Date: 2/7/2019 11:41:22 PM
'BEYOND MISTAKEN IDENTIFICATION'
On January 16, 1981, after serving nearly three years, I was released from prison in Illinois, and went to live with an aunt and uncle, in Oak Lawn, Chicago. My wife divorced me a few months before my release, and was living near my parents in Hudson, Florida, with my two children. Upon my release all I had to my name was some clothes, about $50.00 in case and my cherished guitar, I had been fortunate enough to be able to keep with me during my prison stay. The one thing I missed the most while I was incarcerated, was being able to play my guitar and sing for my children. I would dream about, when once more I'd see their smiling faces as I'd asked them what song they wanted me to play and sing when I would tuck them into bed at night. Only I knew it would be a while since they were in Florida, with their mother and I had three years of parole to serve in Illinois and it would take time to rebuild my life. A major thing I did have working in my favour was the fact of being a very good plumber. I even worked at my trade while in prison at Menard penitentiary and at Chester a converted insane asylum above Menard which was death row in Illinois at the time. Where I worked on the plumbing of the infamous John Wayne Gacy's cell, but that's another story.
Winters in Chicago, gets mighty cold, especially in January, and one night while enjoying my freedom I walked to a tavern even though the wind chill factor was around thirty-one below zero. It was at that time I told myself I had had enough of the cold Chicago weather as I packed what clothes I had into a duffel bag, grabbed my guitar and took off hitchhiking for Florida. I didn't know what I'd find when I got there, but I knew it had to be warmer than Chicago, plus it was where my children were!
While in prison I read up on computer technology, and wanted to get into word processing, as I had the desire to become a self-published author and write a science fiction book series. I would dream of cutting and pasting at the push of a button, instead of writing and rewriting in longhand, and I knew in my heart I would be able to do it! I only had to work at it and figure out how to achieve my goal. After a grueling twenty hours of hitchhiking I made it to Florida, and I went to my parents' place in Holiday. I didn't expect much help from them, but needed a place to stay and knew I could count on them for at least a bed and some food. What I didn't expect, was the deplorable conditions I would find my children in. It hurt me to the bone, as I started to learn the truth of how my now ex-wife lost everything, even our car to the man she trusted with all our assets from the sale of our house, in Illinois. She even had his child, but what hurt me even worse was her unrelenting refusal to allow me to move in with her and the children. Since I didn't have any transportation, and they were living five or more miles away from my parents' place. I was beginning to experience deep despair, as the feeling of helplessness started to set in.
My being a full blooded Cherokee, with a dark complexion and having been raised by a white step-father, in predominantly white neighborhoods, meant I had grown-up no stranger to racism. Now, I was in an area of primarily white conservatives, and knew I stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. Adding to my problems was the fact I had no money, or transportation as I was forced to walk or hitchhike to get around. Plus my prospects of finding work without transportation seemed grim, as it was dawning on me the horrible mistake I made!
Then one night, shortly after my arrival in Florida, my stepfather took me to a country/western bar. Which was the music I mostly played on the guitar and sang. Anyway, I got the hint/idea as I started to dance with the single woman. Each time after finishing a dance, when I'd returned to my table to sit and talk with the only man I ever called father, flashes of light would come from across the barroom to catch my eye. The barroom was dimly lit, so I was unable to see who was signaling me, but it wouldn't be long before I'd find out. I knew when I got ready to use the men's room, I would have to pass by where the flashes of light were coming from. When I did get up to use the men's room, to my surprise I seen it was an attractive woman with three diamond rings on her left hand, she been using to flash me. I nodded at her, before entering the men's room and I decided I'd ask her to dance when I was done. Once more she flashed me when I existed the men's room, and I approached her. We both smiled, and it was on from there; she was mine as we didn't waste any time. The next day I was living with her on Clearwater Beach and in heaven.
Now I had a way and was already working on plans to get my children out of poverty. Barbara was congenial to my situation, just as I would be to hers as I learned of her separation and pending divorce/ Barbara turned out to be a well educated and highly sophisticated ex-career military wife, who practiced her private secretarial skills across Europe and Asia. She was also sixteen years my senior, that happened to have a very good plastic surgeon who made her appear ten years younger than her actual age. Our first mutual attraction was purely sexual, and I believe it surprised us both at how well we got along. Barbara never made me feel like she was out of my league and we communicated about everything, even the fact I had absconded from parole in Illinois, to be with my children!
Barbara was also the mother of three children. Her oldest son, (Butch) Robert Jr was about four years younger than me, then came Bobby, her married daughter, who had two children of her own, and Greg, her teenage son who was still living with his father, a prominent real estate agent. I met, and got to know all of her children, as they came to accept their mother and I as a couple. Butch would later become a problem for us, as his father would seek to use him to come between his mother and I. Especially he found out I learned of his secret of illicitly using Barbara's name in his real estate transactions, to avoid paying taxes.
