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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Paul's Response to the Podcast -- Part 2

After their arrest in 1993, my former roommates Bob and Rose Faraci conspired to frame me of not only the murder of Dean Fawcett but also the Palatine Brown's Chicken Massacre. Although Rose eventually admitted their accusations were false, the Cook County States Attorneys Office craftily used their chief deputy's lies to prosecute me under a theory of accountability. My lawyer basically conceded my guilt at trial and I was convicted by a jury that was oblivious the killer had walked free. Without mercy, I was condemned to spend the rest of my life in prison. For over 23 years, I have suffered in captivity for a crime I had nothing to do with. Every day I awake increasingly angry and simmering in hatred. However, my bitter ruminations are not the reason Reply All decided to make my criminal conviction the focus of their podcast as Sruthi Pinnamaneni suggested in her narration.

Early in the year, the Netflix podcast "Making of a Murderer" had gained a great amount of media attention. Because I am isolated in a maximum security penitentiary and have no Internet access, news of it was slow to reach me. Eventually, however, I learned some details through television, newspapers, and a People Magazine article. Apparently, a Wisconsin man was framed by police in a murder. After serving 17 years in prison, Steve Avery was exonerated and sued law enforcement. Oddly, not long after his release, he along with his mildly retarded nephew Brendan Dassey were arrested for another murder by the same cops who set him up previously. Netflix investigated the case and made an in-depth 10 episode broadcast. The series was very successful and brought Netflix worldwide attention.

As a small start-up podcast, Reply All sought to copy the success of Netflix as well as other murder mystery broadcasts such as Serial. However, they did not have the resources, experience, or skill sets to make a quality production. After sending Sruthi numerous police reports, transcripts, and affidavits, she still wanted more information. In detail, I had to explain to her how she could order transcripts from the circuit clerk of the court. I also taught her how to get police discovery under the Freedom of Information Act. Still having troubles and wanting confidential reports, my frail mother spent hours searching through boxes, making copies, and sending the packages to New York until finally learning she could simply scan and send the documents electronically. My attorney also spent many hours talking with Sruthi, providing her documents, and even meeting with her a couple of times to show her police evidence.

At the time Jennifer Blagg was working with Reply All, I was in the midst of finding an attorney to assist her in my appeal. After 6 years had passed, it was obvious she needed some help.  However, despite her struggles working on my appeal, she was a very good public advocate. She went well beyond her professional duties to assist Sruthi Pinnamaneni to create a podcast she hoped would be similar to "Making a Murderer". She strongly believed that public attention of my case would show how grossly unjust my conviction was and pressure the states attorneys office to drop the charge of murder. After Anita Alvarez lost reelection under a swirl of police cover-ups, prosecutorial misconduct, and other malfeasance, I thought there may be a slight chance a little media exposure could be beneficial, but I was still highly skeptical.

Reply All was not Netflix and their audience reach was minuscule. It was difficult for me to see how this tiny audio-only podcast could catch widespread media attention. Then, I know how corrupt to the core the Cook County States Attorneys Office was. Many prosecutors did not care about truth or justice, only convictions, and preserving those convictions. The Conviction Integrity Unit created by Anita Alvarez was a fraud and I don't know how much better it will be under Kim Fox. Plus, before the S.A. will even consider a prisoner's innocence, an appeal must be docketed. Jennifer Blagg was still a long way away from filing a post conviction petition, thus why I was seeking other counsel.

Completing and filing the appeal has been my focus since former Governor Quinn rejected my 5th Clemency Petition and I ceased blog postings. A podcast by Reply All would not have any effect on my legal proceedings or hasten them. Despite the strength of my issues, the Cook County States Attorneys Office will delay and fight the appeal tooth and nail for years. By the time the court vacates my conviction, I will be 50 years old and have suffered in prison more years than the statutory maximum I was eligible for. Even if released this very day, there is little I can do to piece together the shattered fragments of the life I once had. A decade from now there will be only dust. The only motive I had in a podcast was to give my obituary. I am dead and have been since I was 18 years old.

Up until Spring, dialogue with Sruthi Pinnamaneni seemed to have the intent of creating an eulogy. She was impressed by the blog but sought information about my life before I began writing and even as a child. I did not speak until I was 5 years old, but quickly overcame most autism symptoms. I excelled in sports as well as academics. She asked me what my dreams and aspirations were before my arrest, including what university I sought to attend. It was not until prison, I earned a degree with a perfect 4.0 GPA and she asked how the classes were conducted. She inquired about my early experiences in jail and prison. They were life shattering and extremely violent, however, I spent more time protecting other men from being prey to gangs. Sruthi wanted me to articulate the oppression and misery of maximum security, but this was a subject I didn't like thinking about. She asked me what was my happiest moment then, and because they are so far and few between, I was able to quickly answer. Meeting the girl I had romantically courted overseas by mail was the highlight of my afterlife. The topics covered were positive, praise worthy, and inspiring if not also heartbreaking. However, there was a turning point when Sruthi was critical and antagonistic.

