5/27/12

Antoinette Frank

I received a letter from Antoinette Frank yesterday and was quite surprised. I haven't heard from her in many years. Her letter was the same crazy jailhouse elegance that so many inmates become proficient in. She told me she was out of stamps. Although, she didn't quite say she was out of stamps.
What she said was:
 Before I close, I need to let you know that I am low on resources such as postage stamps and envelopes, etc. So if it is acceptable with you, could you please help me to be able to purchase some of the items that I utilize?


Shes had a few books published, apparently, since our last talk. She does not exactly say so plainly though. Instead of, I got some books published, she says:
I did get my literature published. I thought that I had already relayed to you how you could acquire my published materials.


She really reminds me of the character from In Living Color in the 1990's, Oswald Bates.

5/20/12

Death as a Bargaining Chip

What does it say about the status of American justice when the death penalty is used as nothing more than a bargaining chip?
I was performing my duties as an intern for my local county probation office when I heard a familiar name and went out to check it out.
I found a friend in the hallway about to go to court. She had been arrested for aggravated assault.
The part that puzzled me is that this young woman was at home with her daughter and mother when the other girl showed up. She had called and text messaged her frequently throughout that whole day before finally showing up with two other girls and a small baby in tow.
My friend had no choice but to fight her.
Fight she did. In fact, she beat the brakes off that ol' girl.
So much so, in fact, that when she showed the D.A.'s office the pictures of what my friend had done to her they immediately bound it over to a jury trial.

My friend was devastated. No one could quite understand why she was being tried for aggravated assault when the girl went to her house with back-up and looking for a fight. Her lawyer explained that is how the court works. The courts will bring the highest possible punishment against her to have a bargaining chip to work down from.
This seems really skanky to me but wait...it gets worse.
An Ohio prosecutor made headlines this week for an equally skanked out move. He used death as a bargaining chip.

Within days of a drug-related slaying in suburban Cleveland, six men were indicted on charges that carried the possibility of a death sentence. Six months later, all had been allowed to plead to lesser charges, including four who received probation and never went to prison.

In short, the men quickly went from facing the possibility of being strapped to a gurney and having 5 grams of pentobarbital injected into their veins, to prison sentences more typical for robbers and thieves.

Elsewhere in Ohio, prosecutors are pursuing only the most heinous crimes as death penalty cases and are refusing to plea bargain, or are using a 2005 law that allows them to seek life with no chance of parole and never place capital punishment on the table.

The whole ordeal leaves a bad taste in my mouth and feeling slightly embarrassed for the behavior of those we put in positions of authority in this country.

5/18/12

Chelsea Richardson Removed from Death Row

Chelsea will be resentenced to life within the next 30 – 45 days. I do write to Chelsea and have spoken with her mother. It has always been a bone of contention among the family that Chelsea was the only one of all the kids involved to get a death sentence.

It made no real sense in the first place since there was the least amount of physical evidence that pointed to her. Some evidence was even held from the trial proceedings and that, in fact, is why she will receive a new sentencing hearing.

According to Chelsea and her family, Stephanie Toledano was the mastermind of the murders of Chelsea’s boyfriends parents. She had been staying with Chelsea, her mom and her brother because she was having trouble at home.

The fact that certain evidence was withheld from the trial has caused may remarks about misconduct by prosecutors in the case. Sadly this is seen so, so often. A prosecutor wants to win so bad they misrepresent the case or sometimes just wants the case solved so bad they lie to themselves.

On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals sent the case back to Tarrant County for a new sentencing hearing, noting, "The state, through its prosecutor Mike Parrish, failed to reveal
Brady material regarding an examination of its key witness by a psychologist, which affected
the punishment phase of her trial."

Writing as Prison Therapy


It is astounding to me how few benefits people attribute to the simple act of writing a letter. The very fact that it's so involuntary to human kind should tell us something. The urge to write down thoughts and ideas is apparent in all of us.Why is it so hard then for so many to believe that writing is a healing art that can be used in rehabilitation.

Writing and reading written correspondence is still so effective that counselors recommend it to work out relationship problems and personality issues. Psychologists tout the benefits of journalling and writing letters to significant others, even if they are never read. It makes living easie, but also encourages the acceptance and understanding of death.

Letters, for the most part, have gone the way of the Dodo Bird. In this day and age of digital media and instant communication, inmates may be the only ones reading and writing letters on a regular basis anymore.In their life's restrictions from the world, culture and humanity, a letter from another soul is often their only learning tool.