Skipping ahead to September 1982, Barbara and I are getting along well enough together, even though we are struggling financially. We have decided to put her duplex on Clearwater Beach up for sale and are asking for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in hopes of clearing at least one hundred thousand dollars with a quick sale, allowing us to be able to get back on the road again, in style! We have spent a lot of time planning our final departure from sunny Florida, and are excited to say good riddance, as we think about how great it will feel to be back on the road. We are not strangers to living on the road, with the freedom to roam at will while enjoying each other's company. Only this time instead of having her oldest son, Butch, imposing himself on us, together Barbara and I will be home schooling my two children Michael Junior (my little buddy), Native name 'Feather of an Eagle', and Rosemarie (Rosie Rose), Native name "Feather of Eagle's Eye". I say this time, because we had been planning our departure for what seems like ages and after our test run to California in a converted 1950 Chevy school bus (aptly named 'The Tank'). Proved successful for us, our plans of pulling a trailer behind a crew cab pick-up truck would be a breeze by comparison!
When Barbara and I first came up with the idea of selling her duplex and leaving Florida, it was shortly after her husband greatly reduced her support payments. Making it impossible to continue living the comfortable lifestyle of what can best be described as minimal retirement income. Barbara knew how hurt I was in not being able to find meaningful employment and provide for my children. She'd seen their living conditions and we even had them come and stay with us on the beach during the summer. Here I was a master journeyman plumber, unable to find work except for detailing cars part time. So when we came up with the plan of putting the duplex on the market to purchase a mobile home and travel to California, where I would obtain a personal computer/word processor in order to pursue my goal of becoming a self published science fiction book author. We didn't see any problems, especially since everything I ever read about personal computers and word processing came from California, it made sense in my mind that was the place to get one.
We felt good about our plans and were anxious to sell the duplex to get back on the road, as soon as possible. I already had a number of notebooks full of longhand from years of putting together the idea of self publishing a science fiction book series, and after reading them, Barbara agreed to be the proxy author as we searched out the best ways to print and market the first book. We knew it was going to be a long shot, and we weren't fooling ourselves, but we agreed to work together and to succeed, as we budgeted for one year to get the first three books published, even if it only meant we started with fifty thousand copies of each book we would at least own the copyrights. We already knew from our trial run to California how to budget and subsist on limited funds, so we knew we'd still have funds at the end of our first year to make other plans if need be. As we hoped to catch the attention of an established publisher to buy us out before the end of our first year.
The way we saw it, we really had nothing to lose, as we felt blessed to be able to experience the adventure of a lifetime, travelling around the United States, stopping anywhere we wanted, and as we lived a carefree gypsy lifestyle! Maybe it would only turn into a pipe dream, but we liked the fact that it was of our making...
Now that I have established some background information, this essay of 'Beyond Mistaken Identification' actually beings in October of 1982. When a Clearwater, Florida police detective entered my bedroom on Clearwater Beach and roughly shook me out of an unconscious stupor which I now have no doubt was caused by a severe concussion. This having occurred when an unknown assailant struck me on the back of my head outside Clearwater Bar and in the process of the attack also severely breaking my nose to the point it bled profusely from both nostrils covering my clothing in my blood. Then the police detective who roughly woke me out of my stupor stood above me with his gun pointed at my head, continually asking me my name, until I responded, smiled when I did, and told me I was under arrest for murder. And now my 36 year living nightmare began!
After the police detective told me I was under arrest for murder, and this living nightmare began, all my hopes and dreams came crashing down around me! I lost everything, even the love and respect of my children, who to this day blame me for their abandonment. Which adds to the pain and suffering I endure.
At first when the detective told me I was under arrest for murder, I really wasn't that concerned; I knew I hadn't killed anyone, and I immediately thought of the threats Butch (Barbara's oldest son) made to kill the guy he fought with three times that night. Little did I know that it was Butch that had been killed, and that I was being accused of killing him - something I now know. This sent me into shock, and later caused me a mental breakdown, as I repeatedly told the police that I didn't kill Butch, or anyone else, and that they had the wrong guy, only to be told they had four eyewitnesses, Butch's blood all over me, two people saying I told them I did it, and asked them to provide me with an alibi.
Later, no matter how many times I swore to the attorneys who were assigned to represent me that none of the evidence was true, because it wasn't me, there wasn't anything I could say or do to convince them I was telling the truth. I had no way to dispute the evidence they kept telling me was overwhelming as to my guilt, except to repeatedly say over and over that it wasn't me. Yet every time I'd asked to see the police reports, eyewitness statements, blood test results and the statements of the two alleged alibi witnesses, I would be given the run around.
