an artist, they just produce art...They put it out into the world and let it speak for itself.
So, we're on day four of the lockdown that began on Monday. I wish I could say that I've taken advantage of it and been knocking out chapters for my memoir and finally have it finished, but I've been kind of low-energy of late...I am using today as a 'reboot' though, and I'm really going to put my head down and work. I want to finish this memoir because now all I can think about in terms of writing, is another memoir centered around my childhood. It'll be more upbeat, funny, and full of happier memories of my younger life. I've settled on a title: "When All I Have To Give Is Love."
My girlfriend (who I love more than anything in the world!) told me that she posted YouTube links to my memoir mix tape, so that people could hear the songs I listened to a lot in 1995/1996, and I hope people will check that out! I'm sure it won't be suited to everyone's taste, but hopefully it will set a certain tone...I thought it was an excellent idea of hers to add those links.
Well, I woke up this morning and the sun was breaking through again. I think they said it was going to be 78F, and I wish I could get outside to enjoy it. I'm just sick of rain! It rained all afternoon yesterday, and I am just tired of it.
This lockdown is expected to last a while and they've not even begun to do the shakedowns on death row, so we're in it for the long haul. I'll be fine though...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
March 10th, 2019
As I write this, the sky is a mixture of grey and blue outside of my window...The sun battling it out with the clouds. It does feel like an early spring and very humid kind of day.
The last few days have been on the chaotic side again, with first shift only arranging about 3 rounds of recreation, leaving second shift over 70 plus showers, which means they were forced to cancel the remaining recreation periods. Officers are quitting all the time because they are tired of the nonsensical "policies" that have no basis in safety or security, as well as micro-management and being treated like 3rd class citizens by their supervisors and the warden. Who would want to work under these conditions? I don't like jerks, and have my own issues with lazy guards, but I can also empathize with those who work for the state and who are just trying to do their job and feed their families. The State wonders why they can't get people to work in prisons? The answer is right under their noses! Even their own officer union representative told the Houston Chronicle, "The problem isn't the offenders - it's the system" (to paraphrase).
Anyway, I've been a little irritated over the past few days because I don't like it when people I haven't written to in a very long time - whether they just stopped writing or we just never made a friendship connection - turn around and post things like pictures etc, as if we are still pen pals. It feels like I'm being taken advantage of, or they're capitalizing on my situation. It makes me very uncomfortable, and I don't like pictures of me being posted without my permission...I don't know...It just bothers me. I have other thoughts about things this "world" invites, but I'll keep those to myself. I'm very happy with the people I choose to have in my life, the people I care about and value. I don't need anything more than that in my life at this point - my long established friendships, and the love of my life, my Taffy, is all I really want or need.
On a more upbeat note, I'm looking forward to some very special visits, and I'm super excited! Here's to holding onto courage, strength, hope and faith...I pray this week will be a good one...
March 4th, 2019
Monday...It's grey and extremely cold, and the latest weather report says it'll be even colder tomorrow. I'm scheduled for 4th round with my friend, Big Will, but I'm wondering if we'll even get there...It's looking like it will be second shift at this point, if it doesn't get cancelled. They've only done one round of recreation and it's almost noon!
I've been working on my memoir, and things are accelerating now as I move closer to the end. It's getting tougher, and much harder to deal with the emotion and knowing I can do nothing to stop what happened. I've also updated the soundtrack for the memoir, and written a new poem, "Like I'm Doing Wrong" which is included in the poems/lyrics section of the website, under "New Poems for 2019." I love having these little creative spurts, even if they don't happen as much as they once did.
For the most part I'm trying to fight off anxiety and trying to remain hopeful for things to come...I have to try to stay calm, and I do trust in G-d that things will work out in the end...But my anxiety worsens when I hear of so many people being denied their appeals, and I'm also dreading the onslaught of media misinformation and bad reporting that may come when my co-defendant, Patrick Murphy, nears his execution date towards the end of the month. I pray to G-d that mercy will be shown to Patrick...It's so hard on the heart and soul when you have no control over the narrative the media and the State apply to your case, when all you want is the truth to be upheld...
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.
March 3rd, 2019
Sunday morning, and it's another grey day...PLEASE can we have some sunshine??? I'm sick of no sunlight!
Well, the weekend has been a bit on the boring side. The radio antenna has been acting up since yesterday - we're getting weird noises and and can't pick up a lot of our stations, which sucks. I love listening to a program called "Live From Here" on NPR, Saturday evenings. It's a really music-centic program, and they have a lot of great live bands on the show, but I had to miss it yesterday, and it doesn't look like I'll be able to catch the repeat today. The guards said something about having the antenna reset on Monday, by maintenance. Sigh...
I was a bit down on Friday night because I was listening to the Prison Show and they were giving out the death row news and appeals information for those of us back here. I was shocked by the number of people who are done with their appeals, or are going into the Supreme Court...It freaked me out. I mean, if Texas Counties really wanted to, they could wipe out most of death row right now! Fortunately most don't have the stomach for it anymore, or the resources. You'd think politicians would see this, but they ignore the signs that most people aren't as interested in the death penalty as advocates "for" would have you believe. That being said, it's still scary to think about...Someone down the run said, "Geeze, those aren't the death row angels...they're the angels of death!" Referring to the women who give us the updates on the Prison Show...Sheesh!
Another thing that upset me is how the system is really a game of chance. There's a guy who received a Certificate of Appealability, but that same guy has openly admitted to killing - and even laughs about it - and the 5th Circuit grants him action on a mere technicality??? Yet, some of us back here never killed anyone and receive denial after denial...It makes no sense how they rule on these things.
Well, I just have to keep telling myself to remain positive and hopeful. I want to enter into this month with hope and faith.
Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith!
March 1st, 2019
The State has killed another person: a 70 year old man...He was NOT any kind of continuing threat to society, so yet another mindless killing by the State.
Yesterday, I watched as they took Billy Coble from the visitation building and down the sidewalk, surrounded by guards, wardens, ranking officers, and spectators. I've not witnessed this sickening ritual - the long walk to the van that takes a person to the death house/execution chamber - in quite some time, and my stomach churned as I watched men shake hands, pat shoulders, smile and laugh...all in front of Billy, who had a terrible look of grief on his face. Yet, he stood stoic and proud - no slouching or slumping of his shoulders.
Billy had changed a lot over the years - guards liked him, inmates liked him...Over the years he'd had several heart attacks, and he was in poor health, frail, but very much alive. I'm not sure what executing him proves, other than showing the rest of the world how insane and fanatical the Texas Governor can be...Killing a 70 year old man...Something to be proud of...Good job!
In other news, yes, it's been a mess of a day...They only did 3 rounds of rec on first shift, so second shift cancelled the rest of recreation due to "too much work." That's the second time this week the guys upstairs were screwed out of recreation, and yet, no one will file a grievance! They'll complain and threaten violence - mostly empty threats - but I still try to discourage that talk...It's stupid, and won't solve anything. But when you tell them to file a grievance and get it on record, they say, "Oh man, that crap doesn't work!" FRUSTRATING! We're our own worst enemies at times...Our sense of community is waning :-(
Well, the skies are still grey and dark...Will the sun ever stay out for a long period of time?