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Monday, May 31, 2010

My Cell Mate's Birthday -- April 19, 2010

This morning, my sleep was undisturbed by my cell mate. In fact, when I awoke, I was alone in the cell. My cellmate, Jon, sometimes goes to the barbershop school early. He will leave at 6 a.m. on Mondays and Fridays. It was nice to wake up to a cell by myself. I wish I always had a single-man cell. However, this is not a possibility at Stateville, or anywhere in the Illinois Department of Corrections, except Pontiac segregation or Tamms supermax. Although Jon can sometimes be annoying and his politics are anathema to me, he is a good cellmate to have. At Stateville, it is particularly difficult to get a cellmate you are not fighting with, let alone get along with. Jon is respectful, polite, and considerate. Today is his birthday, and I was going to go out of my way to show my appreciation.

Yard was run this morning not long after count cleared at about 8:30. I was not going because my gallery and the one above mine were scheduled for small yard today. There are two small yards used at Stateville for general population. They are not really yards, but two basketball courts surrounded by a cyclone fence and razor wire. Recently, a chin-up bar was put on the small yards, but I had devised a way to do chin-ups in my cell, and there was nothing for me to do out there. I did not want to play basketball, nor did I want to socialize. The small yard is cramped and I do not like going out there. I am much more content to stay in my cell and exercise to one of my cassette tapes.

Before I worked out, I watched the morning news programs. Today was the anniversary of the Waco massacre and the Oklahoma City bombing. I clearly remember the burning of the Branch Davidian Compound 17 years ago. I, like many people, were bothered by growing Big Brother government. The enormous use of force, including hundreds of FBI and ATF agents to arrest one man, David Koresh, was outrageous. When an assault vehicle resembling a small tank rammed the house sending incendiary grenades that lit the building on fire, I was appalled. Yes, the group had a death wish, but the response by government was uncalled for.

The Waco massacre enraged many people, including Timothy McVeigh, who later was to bomb the Murrah building in Oklahoma City. This was the focus of most of the media this morning. Some Democratic politicians had made an inference that Tea Party activists come from the same mind-set of people. Liberals have repeatedly tried to radicalize and vilify the Tea Party movement, despite how the values of the activists are shared by a majority of Americans. Government has grown too big, and become too intrusive in the lives of American citizens. The fiscal irresponsibility of government will push trillions of dollars of debt onto generations of Americans. On Tax Day, Tea Party activists have complete justification to show their outrage in rallies. To me, those who demonstrate are not radicals or potential terrorists, but patriots greatly concerned about their country.

A few weeks ago when my cellmate told me his birthday was on April 19th, I mentioned how that was a date not easily forgotten. He, however, was unaware of its significance. Possibly it is more memorable to me because of my politics and the fact that Waco was the focus of newsmedia just before the arrest of my co-defendant, and days later, myself. From the sensationalistic coverage of the Waco massacre, TV news went to sensationalistic coverage of the Palatine Massacre. After his arrest for the murder of Dean Fawcett, my co-defendant, Robert Faraci, told police that he knew who committed the murders at the Brown's Chicken restaurant in Palatine, Illinois. I had a suspicion, but was not sure--it seemed too unreal, or far-fetched, however, my intuition was correct: Bob Faraci was trying to frame me of the Palatine Massacre. Soon thereafter, I was arrested with the overwhelming force of nearly 20 gun-wielding FBI agents and Palatine Task Force police.

As I exercised, my neighbor was yelling out his bars for a guard to let him out. My neighbor who goes by the name "Tay-Tay," had served all of his time, and today was his out date. Tay-Tay had been up all night annoying his cellmate, and his cellmate was glad for him to be leaving. They had been cellmates for about half a year, and they had come close to fighting many times (although I do not think it would have been much of a fight with Tay Tay easily being subdued). Tay-Tay was a 20-year-old black man who acted and looked more like he was a 10-year-old. He was very obnoxious and immature.

When Tay-Tay first moved next door, he tried to befriend me. However, I did not want to be friends with him. He annoyed me as well, and I did not like his character. Despite my obvious dislike of him, Tay-Tay would continue to attempt to engage me in conversation or give me the "dab" or a fist bump. I would tell him when he put out his fist that I had nothing for him, and I was not his friend.

Tay-Tay had a relative that lived a few cells down from me, and he was regularly bothering my cellmate or I to pass things between them. I do not mind passing things for people on occasion, but not repeatedly, and not when there is a gallery worker available. My neighbor's cold water button did not work for a month, and Tay-Tay would repeatedly ask me to fill up his water bottle. I told him to just fill up some bottles and let them sit, or put them in his toilet to get them cold, but he refused. I told him that dogs drink out of the toilet bowl, and if he wants cold water so bad, he should do so as well. He told me he will do no such thing, and would pass me over his bottle. I told him I do not know why when I am only filling up his bottle from my toilet anyway. Tay-Tay then used his mirror to see what I was doing with his bottle. I did not fill his bottle up with toilet water, but the next time he disturbed me and demanded that I fill his water bottle, I went to the back of my cell and pissed in it. My cellmate told me I was no good, but I had had enough of his antics. I gave him back a warm bottle of urine. After this, he never bothered my cellmate or I for any more water. I believe Tay-Tay sought out a father figure in his life, and that is why he continued to try to befriend me. I do not have any children though, and even if I cared to adopt one, Tay-Tay would remain an orphan.

In the days before Tay-Tay left, his cellmate suspected him of wanting to steal or break his television before he left. He thought that while he was out of the cell he may clean out his box, and then tell guards he was requesting protective custody. On one day that his cellmate left on a pass to the Healthcare Unit, he asked me to keep an eye on Tay-Tay. I agreed; every five to ten minutes I used my mirror to look in their cell. Tay-Tay remained asleep most of the time. When he awakened, he was talking to various people in the cell house, so I did not have to check to see if he was up to any mischief.

I did not go to lunch today. Sloppy Joes were being served, and had it been made with beef instead of ground turkey and soy, I may have gone. Not only did I not like what was on the menu, I did not want to interact with the people here. I try to avoid the prison environment and people as much as possible--and today, I was planning to make a special meal for my cellmate. My neighbor, whose cellmate had left, had given me two bags of tortilla chips and a container of nacho cheese spread. I put the chips into three large bowls, and then heated some refried beans, rice, and roast beef. While I let the beans and rice sit, I thinned out the cheese spread with some milk. I also added a little seasoning before I put it in a container to be heated along with about 10 packs of ketchup. In each bowl, I layered a mixture of beans, rice, and shredded roast beef. Then I poured the hot cheese and ketchup packs on top. I had made a nacho chip masterpiece, but when my cellmate returned, he said he was not hungry. He had gone on a visit directly from his barbershop job, and ate 15 ice cream bars and cones. My cellmate took a few chips and then I gave his bowl to my neighbor. I broke open a couple of Cokes, but my cellmate did not want one of those either, so I passed that to the cell next door, also.

The Nascar Talladega races were today. Over the weekend, both the Nationwide and Cup series had been cancelled due to the rain in Alabama. While I ate my nacho chips, I watched the end of the Nationwide race and then the Cup series. Periodically, I would take my mirror to tap on my neighbor's cell to make a comment or two about the races which he was watching as well. There was a huge wreck at the end of the first race that my driver, Brad Kaslowski, avoided, and he won. In the second race, I did not pick a specific driver, but my neighbor was a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fan. Earnhardt, Jr. came in 12th, to the disappointment of my neighbor. My cellmate did not watch the races, and sat on his bunk reading a fantasy fiction novel about elves and magic.