The one thing that kept me from going totally insane was the fact Barbara came to the jail and told me she believed me, and she was going to hire a private attorney to represent me as soon as she could sell the duplex. Then the day before Barbara closed on the sale, the judge forced me to trial and would only give me a continuance if I changed my plea from innocent, to innocent by reason of temporary insanity. I refused, and the farce and mockery of what is recorded as my trial began. But not before I learned the four eyewitnesses had identified me by picking my photo out of an array of five photos. To my surprise, when I asked to see the photo array, the attorney went and got it for me. I quickly pointed out to the attorney how highly suggestive the photo array was, as my photo stood out amongst the four photos. My photo showed me looking crazy with messed up long black hair, deeply bloodshot eyes and a full, black beard, while the other four photos were of normal looking white men with long brown hair and full beards. I immediately asked for a hearing on the highly suggestive photo array, and just knew the judge would have to grant me a continuance, since here was evidence that brought into question the eyewitness identification of me. To my horror the judge only allowed two eyewitnesses to testify. The first eyewitness recanted her identification by stating she wasn't sure I was the person she'd seen, while the second eyewitness said yes, I definitely was the person she'd seen commit the murder that night. The judge then ruled that even though the photo array could be considered highly suggestive, she would allow the eyewitnesses to testify at trial. With me standing midway through the trial after the eyewitness testimony to shout to the jury that I was being railroaded, but to no avail, as to my dismay the evidence was presented as overwhelming as to guilt! And a few short weeks later I would find myself here, on Florida's Death Row, still maintaining my innocence. Proof of which came to light in 1987, after my death warrant was signed and a wealth of withheld exculpatory evidence was discovered that totally disputed the evidence used to convict me. Only the nightmare would continue, when the trial judge would misstate the facts and only give me a partial evidential hearing on the resentencing issues only. Stating even that if she threw out the eyewitness testimony and the blood evidence, she still had the evidence of the couple who said I had told them I killed Butch and asked them to provide me with an alibi, which she falsely reasoned their testimony alone would have been enough to obtain a conviction. Now the railroad job was continuing into the appellate process as my nightmare grew darker and more sinister. Since a whole pattern of criminal corruption began to reveal itself, within Florida's legal system to obtain and maintain convictions by any means possible. Even if it meant innocent people would suffer, and be executed!
Let's go over the exculpatory eyewitness evidence that came to light. The first police officer on the scene took a collective description of the perpetrator from the eyewitness who said they had seen them commit the murder. All four eyewitnesses agreed the person they saw was white, with somewhat long brown hair. But for some reason, the police officer was never deposed or questioned as to the eyewitnesses' initial descriptions, so the fact the eyewitnesses had later changed their description to fit me after being shown the highly suggestive photo array didn't come to light at the hearing to suppress the highly suggestive photo array or at trial. Plus, there was a tape recording made of three of the eyewitnesses, again stating the person they saw commit the murder was white, with no mention of facial hair other than one saying she thinks the person she saw may have had a thin mustache. While evidence also came to light that the one eyewitness who positively identified me as the person she saw commit the murder from the photo array, after stating the person she saw was white, with no mention of facial hair, drew a composite drawing that night that mysteriously disappeared. None of this came to trial and to this day I've been denied a hearing to prove the wrongful identification.
You may now begin to question why I've never been given an evidential hearing to prove I did not receive a fair and impartial trial. I suggest it is because the couple who testified I had told them I committed the murder initially denied having any knowledge of the crime, and were Butch's roommates. While the male of the couple fitted the eyewitness description to a t, including a thin mustache - as evidenced by a police mug-shot taken a few week's prior to the murder. I also learned this couple were involved in another murder case prior to mine, and to this day no one will tell me about that case. What also came to light after I was wrongfully convicted, is that another one of this couple's roommates was murdered, and they pointed their fingers at someone else, who maintains his innocence too.
Only I was not told of this other murder case at the time of my appeal, when my death warrant was signed in 1987, and wouldn't find out about it until 1996, when I would meet the other guy the couple helped to railroad, in order to help conceal the fact that they themselves were possibly the perpetrators of both murders! Other things I've learned that were being concealed was the fact another first degree murder case was on appeal when my death warrant was signed, and the main issue being raised in that case was that the same detective that concealed evidence in my case was guilty of misconduct in the other case too. That person received an evidentiary hearing and was released, while I was denied an evidentiary hearing and remain on death row.
Also, there was a jailhouse snitch who was used in over 50 cases (nine of which were murder cases that brought about convictions that sent them to death row). None of these other cases have been able to show a pattern of misconduct, especially sine the state has provided those convicted with representation to assure the evidence, showing how a pattern of this corrupt legal system has been able to achieve and maintain convictions by any means possible, would not come to light!
I am now telling my story in hopes of finding help to reach the masses that make up the court of public opinion, to ask why Florida's legal system has, and continues to, get away with suppressing and oppressing the truth of my innocence! Which is evident by the record that shows the State of Florida has refused to provide me with attorneys to argue the evidence of my actual innocence. Something society should be shocked to learn, as the state of Florida has been getting away with concealing th facts proving my innocence for well over 36 years, with impunity!
Please don't allow my story to end here. Help put me in touch with the masses that make up the court of public opinion and turn the evidence that goes beyond mistaken/wrongful identification into the evidence that finally vindicates me...
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