Writing focuses the mind and serves as a momentary destressor by releasing tension. The act of creating something, especially a letter, releases chemicals in the brain that have the ability to change moods and establish new mindsets. Why don't we harness this energy, or at the very least, acknowledge its power?



5/15/12

Unrequited Love - Women Who Love Serial Killers and Men on Death Row


anuary of 2003, a waitress in Germany named Dagmar Polzin saw the picture of a convicted murderer while waiting at a bus stop in Hamburg. The photo was of Bobby Lee Harris, posted by an anti-death penalty group. Bobby Lee of North Carolina was on death row for stabbing his boss to death during a robbery. Polzin was profoundly influenced by the photo of Bobby Lee and fell in love that moment.

Later she said: "It was something in his eyes; there was this remorse, the sadness. I was attracted and knew he was the one." In less than a year Polzin and Harris was engaged and she moved to North Carolina to live with his family. For many who read these words this story is astonishing; but if you saw the picture that Polzin fell in love with it would difficult to understand. Harris may be very charming with qualities of a good husband; but he is no leading man. Right now there are more than one hundred British and German women engaged or married to men on death row in the United States. The desire to love men convicted of murder is not limited to European women alone

Prison romance between Polzin is not an isolated incident. it doesn't matter how extreme or appalling the crime with which the individual is convicted of, there is always a woman willing to stand by her man. The marriage vows "until death do us part" takes on a new and unique meaning when your spouse has a date with the executioner. Yes, it is very difficult for the average person to understand why so many well-educated, intelligent women are drawn to men convicted or murder and sentenced to death or to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

For example, Scott Peterson recently convicted and sentenced to death for murdering his pregnant wife Laci. It was reported by officials at San Quentin Prison that in just a few hours after Peterson arrived on death row he received a proposal from a woman who wanted to be the next Ms. Peterson. And according to the warden his office received more than three dozen phone calls on Peterson's first day at San Quentin from women pleading for his mailing address.

Several studies have shown that there is no shortage of women who dream of finding a husband on death row and the deadliest criminals get the most proposals. Take Richard Ramirez, the night starker, he murdered at least 14 individuals, robbed, raped, and beaten many more than that. During his trial he declared "hails Satan" and was considered the embodiment of pure evil. Still, dozens of women flocked to his side after he was arrested. And long lines formed outside the prison; letters arrived by the box filled. After courting several women from behind bars he married 40 year old Doreen Lioy, a freelance magazine editor, in 1996.

John Wayne Gacy, for instance, this guy, a convicted murderer, rapist who murdered thirty-three young boys; even he received many love letters from women. And I understand there's a book published with a collection of letters that women sent to him; basically throw themselves at him seeking a relationship with him. John Wayne did have a relationship with a woman who was delusional and in denial who did not believe that he had committed the murders he was convicted of even though he was on death row about to be executed.

Carol Ann Boone moved from Washington State to Florida to be near Ted Bundy, who was convicted of killing over thirty women across the country. Boone and Bundy got married in 1980 and had one child. However, when she became convinced that Bundy was guilty of his crimes she moved away with their child.

These are just a few instances where women go to the extreme to love men, convicted of murder, on death row. Expert, in the field, say that many of these women do not believe that these serial killers are capable of committing the crimes which they are convicted. Expert like Shelia Isenberg says these women are in denial.

Shelia Isenberg the author of, Women Who Love Men Who Kill, did an in dept psychological analysis of women who are drawn to men who had committed violent acts. During her research Isenberg interviewed many of the women themselves, as well as psychologists, social workers, and prison authorities.

From Isenberg's research it's clear that these women are not all outcasts of society, uneducated ghetto residents, or trailer tramps. These women are teachers, nurses, social workers, waitresses, office workers, and housewives. Isenberg stated that many of the women have been victims of abuse and violence themselves. And there are those who know exactly what type of relationship they are getting into; but their capacity for denial, and the overwhelming desire for a safe, idealized, romantic fantasy of love eclipses their better judgment.

Isenberg went on to say that; "this phenomenon involve a complicated series of reasons. The first reason is that if you are in a relationship with a man behind bars for life or a man on death row, then you have a lot of control over the relationship. You can decide when to make the visit, when to accept the phone call, or if you will accept the call, and you are that man's primary link with the outside world. So as you can clearly see it's a very powerful position to be in."