During the race, Jon told me that by chance he went on his visit the same time Tay-Tay was taken to gate five to await processing. Jon knows most prisoners tend to recidivate, especially ones that are immature and only did a short sentence. He told me he tried to give Tay-Tay a few words of wisdom before he left. Tay-Tay was arrested for an unarmed robbery, when he was 17. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison, but only had to serve 3 of them. He will be on parole for the next year or two. People on parole have a number of rules they must abide by, and if they violate them, they can be sent back to prison to finish the rest of their sentence. The fact that Tay-Tay was an irresponsible and care-free person without any strong parental or other guidance, and would be returning to the same gang-infested neighborhood, leads me to believe that Tay-Tay will be back in prison before long.

Many prisoners with long, or natural life sentences, are envious of people who go home. It also angers me to see people like Tay-Tay released when I know many men who are more deserving and would not recidivate. I spoke to my cellmate about some of these people today. There are a number of convicted murderers who I think would never commit another crime, let alone a murder, who are forced to rot in prison for decades, if not till their deaths. A few of these people are bright men who could become assets to society. They committed their crimes when young, and yet will never be given a second chance. Some of the murderers I have met are unrepentant, but even these people I believe should be freed before the likes of Tay-Tay.

This evening, I took out a state cake from my box that I had brought back from chow over the weekend. State cakes are small, rectangular cakes, sealed in a plastic wrapper and given to us for some of our meals as a desert. All the cookies, cakes, and even our bread is made in Illinois Prison Industries and thus why they are called "state cakes." This cake was chocolate, and had some white frosting on it. I tore off the wrapper and put it on a bowl lid before offering it to Jon. I told him I had made him a birthday cake. He asked me where the candles were. I said if he likes I can put a blob of hair grease on top, and light it on fire. He said that was OK, and ate it.

I asked Jon if he had a birthday wish. He said he wants a medium transfer. My cellmate has 28 more years to do in prison. Inmates are ineligible to go to a medium-security prison until they have 20 or less years to do. However, Jon has been asking some prison advocates or politicians to lobby IDOC officials to make an exception on his behalf. Recently, he learned that these people were successful in getting his name submitted for a transfer on an institutional level. Now, the transfer request is sent to Illinois' state capital to be reviewed by the state's transfer official. My cellmate has done all his time (10 years) at Stateville. He is looking to improve the quality of his life and he also wants to attend a car repair program. Other than pre-GED classes and the barber school, there are no educational programs at Stateville. I do not want to play the game of Russian Roulette with a new cellmate. However, it is difficult to hope Jon's transfer is denied, particularly on his birthday.

The administration has recently made a few exceptions to the 20-year-and-under rule for people who have not had a disciplinary ticket in 10 years. A few months ago, I heard about the warden of Stateville issuing a policy of approving transfers at the institutional level for those who have been model inmates for a decade. I did not think anyone could do 10 years without a ticket when institutional rules have become so petty, and knowing first hand how tickets are often written unjustifiably. However, my counselor said she and the other clinical service staff searched the records and found 3 people who have gone without a disciplinary infraction for 10 years. One was a very fat black man who lived on my gallery and worked in the kitchen. Another is a 60-year-old white man who works in the library. Today, they told this man to pack up his property. He was on the transfer bus to Galesburg on Wednesday. The prison at Galesburg is a high-medium security prison that is unappealing to me. Even if I were one of the few people to be able to transfer out of maximum security, I would rather stay at Stateville. The old man's cellmate is a cell house worker, and he told me that the old man is glad to be leaving. He has a natural life sentence, and has been in prison over 20 years. He would never be eligible for a medium, if not for the rule exception. However, I was told he was nervous about the move and being victimized by a new set of prisoners.

Before I went to sleep, I asked Jon if this was his best prison birthday ever. He responded he could not say, as he does not recall any of his prior birthdays since being incarcerated. I can understand this. I have had 17 birthdays since being incarcerated, and it is extremely difficult for me to recall the memories of any of them. Today Jon is 33, and he will not be released until he is 51. I tend to believe his 51st birthday will be the first in many years that he will remember.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Terminator -- April 13, 2010

A few days ago, I was standing in line outside the cell house waiting to walk over to the chow hall. Inmates at Stateville are ordered into two lines before they are allowed to go to chow, yard, library, or any other destination. It usually takes five to ten minutes for inmates to file out of the cell house, and settle into the two lines. Many people talk to each other to pass the time while standing in line. I was in my own thoughts, thinking about the Polish president and military leaders of Poland being killed in a suspicious plane crash the day before when I heard someone yell "Terminator! Hey, Terminator!" I turned around to see a black man I did not recognize, but who apparently recognized me from the county jail. I said to him, "You must have a good memory to recognize me from nearly two decades ago." He said I had lost a lot of size, but he would never forget me, the "Terminator."

The Terminator was a name given me by the detainees at Cook County Jail. I was a very muscular 18-year-old when I was there in 1993. People thought I had a cold, robotic demeanor, and the fact that I was on TV news regularly, accused of numerous execution-style murders added to the image. Even before the county jail, people at times would say I looked like the body builder-turned actor-turned governor of California. When I was with my co-defendant, Bob Faraci, people joked that we looked similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito in the movie "Twins." I was first called the Terminator while at the jail and I asked a man on the phone how long he would be. He told me five or ten more minutes, whereupon without much thought I said, "I'll be back." The black man got off the phone, and jumping up and down yelled to everyone on the deck watching TV or playing cards at the tables, "Did you hear what he said? He said 'I'll be back'. He be the Terminator!", which got a lot of laughs, and from then on, everyone called me the Terminator.

In prison and at the jail, it is rare for anyone to go by their real names. Many times, names are not those people choose, but were chosen for them. My cellie is called "Cracker," a name he does not like, but nonetheless everyone calls him. Names can often be unflattering, or undesirable, but they stick on someone. The Terminator was a name I was stuck with throughout my time at Cook County Jail. If anyone ever says they knew me from those two years as "Paul," you know they are most likely lying. (Only a few people at the jail called me Paul.) It was not until I came to prison that I was able to escape that name.

While in the chow line, the man who knew me from the county jail seemed glad to see me. There was a lot of violence at the jail, and it was good that I was able to recognize that he did not harbor any hostility or grudge from those years. I asked him what name he went by back then to see if I could recall who he was. He said, "Bodine," and I looked closely at the details of his face. He had salt and pepper hair, and I tried to imagine what he looked like 17 years ago. Despite how I tried, I could not remember him. He told me that he would sometimes lift weights with me, and that he had a cell on the other side of the deck. Often people will remember me easily because of the massive notoriety I received by the news media or the fact I was one of the few white people there. However, there are very few people that I remember from the jail.

Yesterday morning, I went to the South yard. The South yard is usually the only yard I go to. It is a very large area with a quarter mile track, basketball and handball courts, telephones, and some rusted weights and benches. I was working out by myself with some iron, and Bodine approached me. He wanted to reminisce about times at the county jail. I do not like thinking about the jail, or any of my time in prison. As I often tell people, "I live to forget." When I reminisce, I think of the time before my captivity. The time in jail and prison has been a time of sorrow and misery for me. Despite this, I could not prevent Bodine from rehashing his memories.