Sruthi did not like me and it went beyond my support of Donald Trump. As a bleeding heart liberal, she had compassion for those with autism, however, I was not a sympathetic retard. I have concealed, overcome, and compensated for any weakness with strength. As a child I learned the ways of "The Lord of the Flies". Sruthi hated the Nietszchean philosophy I identified with and my bullying in high school. She thought my aggression was abhorrent and was appalled rather than entertained when I told her an amusing story where I KOed "The Beer King" at a party. Although I was very romantic and chivalrous with girls I dated, Sruthi was aghast that I could ever reprimand them. She also disdained my use of the word "slut". The feminazi apparently thought women should not be judged for their promiscuity and men should act as effeminate eunuchs. Because I refused to associate with the uneducated and stupid prisoners from the ghetto, Sruthi thought I was arrogant and rather than heroic for defending other white prisoners, she accused me of being a racist and a hater.

I was becoming not only annoyed but bored with the interviews. I was nonsocial and took little enjoyment talking over the phone. In fact, during my incarceration, I have went nearly a decade without using it. A few times I was asked if I felt excited being on the show. No, it was just another grim day in the penitentiary. How much did I really care if Reply All produced a podcast about the blog I wanted shut down? My life? Death? And how fair would it be considering Sruthi disliked me? After she seemed to be angry again, I simply didn't call her back for our next scheduled interview. Instead, I sent her an angry letter that began:  "Dear Megyn Kelly:"

Sruthi Pinnamaneni was very defensive when I eventually did get back in touch with her. She insisted that despite our political discord, it would not affect her reporting. I said, "What about your Marxist overlords?"  Since I began talking with Sruthi, I had finally been sent some background information about the people at Reply All. A few of them were further to the left than her. In fact, I imagined they idololized the likes of Lenin, Trotsky, and Karl Marx. On the phone, I was disparaging in other ways and Sruthi warned me not to say such things when she was in the studio, although part of what I said was in jest.

Sruthi very much wanted to do a podcast on my case. I had already assumed she did:  the Palatine Massacre, a double murder trial, one man freed another condemned to an eternity in prison for purportedly lending his car....  It would be a much more captivating story than my blog or obituary. I agreed to continue to be candidly honest and open to any questions. I assisted her in gaining documents and contact information of both friends and foe. Reply All also had my approval to be as racy and melodramatic as they wanted. Make a riveting story, I told Sruthi. However, I just ask three things: be fair, objective, and truthful. In episode 4, all these ground rules were broken.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Paul's Response to the Podcasts - Part 1

Reply All was a small upstart podcast program that premiered in 2014. The ratings were poor and producers struggled to increase the show's audience. I received overtures from the podcast as well as a few others and ignored them until Sruthi Pinnamaneni sent me a letter in mid-2015.  I appreciate people who take the time to write me directly at the penitentiary and will almost always respond. Sruthi initially came across as a genuinely nice person seeking an interview about my life and blog. The blog was supposed to be extinguished as my life had been long ago yet many people continued to express an interest in hearing those death knells. Thus, for blog readers and to some extent myself, I thought an obituary was in order. Although I was aware Reply All was produced by amateurs eager for media recognition, I did not expect the podcast to slip into tabloid journalism nor a malicious attack on my innocence.

Towards the end of my blog writing, I was informed a few radio broadcasts were interested in speaking with me. I inquired if any of them were Rush Limbaugh.  No, none of them were my favorite and most listened to conservative talk show in America. Unfortunately, they were all liberal news programs with niche or minuscule audiences. I had no interest in being a guest caller or the subject matter of a left-wing radio broadcast that I had never heard of. Eventually, however, I was told National Public Radio wanted to interview me for a show.  NPR is a station which can be heard across most of the country. It has a liberal slant, however, due to public funding has some programs which are objective and or just meant to be informative. Under those circumstances, I was open to being on their show.

In July of 2015, I received a letter from Sruthi. She introduced herself as a reporter for Reply All. She mentioned that a couple of people who work with her formerly worked on another show at NPR. She provided a phone number and said a prepaid account had already been established. I rarely listen to NPR and spent the next couple months trying to find the time her program was being broadcast so I could assess the quality, subject matters, and slant of the shows, if any. I tuned in days and nights at various hours, but found nothing. My cellmate stayed up very late watching television and I asked him to tune in periodically. He told me none of the shows introduced themselves as Reply All or were hosted by any of the names I gave him. I began to wonder what obscure time or day this broadcast was transmitted and if it ever was transmitted on the Chicago area affiliate.