In addition to power and control, women in relationship with men behind bars receive nearly absolute attention from the inmate; with little or no distraction or serious competition. Men in prison have hours of free time to study the women they are involved. These men study the women's vulnerability and personality traits and use this knowledge to manipulate the women to meet their immediate needs and desires. After all, serial killers and murderers were predators in the real world. Why would anyone think that they would change in prison?

Isenberg points out that; "when you have a man with notoriety, like a serial killer, like Ted Bundy, or Richard Ramirez, or the Melendez brothers, or someone like Scott Peterson, there is a different element. Then the women are also attracted to the notoriety and the fame, and this is her 15 minutes of fame."

Final thoughts; the psychopath

There are many theories and speculations why certain women gravitate to men convicted of murder. Some experts say that these women are mentally-retarded. Why would any rational woman find anything appealing about someone who wants to rape you and murder you.

A more pathological scenarios is that women who love men who kill are women who have a background of abuse and getting involved in this type of relationship; is they way of undoing and re-writing the past. This time, however, she is in control and he's behind bars with no means to hurt her. What is certain, however, the psychological motivation of these women are as varied as the women themselves.

The psychological constitution and the personality traits of serial killers and murderers, on the other hand, is no mystery; they are seasoned psychopaths. The psychopath is forever, and they live in a world of their own.

Even Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, had little to say about the psychopath. He did singled-out the psychopath as an exception to the average criminals. Freud said: "Among adult criminals we must no doubt accept those who commit crimes without any sense of guilt, who have either developed no moral inhibitions or who, in their conflict with society, consider themselves justified in their actions as psychopathic."

The psycho-dynamic of the psychopath is defined in this manner; a lack of remorse or shame, poor judgment and failure to learn from experience, egocentricity and incapacity for love, poverty of affective reaction, and loss of insight

Women who seek out serial killers, murders, rapists, and society's rejects should first take into account the personality of the psychopath. The psychopath is a rebel; his rebelliousness is designed to achieve goals satisfactory to him alone; he is incapable of vigorous effort, of any kind, for the sake of others. All his efforts, no matter what shape it takes, represent investments aimed to satisfy his immediate wishes and desires.

Women who seek intimate relationship and marriage with psychopath behind prison walls should be conscious that when he says "I do" he means I do for myself; everything that I do is to meet my immediate needs and desires.

Women should never forget; there are no prince among serial killers and murderers ... only frogs.

http://www.sheilaisenberg.com

Dr. Smith is an experienced psychologist and psychotherapist who consults with individuals and couples as relationship coach; and on all issues that's profoundly private and confidential. For further information please visit my website and send any question(s) you wish me to answer. http://www.insightconsultant.com

5/14/12

Lorie Ann Taylor Keller of Virgina

Lorie Ann Taylor Keller of Virgina is still awaiting trial for the murder of her ex-husband, his new wife and her 5 year old daughter.
Her trial has been postponed to February 12,2013. If convicted, Lorie would become the third woman since 1953 to be put to death in Virginia by federal prosecutors. Her new husband and co defendant is not facing death.
Ms. Onita Higdon is a 53 year old grandmother who fatally stabbed her sons girlfriend in front of their three year old son.
She seems to be exhibiting signs of mental illness, mumbling in court and speaking out at random moments.
She claims to not have planned the murder. Apparently, an altercation broke out at the sons home in Highland Park, Michigan.
Onita was seen by neighbors and police brandishing an ax and a kitchen knife.
She held her grandchild  and his mother, Milah Perry, hostage for several tense hours before killing Perry and surrendering to the police.

5/10/12

Nicholas Tate

I touched on Nicholas Tate's odd case earlier this year. He murdered a woman and her 3 year old daughter. Although I am not sure we could call it remorse, he has refused to file his appeals saying "You caught me red-handed. My rights were not violated. I chose to waive any and all future appeals."

That didn't seem to really do much in the execution process however. He was scheduled for execution in January. Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty became concerned and voiced how important it is to the justice system in general that all inmates have their appeals process regardless of guilt because it safeguards the integrity of the whole system.

From the Deseret News:

According to court records, Nicholas Tate and two of his younger brothers, Dustin and Chad, purchased ammo, duct tape and knives at a local sporting goods store in December 2001 and then plotted to use the weapons to burglarize the home of Chrissie Williams, who they believed had a stash of drugs and money.

When they arrived at the home, Chrissie's 3-year-old daughter Katelyn answered the door, and chaos ensued. The men tried to knock Chrissie out with a stun gun, but when she didn't lose consciousness they taped her mouth and eyes shut and handcuffed her hands to a bed.