Bodine brought up a very young black man who was on our deck, named "B.J." Although I saw him as very young, he was the same age as me at the time. However, while I was very mature for my age, B.J. was very immature and often acted like a 12-year-old. B.J. was in jail charged with a series of rapes. The news media had labeled him as the "southside rapist" and reported that he was probably guilty of numerous other rapes as well. The southside rapist was known to ambush unsuspecting old black women from anywhere, including from behind trees. From my own experience with the news media, I knew not to trust their reports. I got to know B.J., and knew he was not this rapist the media or prosecutors had him pegged as. Typically, I believe anyone with signed confessions guilty, but B.J. was so juvenile, silly, and naive or gullible, I could easily see how police could intimidate him into confessing. Some people thought as I did, but others did not, and B.J. was a target of violence at times. I remember B.J. paid a seasoned convict on the deck named "Pinky" to give him protection. Every week B.J. shopped, and gave a full bag of goodies to Pinky.

B.J. was at the county jail for a long time, as the state convicted him of rape after rape. He was still going to court when I was sent to the penitentiary. I never saw him again until a few years ago when he was on TV news. After 15 years, B.J. was finally exonerated. DNA evidence collected from the rape victims did not match his, and when the court ordered a new trial, the state's attorney chose not to retry him. B.J. was fortunate to ever be released--he had already lost all his appeals. If not for a new DNA law that allows prisoners to retest evidence, B.J. would have died in prison as an old man. I almost did not recognize him when I saw him on TV. He was no longer the childish teen with pimples. He was in his mid-30's, and I could tell, although he was free, there was sadness and bitterness in his heart.

Bodine said he thought I would have also been released after the Brown's Chicken murders were solved. Most everyone in the county jail and prison thought I was convicted of the mass murders. They never heard of the Barrington murder, and were oblivious of the prosecutors' sly maneuver of publicly pinning the Palatine murders on me while, without much fanfare, prosecuting me for allegedly loaning my car to my co-defendant in a totally different case. Bodine asked me if I was still in the courts. I told him, "No, I have lost all my appeals."

Bodine told me he had spent most of his time in Menard. It was only a few years ago that he had been transferred to Stateville. He remarked that it was odd he had not seen me earlier. I told him that I do not come out of my cell too often, and Stateville has almost 2,000 inmates. General population is split into four cell houses, and these cell houses are kept separate; you rarely have any interaction with those in other cell houses unless you attend pre-GED classes, chapel services, or other activities I do not attend. Bodine is celled on the gallery above mine, and I will be seeing him when I go out to yard and occasionally when the feed lines of the two galleries are run together. I asked him what cell he was assigned just a few days ago, and I was surprised to learn he is in the cell directly above mine. It is a good thing Bodine is not a loud and overtly social person, or I may hear him yelling "Terminator" to get my attention. I do not think the name will catch on here: I am no longer a suspect in a mass murder, and I am only a remnant of my former muscular self.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My 5th Clemency Petition -- April 6, 2010

This week, I completed writing my 5th Petition for Executive Clemency. I have been filing petitions to Illinois governors every two or three years since 1999. All my regular set of appeals have been denied, or not even heard, due to improper filings of lawyers. I have the small possibility of having some of my issues heard by filing a successive post conviction appeal. Other than this, however, all I have left is courting the various governors who come and go, hoping one will finally exonerate me through a pardon, or at the very least, commute my natural life sentence with no possibility of parole to a set number of years.

Petitions for clemency go through the Prisoner Review Board (PRB). It is mostly that board that determines whether or not a request for clemency is granted. The board makes recommendations to the governor, and through my experiences I am led to believe the governor does not even see petitions that are not first approved by the PRB. If the board decides a petition should be granted, the petition is passed to the governor's advisers, including his legal team. If they are all in agreement, paperwork will be passed to the governor for his signature. A typical petition, in my opinion, is never read by the Chief Executive of Illinois.

The Prisoner Review Board members are appointed by the governor, however, some retain their jobs through past administrations. Other than hearing requests for executive clemency, this board decides whether or not to grant parole to prisoners with C numbers. Furthermore, they review disciplinary measures to revoke good time from inmates that are eligible. There are only a few hundred inmates left with C numbers within the almost 50,000 inmates serving time in the Illinois Department of Corrections, and all the inmates with a C number are now very old. In the 1970s, convicts were given indeterminate sentences that made them eligible for parole after a certain amount of time. However, in 1978, the Illinois legislature did away with indeterminate sentences for a fixed amount of years to be decided by a judge. Thus, all the people left with C numbers are convicted murderers who have been incarcerated for over 30 years, and the PRB, for one reason or another, refuses to parole them. There is an 80-year-old man who has been incarcerated since the 1940s for a double homicide and rape. Despite lobbying by prison advocates, it seems the board never intends to parole him.

When the law changed to fixed sentences, convicts only did half their time. However, if a prisoner was not well-behaved, good-time could be taken from him. Good-time is the number of years a prisoner did not have to serve. Thus, a prisoner could be forced to do his entire sentence if he continued to receive disciplinary tickets. Years ago, the prison administration took away good-time at their discretion, however, as guards began to write more and more tickets for the most petty of rule violations never substantiated, the courts stepped in and and ruled that good-time credit could only be taken by a separate adjudicating body. This adjudicating body became the Prisoner Review Board.

In 2000, the law again became stricter with the passage of truth in sentencing. This legislation required all people convicted of violent crimes to serve 85% of their time, and those convicted of murder, 100%. Thus, prisoners have less reason to rehabilitate themselves or be well-behaved. IDOC has increased staff fivefold since the Truth in Sentencing law. It has also created two segregation prisons to keep all the overflow of unruly or violent prisoners locked in their cells basically 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The justice system has changed greatly from one that awarded rehabilitation and good behavior to a system that gives full power to a trial judge, and is indifferent, punitive, and oppressive. Given the rigid and inflexible system that exists, I tend to believe the Prisoner Review Board will be receiving more and more petitions for executive clemency.

I have never met any of the Prisoner Review Board members. Only C numbers who are eligible for parole once a year, or those who have had good time taken from them, see this board. A request for clemency does not even require a hearing, although I always request one. My family appears before the board and speaks on my behalf while a prosecutor speaks on behalf of the state. A couple of times my trial prosecutor came to the clemency hearing. My trial prosecutor is not a respectable or honorable person. He lied to my jury about the laws of accountability and the evidence presented. He acted in an over dramatic and theatrical way to play on juror's emotions. His conduct was far from professional, and he continually engaged in unscrupulous and unlawful behavior to secure my conviction. From what I have been informed, his conduct is even more outrageous at my clemency hearings. Hopefully, a prosecutor with more honesty and virtue will appear on behalf of the state this time.

The Prisoner Review Board assigns four people to each petition. Five people are at the clemency hearings: one is the board chairman. He directs the hearings, but has no vote unless the other four split in their vote. The board consists mainly of older men and I have been told they are rather impassive and detached. Possibly, they have heard so many cases that it has become a rather dull proceeding for them. Possibly these hearings serve no function other than formality and their minds are already made up beforehand.

Those speaking on my behalf have the floor for 20 minutes, and then the prosecutor speaks for 20 minutes. My family is then given a 5 minute rebuttal, but this time frame is up to the discretion of the board chairman who generally allows my family to speak longer. During these time periods, the board will ask questions from time to time. At the last hearing they attended, the board repeatedly interrupted the rantings of the prosecutor to ask him why a person found guilty based on a theory of accountability and who was not at the crime scene should have to die in prison. Despite this, the board members' opinions are largely illusive, or so I am told. The board never says how they will decide, and a prisoner is usually left waiting a few years. Even when rejected, a petitioner is never told how the board voted. I never know if the board recommended a commutation or a pardon.