It was autumn when I eventually spoke with Sruthi Pinnamaneni. Unbeknownst to me, the business card she sent had her own cell phone number on it and she asked if I could call her back at the studio. I informed her that this would necessitate having the new number approved and then entered into the prison's collect call system provider. She then would have to set up a new prepaid account with Securus. Instead, we just spoke on her cell phone and this is when I first learned she was not a reporter or host of a NPR program. In fact, her show was not even broadcast on the radio but the Internet. I had never heard of a podcast before and she had to explain it. Later, I asked a guard if he ever heard of a podcast. He said yes, but never listened to any. They were a low budget way for anyone to gain a public audience. My cellmate commented that the "news reporter" may actually be a pretender operating out of her basement. Maybe, he jested, she was just a blog fan.

In my subsequent conversations with Sruthi, I did sense she was intrigued by my blog. We spoke at length about how it was created, some of the posts and why I wrote them, as well as why I ceased to write them. She was very friendly and I liked to occasionally joke with her although she often missed my flat humor. I sensed the host of Reply All was an amateur and did not quite know what would be the focus of her narrative. I agreed to work with her to produce one half-hour program about the blog that would also lightly cover my life and injustice. Somewhere along the line, she or her colleagues at Reply All had different ideas. Possibly, their objective was malicious from the beginning.

With a name like Sruthi Pinnamaneni, I knew she was an East Indian before I called her. I was surprised when she didn't have that unique accent I encountered before my arrest when 7-11 employees took my order and inquired if I wanted a Slurpy. She said the reason she was without an accent was because she wasn't an East Indian but a South Indian. Sruthi was from Hyderabad, India. I never heard of anyone claim to be a South Indian and it amused me. In the U.S. there are only American Indians or Eastern Indians. This is how Americans distinguish between the natives and those actually from India. In jest, I inquired if she was a South American native. Maybe, I mused, she was a descendant of the Inca peoples. From then on I referred to her as a South Indian and that is where the short clip of me saying she was a South Indian socialist and Gandhi supporter in the first episode came from.

Most of our conversations occurred during the early part of the tumultuous Republican presidential primary. Much to Sruthi's displeasure, I spoke glowingly of Donald Trump. The style and messaging of his campaign was phenomenal.  It was not that of a polished career politician, but unfiltered, bold, and nationalistic. He exuded strength and leadership. His business acumen was also in dire need in the U.S.  Barack Obama's 8 year tenure had doubled the debt and led to anemic economic growth. America had the lowest workforce participation rate since the Great Depression and those with jobs had seen wages decline. In contrast, Donald Trump had turned a million dollars into over a billion dollar real estate empire. He also had a unique and brilliant prescription for decreased employment and earnings. All the Republican candidates supported lower taxes and government, however, Trump saw how international free trade agreements were harmful. He advocated for better trade agreements which put America and American workers first. The disaster of a Obama-Clinton foreign policy was obvious to all Republicans. Yet, again, Donald Trump deviated from the pack. He sought a policy where America's military and alliance network served real politik interests. Finally, Trump unabashedly rejected an open-borders cosmopolitan state overrun by foreigners, drugs, and terrorism. To me, the most dangerous existential threat to the U.S. is not Russia, China, N. Korea, or ISIS. It is the crumbling of the racial and cultural center of America. A house divided cannot stand. "Make America great again" is a powerfully appealing motto.

Sruthi Pinnamaneni loathed Donald Trump. She is a left-wing liberal who had spent most of her career advocating when possible for socialist and humanitarian causes. She was born in India but had traveled a lot eventually finding comfort in the polygot metropolis of New York City. She is a globalist and fails to see the importance of national sovereignty or U.S. exceptionalism. In fact, she once told me she thinks of all borders around the world as lines in the sand. Compare this with "I'm building a wall!" or Donald Trump's immigration stance which the East Indian reporter could be directly affected by. She is not a U.S. citizen and has two anchor babies. The podcast briefly mentions our political discourse, however, there were a number of heated arguments which at times led to her bitterly ending the conversation.

Considering Sruthi Pinnamaneni was creating the podcast, people may think it was unwise or even foolish for me to have such abrasive debates. However, I am not good at being anyone except my authentic self. As is mentioned in episode 1 of the podcast, I find most people as duplicitous. In contrast, I don't put on facades. Sruthi wanted a story about the blog and the blog is me and a quintessential part of me is my politics. I grew up fondly in the era of Ronald Reagan and quickly became a staunch paleoconservative. I believe strongly in rugged individualism, liberty, and nationalism. In my first and only election, I voted for the anti-establishment businessman Ross Perot over George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton because of his economic and America 1st messaging including his vehement opposition to NAFTA. Jeb Bush has been rejected and Americans have a chance to choose another Clinton or a new path. It is a monumental decision in the fate of this nation and more important I thought than my blog. Later, however, Reply All would change its focus to my criminal conviction.
To be continued.....