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Showing posts from May, 2012

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.

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 assaul…

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 th…

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, …

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 Stat…

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.

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…

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.


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 …

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 unconstituti…