The first few petitions I wrote took a considerable amount of time to put together. A petition must follow certain guidelines and you must answer certain specific questions, however, otherwise the content is left up to the petitioner. The first two petitions I wrote had a significant amount of input and influence from my parents. I was not certain exactly what the petition should contain, and my parents took it upon themselves to write parts and edit my writing. Furthermore, I do not have a typewriter nor access to a printer to have the document copied and professionally bound. The vast majority of my legal papers are also at home, and not in my cell. By the third petition, however, I knew exactly what to write, and told my parents not to edit anything that I wrote. I created a system so the pages I wrote were mailed to my parents to type and sent back to me for my proofreading and signature. I scrutinized these pages and sent them back with corrections and changes; then they were printed, copied, bound and mailed to the board. The only difficulty I had was with the exhibits. My 3rd petition had over 50, and many of them I did not have in my cell. I had to rely on my parents to find them, enclose them, and properly cite them within the petition.

My fifth petition was not difficult to write. I merely took the pages of the former one and made changes directly on them. I sent these pages home to be altered as directed. My parents have my 4th petition on their computer and it was easy for them to make the changes. Most of their work involved looking through legal papers seeking out new exhibits to use. However, most of the exhibits will be the same. I began working on this petition early last week, and it was completed by Easter Sunday. I now depend on my parents to have the petition typed, printed, bound, and mailed to the Prisoner Review Board, the Chief Judge, and the States Attorney.

The major differences in the 5th petition are changes and additions I made to my reasons for clemency. Since my last petition, I discovered that Rose Faraci, Bob Faraci's former wife, did not lie as much as I had thought to the Grand Jury. In fact, she told the truth when she stated that I left in my own car on December 28, 1992. It was what Rose Faraci said to police officers while she was not under oath that was a conspiracy with her husband to frame me for the murder of Dean Fawcett, and the Palatine murders. Thus, I had to change my accusation against the prosecutor from "knowingly using false testimony to gain my indictment" to "knowingly using false hearsay testimony." The prosecutor had people testify to what Bob Faraci had told them. The prosecutor was obviously aware that Bob Faraci was lying when he made several incredulous and contradicting statements to police as well as others, like his wife. The prosecutor should have never presented this evidence to the Grand Jury.

I added two new subchapters to my reasons for clemency. One was to mention the online petition and accompanying list of people who support my release. The other was to mention the new evidence I have gathered, further proving my innocence.

Since 2004, three people have given me affidavits regarding conversations they had with my co-defendant, Bob Faraci. My co-defendant has a big mouth, and I was not particularly surprised to eventually come across people to whom he had confessed. However, the lengths and attempts that Bob went to to frame me before trial never cease to amaze me.

In order to deflect suspicion off himself for the Barrington murder, my co-defendant compelled his wife, Rose, to make a number of statements to police incriminating me in Fawcett's murder and the Brown's Chicken murders in Palatine. Not only did he seek out the help of his wife, but apparently several inmates at the Cook County Jail while we were awaiting trial. The first person I was to learn of was a man named Lonnie Burke. Lonnie approached me while I was in a holding cage, waiting to be bussed to the Rolling Meadows Courthouse. He told me that Bob Faraci had offered him money to make up a story that I confessed to killing Dean Fawcett to him. Lonnie agreed to do this, and Faraci's lawyers put his name on their defense witness list. However, thereafter, Lonnie Burke's conscience got to him and he refused to fabricate a story incriminating me for the benefit of the person he knew actually did kill Dean Fawcett. He told me, contrarily, he would testify against Bob Faraci if my lawyers wanted. The next time I saw my lawyers, I told them about my meeting with Lonnie Burke. However, after Rose Faraci admitted to prosecutors, before my trial, that she conspired to help her husband frame me, my lawyers were not very interested in putting Lonnie Burke on the witness stand. The assistant states attorney was going to prosecute me under a theory of accountability, and not of actually killing the victim. After my trial, I never saw or heard from Lonnie Burke again. However, I was by chance to run into another man who Bob Faraci tried to solicit to frame me.

A few years ago, I learned Bob Faraci tried to get Ron Kliner to testify falsely against me. Ron Kliner was at the Cook County Jail the same time that my co-defendant and I were there. He also went to the same courthouse in Rolling Meadows. He sometimes went to court on the same bus with Bob Faraci. They would regularly talk, until one day when Bob tried to persuade him to pin the Fawcett murder on me. Apparently, Bob told him because they were both Italian that he should help him out. He made references to the mafia, and also told him he would be well paid. Ron was furious that my co-defendant tried to solicit him in such a plan, and told him to never speak to him again. However, Kliner, unlike Lonnie Burke, never told me about the incident until just a few years ago.

Along with the affidavit from Ron Kliner, I am attaching as exhibits affidavits from two other people Bob Faraci confessed to. One of these men was formerly Bob's best friend in the late 1980s. He happened to meet Bob again in a prison in Centralia, Illinois. Bob Faraci had been acquitted of the Fawcett murder; however, a few years later he was arrested and convicted of an elaborate check cashing scheme. He was sentenced to 24 years and thus was in prison when he caught up with his old friend, who was also coincidentally doing time for check fraud in a different case. Bob's longtime friend had seen all the news coverage of his arrest in the Barrington murder, and it was one of the first things he asked him about. Bob told him how he had killed Dean Fawcett, and later dismembered him.

I am not sure how significant the Prisoner Review Board will find my new affidavits. Afterall, I have already presented to them, three times, the testimony of Bob Faraci's former wife, and the trial judge's comments at the death sentence hearing that I was not at the crime scene. I have also produced evidence that blood was found in Faraci's car, and affidavits by witnesses who, although never called to testify at trial, know that my car could not have been borrowed by Faraci on the day he killed Fawcett. The PRB seems unwilling to retry my case, despite what evidence I present to them that proves my innocence.

Throughout the ten years I have been submitting petitions for clemency, I am unaware of anyone who has been granted a pardon based on actual innocence and had not first had their conviction overturned by an appellate court. I could submit 100 affidavits to the Prisoner Review Board proving my innocence, and they would probably still be unmoved. I could get an affidavit from Faraci himself, stating in detail how he killed Dean Fawcett and how I was never aware of his intentions and did not lend him my car that day--and it would be doubtful the board would recommend a pardon! Thus, this is why I argue that at the very least, my sentence is disproportionate to the crime I was convicted of, and should be commuted. Many people have asked me if I am innocent, why do I ask for a reduced sentence as an alternative to a full pardon. The answer is that the board refuses to recognize the evidence I offer them that proves my innocence. They apparently believe guilt and innocence is a matter the courts should decide. I have tried to explain to them, and my family has as well, that my trial attorneys failed to present this evidence, and my appeals were dismissed without being heard due to improper filing. I will probably never have the opportunity to present this evidence to the courts. The Prisoner Review Board is my only hope. If they do not look at the evidence, no one with any authority ever will.

The next deadline for filing this petition is April 29th. If I were to miss this, my petition would not be heard until the fall.. It is important to me that I file now and not later because of the possibility of a change in governors. This November, Governor Quinn is running against Bill Brady. According to poll numbers, the incumbent governor will likely lose the election. When a governor leaves office, he is much more likely to make decisions without consideration of politics. Obviously, granting commutations or pardons to prisoners, especially a convicted murderer, is not politically wise. Governor Quinn faced enormous public backlash when he just simply allowed convicts to be released a month early to save the state millions of dollars of having them transported to a downstate prison and housing them until they served all of their sentences. Thus, a governor typically leaves such decisions to the end of his political career, like former Illinois Governor George Ryan did when he commuted all death sentences to natural life without parole.