They moved Katelyn to another room, where Nicholas Tate removed her pajamas and sexually assaulted her. Nicholas Tate, who prosecutors say led the plot, ordered Chad to silence the girl because she recognized him. Chad Tate unsuccessfully tried to strangle her with a telephone cord, and he then used Nicholas' knife to slit her throat.

Dustin Tate fled the house in fear. Nicholas Tate put a seat cushion over Chrissie's head as she lay bound to the bed, firing one shot through the pillow to kill her.

The attorneys for Nicholas Tate attempted to have his brother file an appeal on his behalf but the board of pardons rejected it. They now have a halt on his execution saying he intends to file appeals but refuse to comment on it.
Anti death penalty folks say that killing his without an appeal is tantamount to state assisted suicide.

5/8/12

Bitches Lessons Learned From Death Row

I finally finished Bitches, a companion piece to this blog.
It was harder than I thought.
My relationship with the women on Pennsylvania death row was tenuous and I received several letters that were less than polite. I got a little worried for a minuet.
I never fully understood what made them get so upset and the fact that it just kept getting worse no matter what I did was a kick in the ass. I wanted to do something good and it kept blowing up in my face. A real letter bomb, so to speak.
I did put actual letters and the most up-to-date prison photos of the women I could obtain in this little piece.
You can find it at Barnes & Noble too.


Brenda Andrew- Oklahoma Death Row

5/4/12

Illinois Bad Girls

Illinois put a moratorium on executions for a few years before finally ending the whole mess largely due to the Governor noticing the large amount of cases where DNA or further investigation proved the prisoner innocent.
Dwight correctional facility is where there maximum security women are held and there is much talk lately of demolishing it since it has been around so long. The decision was voted down earlier this month but could resurface at any time. 2008 may have been the year a woman got the death penalty she faced two sentences of death penalty, in the case of Tiffany Hall who killed her pregnant friend, her unborn baby and her three other children. But she got life without parole. Tiffany Hall, 26, pleaded guilty to all five charges against her — four counts of murder and one of intentional homicide in the death of the fetus, which she cut from the mother's womb — and was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in prison without parole. Hall struck her friend Jimella Tunstall, 23, on the head repeatedly with a table leg at Hall's mother's house, then cut Tunstall's fetus from her womb in a bathtub. After Tunstall bled to death, Hall dumped her body in an East St. Louis lot. Hours later, Hall told police in Illinois she had been sexually assaulted in St. Louis and given birth to a stillborn child after the attack. When police arrived, she had the dead fetus with her, claiming it was her own. She refused to be examined at a hospital. Three days later, Hall visited the father of two of Tunstall's children and the unborn child. Hall then drowned the three children — DeMond Tunstall, 7, Ivan Tunstall-Collins 2, and Jinella Tunstall, 1 — in the same bathtub where she killed their mother.

 Or- It could have been Tessa Vanvlerah who, along with a California professor she met online, raped her 5 month old daughter repeatedly.
Forensic psychologist Dr. Brooke Kraushaar testified at Vanvlerah's sentencing hearing that Vanvlerah's dependent-personality disorder caused her to participate in Kyle's sexual fantasies, even though she knew sex acts involving the baby were wrong.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,364765,00.html#ixzz1tvfSoFLb
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/tessa-vanvlerah-sentenced-raping-daughter_n_1468776.html

5/2/12

Angela Johnson Federal Death Row




Angela at her first sentencing hearing

Angela Johnson has been on federal death row along with Valerie Friend since 1993 when she was convicted of the murder of 5 people, including 2 children.In early March her sentence was overturned.Judge Mark Bennett cited  her trial lawyers were “alarmingly dysfunctional,” and their performance “so grossly constitutionally inadequate.”
Some of the testing concerning her mental state was never done and when it was the states doctors have said her brain is similar to swiss cheese with several gaps or holes throughout.She also has a borderline personality disorder and myriad mental health issues that were all present years before the crimes took place.

Family members of victims Lori Duncan and Terry DeGeus

Angela's case is a perfect point against the death penalty. There is no doubt that she was involved in the murders but we have so many mitigating issues even besides those I have mentioned here it makes it immoral at the least and unconstitutional for sure.

Angela and one of her lovely sisters are both dear friends of mine. I do occasionally get some nasty letters concerning Angela but I ask you to consider her situation before damning her to hell. She was in a very abusive relationship with a mentally controlling person that was so powerful he had their families, law enforcement and the community fooled. Angela is not without guilt and should be punished, of course, I think even she would say that. But the death penalty is wrong for her.