I will be posting my entire petition in the coming months. Anyone who is interested in reading my 5th petition will be able to do so, and post their comments. Those who have signed in support of my petition already will have their names given to the Prisoner Review Board and Governor Quinn. One of the exhibits readers will see is, in fact, the signature petition currently at www.petitiononline.com/paulmod/ If you have not already signed, but would like to do so after reading the document and exhibits, you will still be able to add your name online. The website will be given to the PRB and Governor Quinn so they, or their staff, can visit the site.

I no longer put much hope in these requests for clemency. I used to look forward to some prison official telling me to pack up my property because I was being released. I particularly entertained such fantasy thoughts toward the end of former Governor George Ryan's term. However, I no longer have such hope. A petition for clemency is a Hail Mary pass--a last ditch effort that has a minute chance of success. Just like the football team that throws the ball some 50 yards while time expires, I make the effort simply because there is nothing else I can do, except accept defeat. Having said this, though, I will close this journal entry with a story about a C number I used to know.

Nine or ten years ago, I knew an old man who had been in prison for over 25 years. In the 1970s, he committed a series of armed robberies. A couple of people were shot in those robberies, but none died. This was not his first time in prison, and he had been convicted of armed robbery before. With Illinois' new laws, such a man would be eligible for the habitual criminal act and natural life without parole. However, in the 70s, there was no such sentence, and even life sentences had a possibility of parole after 12 years. Every year this man went in front of the PRB after he had served the minimum of his indeterminate sentence. This man signed on to every rehabilitative program available in prison. He also thought long and hard about what he would tell the board. Every year, he would get his hopes up that this would be the year. He made plans and sold dreams to his family. However, every year his parole was denied.

After over a decade of seeing the PRB, he no longer contacted his remaining family members. He no longer went out of his way to be a good inmate. He did not even think about what he would tell the board when he went before them. He got to the point where he sat in front of the board and said, "I don't have nothing to say. You are going to deny me parole, and I will not waste my breath." It was that year, 2001, that the board released him. I saw him on his way out of prison, and he was still in shock. Just like the old man, I will just continue to file for clemency, and hopefully I will one day be shocked to be released.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Long Wait -- April 1, 2010

Today was a Thursday, and like most Thursdays, I was expecting a visit. My mother, father, sister, or any combination of them, usually come to see me once a week. Thursday is the typical day they come because weekends are limited to one hour visits, Tuesday is my law library day, Mondays and Wednesdays are my "recreation" days, and Fridays are always very crowded. Thursdays have become very crowded as well now, and I have asked my family to visit on Wednesdays instead. Wednesday seems to be the day the least number of visitors come to Stateville. However, this week my family had already used up the maximum number of visits allowed per month (5). Because it was the first of the month, I was expecting the visiting room to be packed, and my family and I to probably wait hours. I hoped whoever came today would arrive early so our visit would not be so short.

Typically, when my cellmate leaves in the morning to work in the barbershop, I workout. However, yesterday, I had went to the gym and used the universal machines. The machines are old, and half of the equipment is broken, but despite this, I was able to get a good exercise program in. My muscles were sore, and therefore I decided to take the day off. All I would do today is a half hour of stretches. For some of them, I held a towel at the ends and reached behind my back, then side to side. I also thread it between my cell bars to pull and stretch my upper back muscles. While doing my stretches, I almost always get the notice of passersby. There is no privacy in maximum security, and almost everything I do can be seen by those on the gallery. Today, as the cell house workers passed out laundry, they were asking me what the purpose of this and that stretch was. I seemed to draw their interest using the towel and with other stretches used in more advanced yoga. If we were still allowed to have curtains, I would have drawn them. In fact, I would keep them drawn most of the day.

After stretching, I opened my laundry bags and began to sort and fold my clothing. Some of the laundry returned damp and I put those clothes on the fans that my cellmate and I own. While I rotated them and waited for them to dry, I read a few newspapers. I have a subscription for the Wall Street Journal, and I usually read it almost in its entirety. I also had a Chicago Tribune that a visitor had left me the week before, but I only read certain articles from it. When I am done with a paper, I typically pass it to another prisoner. Prisoners tend to like to read the local news and sports, but have little appreciation for the politics and financial news in the Wall Street Journal. This is just as well because I tend to tear out a number of articles from the WSJ to send to my family with my notes. Today, I took out an editorial critical of the health care bill passed recently to give to my cell house lieutenant. The lieutenant and I have spoken on a number of occasions, and he is a fervent supporter of the health care legislation, and most everything Barack Obama endorses.

Lunch lines were run, but I did not go out. The kitchen was serving processed turkey-soy meatballs, and I figured I would eat something from the vending machines in the visiting room. Much of the meat we are served here is an unpleasant tasting blend of soy meal and turkey scraps. No matter how much the kitchen tries, soy products will never taste as good as real meat. A long time ago before soy and processed turkey became our staple diet, the food served in the Illinois Department of Corrections was decent. I remember, with nostalgia, the meals served 10 years ago before administrators decided to cut feeding costs. I believe that now prisoners at Stateville are fed on a budget equaling less than 30 cents per meal. If I ever leave prison, I will never eat soy again, and processed meat will be a rarity in my diet.

About 11:30, my name was called on the loudspeaker. After a few minutes passed, I yelled out from my cell, "Two gallery visit." I did this a few times before I sat back down and continued reading my papers. I do not like yelling, but if you don't, no guard will come to open up your door and you will be forced to wait for the guard working your gallery to pass by. I wanted to get to the visiting room especially quick today because I knew it was going to be very crowded. I read a few more articles, and then yelled out again, "Two gallery visit." My voice is rather low pitched, and does not carry far. Inmates have joked that my voice will not carry five cells away. Thinking I was not heard, I went to yell again, but a guard answered, "I am on my way, Modrowski." The guard soon opened my cell door, and we immediately left the cell house with a couple of other men who also had visits.

After I went through gate 5, which is located near the entrance to Stateville, I noticed a large crowd of inmates waiting to go on their visits. Seeing the crowd, I estimated that I would be waiting for at least an hour, and I would be fortunate if I got an hour visit. Someone in the crowd recognized me and I went to the back to speak with him. Celt is a tall white man with tattoos over most of his body. I have known him for many years, and although people outside of prison may pre-judge him to be of a nefarious character, I tend to believe he is one of the better people I have met in prison. I asked him how long he had been waiting, and he informed me about 20 minutes, but there were some in the hallway who had been waiting close to an hour. After exchanging a little small talk, the man with tattoos began a long monologue. He spoke with a slight southern accent, and I only interrupted to make a short comment or two. Apparently he had a lot of prison gossip he wanted to get off his chest, and although I was not very interested in the subject, I was a good listener.

From what I was informed, there is a heavy set man who goes by the name Red, who claims to be a biker, but is not. Red does not claim to be in just any biker gang, but the Hell's Angels. Years ago, a man could be killed or seriously harmed for claiming to be in a gang he was not. Usually, it was that gang that sought you out, however, most people looked down on such a person. There are only a few Hell's Angels in Illinois prisons, and I doubt Red has much to worry about except his reputation, which apparently was not good to begin with. Not only has Red lied about being in a biker gang, but about his case. Red brags to people that he is in prison for killing a cop, a respectable murder to most convicts. However, the truth of the matter is that Red killed a person who was selling him drugs, and he only thought was a cop. Apparently, during the drug deal, Red became paranoid and shot the man dead. Later he was to discover the man was not a police officer nor an informant, but precisely who he claimed to be.

Interestingly, Red was accompanied by a man to this drug deal who later became his co-defendant, and now resides on my gallery. This man, who witnessed the murder, initially tried to become a state witness against Red for a reduced sentence. However, when Red learned of his co-defendant's attempt to make a deal for himself, Red simply pled guilty in a plea agreement. Red's co-defendant went to trial, and was found guilty and sentenced to 35 years.

I have known Red's co-defendant for a few years. He initially went by the name Boss Hog, but after people saw he was no boss at all let alone the goofy Boss Hog character from the 70's TV show "Dukes of Hazard," he was just called Hog. From Hog his name went to Pig, Piglet, and then Juden Schwein. Some people just call him a bitch. Though Juden Schwein was formerly a cell house worker, he was being bullied and ironically "bossed" around by most every one in the building, so he quickly requested and received a change of assignment. Before I learned of his attempt to become a state witness, I thought this fat man with pudgy cheeks was of weak and slimy character. He was easily intimidated by the smallest hoodlum in the building and conducted himself in a lowly, duplicitous manner. I noticed he moved in the cell with a respected and confident man for protection, in an attempt to climb up the prison pecking order. But he seemed to be more this man's lapdog, and purchased his friendship with hundreds of dollars in commissary. Eventually people discovered this weasel was half Jewish, and quickly he became known in the cell house as "Juden Swein" or Jewish pig.

As most people at Stateville, Celt did not think well of Juden Swein, or his co-defendant. It was amusing to me that both of these men were wannabe bikers. My cellmate and I always speculated on how Juden Swein could be a biker, especially since he conceded not knowing anything about motorcycles, and to never owning one. My cell mate guessed he rode "bitch," or behind some real biker. Apparently, he rode behind Red, but possibly, as I have commented to my amused cell mate, he rode in a motorcycle side car.

People were permitted to go into the strip search room three at a time. While I was listening to the prison gossip, about 12 people had left the hallway to go on their visits. The guard at gate 5 had no system or order to who he was letting go first, and this got our attention. We moved through the remaining group. We did not want to be left behind while others cut in front of us. I looked up at the clock on the wall and it was 12:30. I would not be getting a full 2 hour visit, but I had positioned myself well in the herd, and I would soon be breaking ranks. As I saw the guard approach to inform that three more could go, I quickly moved out into the center hallway and toward the strip search room. I just left Celt behind in mid-sentence.

As I walked down the short flight of stairs into the visiting room, I could see the room was nearly filled to capacity. I was assigned a table on the wall toward the back. It was the last table available, and I was momentarily glad with my good fortune. I walked toward my assigned seat, passing many visitors as I did. The place was incredibly loud, and I wished I could have brought in my ear plugs. I sat down at the odd sized table which was lower than the stool I sit on. These tables have been made by special order for Stateville. They do not restrict the lines of sight of the guards and the surveillance cameras. Prisoners sit on stools that are higher than the tables and higher than the visitors' stools. The lengths the administration has gone for security at this prison border on the absurd.

Sitting at the table by myself, I looked across the room to see a man I know who lives on my gallery. He was sitting across the table from an older man. I wondered if he was his father. I see and meet a lot of people in the prison, but often you do not really get to know them. I find most people to be artificial or not genuine. Seeing people at the visiting room can give me a better perspective of those I live with. I watched him intently and noticed he talked with ease while eating an ice cream sandwich. I wondered what they talked about, and assumed they were engaged in some trivial banter.

Sitting to the left of me is another inmate I know from my gallery. I have never spoken to him, but I know from hearing his conversations and looking at him that he is retarded. He has physical characteristics similar to those with Downs Syndrome. I was curious to learn if his family is also like he is. After waiting ten or twenty minutes, his family was brought downstairs. They appeared normal looking, and greeted the man very warmly. Sitting there with nothing to do, I eavesdropped on their conversations. They talked about nothing of significance and it was apparent his visitors had no mental retardation, despite the unsophistication of their speech and heavy use of slang.

The noise in the visiting room was incredibly loud. There are approximately 50 tables and each has four stools: 3 for visitors and 1 on the opposite side for the prisoner. Not all stools are filled, but many visitors have babies or toddlers on their lap. All of the noise from numerous sources began to bother me immensely, and I put my head in my hands and discretely used my fingers to close my ears. I closed my eyes momentarily and tried to calm myself. I despise having to visit under conditions such as this. Nowhere in the IDOC do they have worse visitation. I attempted to find some peace within myself, so I would not be irritable when my visitor(s) arrived. I often regret becoming unfriendly towards my family due to no fault of their own.

I have been waiting now over a half hour and I have seen groups of visitors come into the room. There is no effort made at Stateville to make the process more efficient, and families, friends, and inmates regularly wait hours to see each other. As I have been waiting, some visitors have been told to leave, and other inmates including Celt, have taken their places. He was seated facing me at a table on an angle from mine. I asked him if he was mad that I took off in front of him, and he said no. He then tried to engage me in conversation, but I could barely hear him over the roar of the visiting room. Eventually, he saw the futility of it, and stopped talking. We just sat there, both waiting for our visitors.

Throughout this time, I had been hoping to see an attractive woman. None of the female staff at Stateville are particularly good looking. Even the female guard I had once thought pretty and wholesome, has become overweight. Being incarcerated 17 years is a very sad and lonesome experience. It is nice to just see a pretty woman on a visit, even if she is not there to see you. After about 40 minutes passed, a white family came down the steps. I noticed a younger woman in her late teens with dark blond hair. As she approached, I saw her features were attractive. However, before I began to dwell on her too much, I noticed she had a nose ring. I put my head back in my hands, and tried to close out the world again.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Celt shift on his stool and his attention became raised. His visitor must be here, I thought, and I looked toward the front to see if I could distinguish her from the newest groups that arrived. It should be relatively easy since we were one of the few white people in the room. Earlier, Celt had been trying to tell me he had befriended two women who came to see him. One was good looking and lived in town, but would probably not stay with him long. The other was older and ugly, but was committed, and sent him money. I saw a young pretty brunette coming toward his table, but she stopped to hug another man. My eyes lingered on the brunette for a while before I noticed the old, ugly white woman who came to his table. I could never pretend to like an ugly woman just for money. Just the thought of using a woman, even a lonely, ugly one, for money, was an idea I loathed, and could never understand, despite how many men in prison do this. My eyes went back to the pretty girl, and I admired every detail of her feminine gestures and figure.

I must have had a look of sorrow on my face because a black man who goes by the name "Big Country" said, "Hey, Paul. You alright over there?" I do not remember Big Country from over a decade ago while at Joliet CC, but for some reason he remembers me. Since he has been assigned a cell in my cell house, he has been attempting to befriend me. Big Country is a rather large black man, and has an extroverted, if not obnoxious, personality. He has been in Menard the last several years. I told Big Country how I had been waiting an hour, and he informed me in a loud voice from a table down from me that none of this happens down in the "pit." He said visitors wait less than 10 minutes and inmates are sent directly into the visiting room after being strip searched. The "pit" is known as Menard because the prison is built in a rock quarry. Many black prisoners refer to it as the pit, inferring a sinister tone. People say that on a hot day, steam can be seen coming up from the quarry as though it was hades.

Finally, at about 1:45, I saw my frail mother with her long blond hair descend the steps into the visiting room. As I watched her, I thought sadly about how old she had become. Not long ago, I had looked at old photos of my mother when she was in her 30's and younger. She had once been a pretty woman. I thought about how old we all had become during the nearly two decades I have been in prison. It is difficult to believe sometimes that before my arrest I was a teenager, just out of high school, and now I was a middle aged man with handicapped, near infirm parents. I thought about how much time had passed, and how I wish we had that time back.

Last year, a prisoner approached me after visitation, and told me how the guards were talking about my mother after she had been processed in, and sent to the main building. His family had heard the guards say that my mother had been my 1,000th visitor. The guards had never seen a man achieve 1,000 visits. I failed to tell my mother that she had come in as my thousandth visitor, but I feel like she should have received a prize of some sort. Unfortunately, I have nothing to offer my mother, or any of my family members who have stood by me all these years. I hope they know, however, I am eternally grateful, and I love them very much. Hopefully, soon we can be a family once again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Assisting Tom on His Appeal -- March 26, 2010

This week, I worked on a post conviction appeal of an older man who is celled in my cell house. I have my own post conviction appeal to work on, as well as a clemency petition. I am already very busy from the time I wake up until I go to sleep. However, I have been putting off helping this man for a long time. I feel a duty to assist people who ask for help because of the atrocious counsel I have received in the past. I don't like to see or hear about people who are denied due process from their own ignorance or an ineffective lawyer. However, in this case, it is difficult to become motivated when the evidence is overwhelming.

A number of people in prison have let me read over their cases. When I do this, I learn a lot of personal details, and details about the crime. From time to time, people will ask me about that information, and I refuse to tell them. If they want to know, they can ask that person, and even if they lie to them I will not say otherwise. I feel obligated to keep their secrets as if I was their lawyer--it seems like a violation of trust to do otherwise. Thus, because this journal entry will be published, I will give this man the alias name of Tom.

Tom was convicted a few years ago of killing his wife and her boyfriend. As all people convicted of more than one homicide in Illinois, his only punishment could be death or natural life without parole. The state's attorney chose not to seek the death penalty because of the relationship of the victim to the killer, and circumstances of the murder. The state's attorney also probably did not want Tom to receive the expensive defense counsel now mandated for those with death penalty cases. Tom comes from a small rural county in southern Illinois that does not have a large budget. It is quite disturbing to me that those who face a possible protracted death sentence do not have the same rights, protections, or resources provided to those facing death. But, that is how it works in Illinois, and probably in other states as well.

On a post conviction petition, only issues that are not on the record can be raised. Errors that appear on the record are to be raised on direct appeal. Tom's direct appellate lawyer, appointed by the state, cared little about raising all the errors on his direct appeal. In fact, he only filed one issue. The issue pertained to the judge failing to hold a hearing about whether appointed defense lawyers should be replaced after Tom wrote the judge that his public defenders were failing to do their job, and also did not agree with each other in defense strategy. The lackluster performance, I surmise, was due at least in part to the amount of evidence against Tom. While reading Tom's case I also felt I was wasting my time, and I should focus my efforts on my own case, or someone who could gain from my work. While reading this paperwork, I repeatedly said to my cellmate, "Why can't people come to me with winnable cases?" Despite this, I gave my word to Tom, and I will help him to the best of my ability.

Tom sent me many volumes of trial testimony to read. Immediately I told him I needed discovery material, not transcripts. I cannot raise any errors that appear on the record except the ineffectiveness of the direct appellate counsel for not raising issues in his direct appeal. Tom told me that all he had was pretrial and trial transcripts. I asked him where the discovery was, and for those who don't know, discovery is all the investigative reports and information the police have and must turn over to the defense. I was informed that a family member in southern Illinois had it, and he was not certain he could get it. I told Tom I will review the transcripts in their entirety, looking for errors his previous lawyer did not raise; hopefully, before his post conviction is due, he will have procured the discovery. If not, I will just have to pick his brain for issues outside the record.

Earlier this year, I helped Tom file a P.L.A., which is a petition to leave appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. At the time, he wanted me to review his case for errors on the record. However, it was too late. A defendant cannot ask the IL Supreme Court to review issues not raised earlier. Tom then asked me why I did not help him earlier. Because, I told him, you did not ask for my help until after your direct appeal was shot down by the appellate court, and you realized that you were going to die in prison. He asked me if he was going to die in prison, and I told him he probably was, but I cannot say with certainty until reading everything.

As I knew, Tom's P.L.A. was rejected. The IL Supreme Court only hears death row appeals or appeals that have issues that the lower courts are in conflict over. Tom's single issue, no matter how well worded or argued, was not one of those issues. When Tom received the denial from the Supreme Court, he quickly sent it to me. There was some legal jargon that had confused him, and made him believe that possibly his case had been remanded back to the Appellate Court. I had to inform him this was just the high court informing the lower court of its decision.

Tom has 6 months from the rejection by the IL Supreme Court to file a post conviction appeal. Before the answer came from the high court, I told him to begin working on his post conviction. There is no point waiting to be rejected. However, he did not heed this advice. Possibly, by now, he could have the discovery materials, I thought. However, now that I read his transcripts, I can see why he has been unable to procure the papers from his sister.

I began reading Tom's transcripts early this week. When I read them, I take meticulous notes. I also write down any possible issues that can be raised. Furthermore, I write many questions. These questions need to be answered by legal research, or by Tom. I have been in prison 15 years, and during that time I have become familiar with many areas of law. However there is a lot I do not know, or am unsure about. These questions are for Tom to look up and find corresponding case law. I do not have time to do all the research myself. Afterall, I have my own research to do in my own post conviction. My time at the law library is short and invaluable. Despite how depressed, unmotivated, or ignorant of law, Tom will have to do much of this work himself.

Reading transcripts is not like reading a novel. One must focus on what they are reading and absorb all the small details. I have an exceptional ability to find details that may be relevant. Possibly, I focus on details more than necessary. Although I may waste time, at least my review is thorough. I doubt anyone at Stateville would have spent the time to comprehensively go over his case as I have. I tend to believe Tom did not expect me to do this, and now that I have, I tend to believe he is not very grateful. Possibly, he wanted me to breeze through these transcripts and tell him he is doomed, or contrarily, blow some smoke up his ass and tell him he is going home. It is not that simple.

I began reading the pretrial transcripts and quickly noticed his public defenders did not put in many motions. Pretrial motions are important to frame the parameters of the trial. Certain evidence or testimony should never be allowed, and this can be resolved before a jury is ever chosen. I am not sure that Tom would have won these motions, but his lawyers should have tried. A sentence of natural life without parole is worse than death, and defense lawyers should fight every meritorious issue. Some lawyers who know the judge involved and the system, may not bother with motions because they know how the judge will rule. However, even if a judge rules against the defense in a pretrial motion, at least this preserves the issue on appeal. A higher court may not agree with the trial judge. In my case, my most important pretrial motion was to have my claimed statements to the interrogating officer suppressed. My lawyer presented the judge with many witnesses who testified directly, or indirectly to my abuse while being interrogated, and violations of my Miranda rights. Although it is not on the defense to prove their motion, my trial lawyers did. However, it did not matter. My judge was not going to prevent the prosecutor from presenting the lies of the interrogating officer. If he did, the prosecutor would not have a case to go forward with. If my direct appellate counsel would have raised this error on appeal, the appellate court may have ruled against the trial court. Furthermore, even if the elected appellate court refused to do so, the unelected but appointed federal court may have thrown out the lies of my interrogating officer.

After reading the pretrial transcripts, I read Tom's jury selection transcripts. I found his lawyers did just about as good a job in selecting a jury as mine did. My lawyers did not pay attention to the backgrounds of jurors, believing the prosecutor's case was so poor that it did not matter who decided the evidence. After my trial, I found in defense notes and memorandums, the opinions of multiple lawyers who work at Jenner & Block: legally, a person not at the crime scene who allegedly lent their vehicle could not be found guilty under the law of murder by a theory of accountability. My inexperienced lead trial lawyer was so smug and arrogant, he did not see a need to scrutinize jurors or hire a jury consultant. In fact, contrary to popular wisdom, my lawyer sought out upper-middle class people who he believed were more intelligent and less likely to be moved by emotions or pretrial publicity. However, this would be a fatal error because upper-middle class people were more likely to find someone guilty and side with the prosecutor. They also were more likely to be well read, and fully aware that I was named a suspect in the mass murder at a nearby Brown's Chicken restaurant in Palatine. Finally, even the most educated and financially well off were not shielded to being moved by the theatrics of the prosecutor.

In Tom's case, I noticed a different perspective among his lawyers. They seemed not to care who sat in judgement because of what little evidence the state had, but just the opposite. It seemed they did not want to bother scrutinizing the potential jurors because their client most likely would be convicted regardless of who was picked. A person with a relative in law enforcement was not challenged by Tom's lawyers although every defense lawyer knows to strike them immediately. Unfortunately for Tom, an argument for ineffective assistance of direct appellate counsel for not raising the ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failing to use challenges will not be a winnable issue. The court will almost certainly say it was probably trial strategy, and for some reason, if not readily apparent, the trial lawyers liked him to serve on the jury.

The following day I read the first volume of five of trial testimony. Each volume was approximately 500 pages, and even though transcripts are typed double spaced and with large margins, they would take several hours to review. I missed several meals, and I did not go out for recreation this week in order to analyze Tom's case. Many times, I would become distracted by my cellmate, people outside my cell, or guards. I tried to block all the cell house noises out by wearing my stereo headphones, listening to tapes, or the radio. I would have liked to listen to some good uninterrupted classical music while I worked, but there are too many lulls in the music that would allow the blaring noises from the cell house to be heard. Tom, himself, would also distract me when he returned from chapel services, and came to my cell bars. He would ramble on and on about his case, but I was not interested in the information he offered because it was irrelevant, or was not in the order of how I was approaching his case. I told him once to write down certain subject material that I would want to learn about at a later time, however, he failed to do so.

The first part of any murder trial, the prosecutor wants to lay a foundation for other testimony. Tom's wife and her boyfriend were found dead at the boyfriend's home. They were both killed with single shotgun blasts to the midsection. Despite valuables being in the house, nothing was touched or searched. The murders definitely seemed like they were committed in passion, or hatred. From the evidence, it seemed the killer kicked in the front door and when met by the boyfriend, he shot him; the force sent his body back several feet. The killer then apparently stepped over the body and into the blood and proceeded through the house, leaving footprints. The footprints led to a bedroom closet where the female victim obviously was hiding. She was shot immediately, and the bloody shoe prints went straight back through the house and out the door. The victims were found the following day when suspicions arose when the woman failed to return home in time to take her children to school.

I immediately thought the bloody footprints would be the key to solving the murder. I looked forward to seeing how the prosecutor connected them to Tom. However, quite interestingly, he was never able to do so. The impressions left at the murder scene were of a unique pattern type created by a gym shoe. No gym shoes were found in Tom's possession. Contrarily, before and after the murders, Tom was seen in video footage at various stores and bars wearing boots. Tom's car was also searched, and not a trace of blood was found. A crime scene investigator was called by the State to testify that it was no surprise that no blood was found. He told the jury that by the time the killer walked into his car, all the blood would be gone. This is pure fallacy, and Tom's defense lawyers were ineffective for not calling their own forensic expert. In the 21st century, the smallest trace of blood can be found and there is no way the killer who stomped into a pool of blood and left heavy tracks throughout the house would not have carried that blood into his car, unless he changed footwear.

In the first couple of volumes of trial transcripts, the evidence against Tom was poor. However, as I continued reading, the prosecution's case became overwhelming. There was no physical evidence linking Tom to the murder, but what did exist were numerous people who testified that Tom told them he was going to kill his wife and the man who had begun to date her. A few of these people were not credible but there were almost ten witnesses, including Tom's daughter and sister. Two people also testified that Tom asked to borrow their shotgun on the night of the murder. The latter person happened to lend one, and Tom returned the shotgun at one in the morning, claiming he changed his mind and was not going skeet shooting. Tom has a big mouth and while at a few small town taverns, he spoke over beers about how he would kill his adulterous wife and her new lover. A few friends testified against him that on the night of the murder he traveled with them to the victim's house, and after seeing his wife's car, got out. If not for their persuasion, he would have gone up to the door.

Tom testified in his own defense. He stated that he indeed had made threats against his wife and her boyfriend, but they were made while drinking, and he was not serious. He admitted to tracking down where the man lived and calling him. Tom told the jury he merely wanted to confront him about going out with his wife, and did not intend to kill him. He even told the jury he borrowed the shotgun, but his purpose was not to kill anyone but himself. Tom was incredibly depressed, and during the time the murders occurred, he claimed to be at the cemetery in front of his mother's grave. He had placed the shot gun underneath his chin, but after having second thoughts, could not do it. Instead, he left the state to get away from his sorrows. He drove all night and the next day to New Mexico, whereupon he spoke with his cousin who lived in the area. His cousin was to inform him that his wife was murdered and the police had a warrant for his arrest.

Tom's testimony was not so incredible, but parts definitely were a far stretch, and did not make sense. The prosecutor asked him why he traded his car with his daughter around the time of the murders. Tom's answer was that he wanted the small Eclipse to drive to New Mexico to get better gas mileage than his Cadillac, but his daughter did not want him to keep the car, and so he gave it back. Tom was asked why he thought his own daughter and sister would say he admitted to them killing his wife, and seeing him move the shotgun between the cars. Tom had no answer.

At the end of the cross examination, the prosecutor began to rant about all the evidence against Tom, and finally asking the question if he heard such testimony. Clearly, Tom's lawyers should have objected to those long-winded and loaded questions, but they did not. Time and time again, the prosecutor would rehash damning testimony and ask if Tom heard it, whereupon he would simply say yes, or something weak. I thought to myself that any innocent man would have broken such a line of questioning and defended himself. However, Tom remained silent. Finally the prosecutor said, "Do you really believe the jury is going to believe some other person other than yourself committed these murders? Are you going to tell them you did not do this?" Tom answered, "I don't think so." "I don't think so??!" said the prosecutor. "Did I just hear you say you don't think you killed them?" Again, Tom answered, "I don't think I did."

No innocent person would answer "I don't think so" to committing a double homicide, and it is clear that Tom is guilty. It is upsetting--I just spent a week of my time finding trial errors and claims of ineffective counsel for a person who basically admitted his guilt in these final pages. Despite this, I will continue to help him put a post conviction together. Even the guilty deserve to have the best defense, and it is apparent he did not have anything close to good counsel at trial. Because of how terrible my defense lawyers were, I am still incensed whenever I learn about someone else who was not given a fair trial. I also already gave my word to help this man, and I will not renege. I will get a post conviction prepared for him. However, after it is accepted by the court and a public defender is appointed, that is as far as I am committed. I will not continue to squander my time when I realize he can never win at trial. His best hand will be to gain a new trial and pray the states attorney of his cash-strapped county does not want to retry him, and offers him a plea agreement that will allow him to be released before he is buried on the prison grounds.