BREAKING NEWS: Execution Stayed for Michael Lambrix!!

Breaking news: The Florida Supreme Court has issued an indefinite Stay of Execution for Michael Lambrix. Mike was to be executed on Thursday, February 11. The order came hours after the court heard oral arguments that focused on the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this month that struck down the state’s death-penalty sentencing system. Read more: http://www.southerninjustice.net
http://www.save-innocents.com/save-michael-lambrix.html




Michael Lambrix #482053
Florida State Prison
PO Box 800
Raiford FL 32083





Monday, May 2, 2016

Death Watch journal (part 16)

As I write this, it has now been 10 weeks since the Florida Supreme court ordered an indefinite stay of my previously scheduled execution pending judicial review of whether or not my death sentence remains legal under the United States Supreme Court's January 2016 decision in Hurst v. Florida, in which the highest court declared Florida's death penalty process illegal because it allowed a judge and not the jury, to ultimately determine what the sentence would be.

Nobody knows when the Florida Supreme Court will decide this issue, or how they will rule when they do...all we can do is wait it out and until then I will remain under an active death warrant.

So, this week I would like to address another matter - the systemic denial of adequate medical care in the Florida prison system. Generally, I don't talk about my own health problems as it's not something I want to put out there for public consumption. But like so many others here at Florida State Prison - and the Florida prison system as a whole - it's gotten so bad that I must address it and ask for help from those who are reading this.

It's an undisputed fact that many years ago while serving in the Army I had an on-duty accident that resulted in a lengthy hospitalization and my honorable discharge. I am now a legally recognized "disabled veteran" and suffer a permanent physical disability recognized as "degenerative disc disease" in the lower lumbar spine, and "lumbar radiculopathy" with incomplete mild paralysis. What this means in layman's terms is that when I suffered this accident, it resulted in permanent and progressively degenerate damage to my spinal cord that produces often extreme physical pain.

In the many years that I've been in the Florida prison system I have come to accept that the best I can hope for is minimal treatment. If I'm lucky, I can get non-narcotic pain medication to try to manage the pain. Generally, that means a prescription of extra strength Ibuprofen or Naproxen. Being that I am in prison, they're not going to prescribe anything stronger so the most I can do is try to manage the pain, mostly by avoiding physical exertions that would cause a flare-up.

As my condition predictably progressed through the years, so too has the now almost constant pain substantially increased to the extent that even the Naproxen or Ibuprofen have little effect. Again, I generally accept that this is prison and they are not going to do anything more than the minimum. However, shortly after my death warrant was signed and I was transferred to Florida State Prison, I began having problems getting even the Naproxen that that I regularly received, and the Flexeril that I received as a muscle relaxer so that the muscle spasms regularly suffer will settle down enough so that at least I can sleep at night.

The thing is, I'm not alone, since Florida contracted prison medical care to a private company called 'Corizon", which is a for-profit healthcare provider with a long history of denying adequate health care, complaints such as mine have become only too common. These privately contracted health care providers get paid the same whether they actually provide adequate health care or not and so every dollar they spend providing treatments, or even prescribing medication, takes money out of their own pockets and for-profit companies cannot stay in business long if they don't make a profit.

This point needs to be addressed momentarily - the reason America has the highest incarceration rate in the world today is because the American prison system is a for-profit multibillion-dollar industry, and there are thousands of companies that compete for contracts to provide services to prisoners, from sypplying toilet paper, food, health care - even running entire prisons. Most would argue that that doesn't make any sense as prisons cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year.

However, while the taxpayers to pay obscene amounts of money to keep all those prisoners locked up, what is not as obvious is that companies wanting to provide services to this prison industry win the contract by donating huge sums of money to politicians running for office. And when the politicians win elected office, they reward their benefactors with lucrative contracts, only too often amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. That's how the system really works.

Companies like Corizon have a long history of being rewarded contracts to provide health care only to then refuse to provide basic health care as a means of increasing their own profits. In fact, Corizon itself previously went by another corporate name that was awarded a contract to provide medical care to Florida prisoners and provided such deliberately incompetence care that prisoners died, and the contract was terminated...the company then changed the name of the corporation to Corizon, donated huge sums of money to State politicians running for election, and got the contract back.

In the past year the health care provided by Corizon has gotten so bad that again  many prisoners died from being denied adequate medical care. Only after the media made it a story did the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Florida legislature open investigations into the systematic deprivation of adequate health care in Florida prisons. Not surprisingly, neither the FDLE or the Florida legislative actually did anything - not a single person within the Corizon corporation was held responsible for the many inmate deaths resulting from the deliberate denial of adequate medical care..not even one! As soon as the mainstream media lost interest, the whole issue quickly died. 

                                                                 


That's how healthcare in American prisons system really works - it's a completely corrupt process in which the only thing that matters is that the company awarded the contract makes millions while the prisoners suffer and die - and since we are prisoners nobody really cares.

Back to my own problems with receiving even minimal medical care. After my death warrant was signed and I was transferred to Florida State Prison, my prescription "expired" and the doctor simply refused to renew them. They play all kind of games to try to blame the prisonor for the denial of adequate medical care. In my case,  they said that before my prescriptions could be renewed, I needed to have a blood test, and in late February 2016 I had the blood taken, then was seen by "dr. Lee", who refused to renew my medication. I then took the matter to the Florida state prison Warden, who tried to help - only to have the Corizon-employed Health Services administrator blatantly lie to the Warden, telling him that I refused to the blood test, claiming instead that I was seen on March 17th, 2016 and counseled on the importance of providing blood test.

These are the games they play. Anytime you file a formal grievance about the denial of adequate medical care it comes back with the same response - put in a request for "sick call" (the process available to seek medical care). But as with me, and most others, I did put in numerous "sick call" requests, but the Corizon staff will then wait up to several weeks and then do nothing but talk to you at cell front, and they'll tell you to put in another "sick call" request, then another - and if you're lucky several months later you might actually see a doctor, who will then tell you that you need to do another "updated" blood test before medication can be prescribed, and ofter you wait for weeks to have that done, they'll claim you "refused" to do the blood test, and you must start the whole process over again. Of course, they can never produce a signed 'refusal' form as you didn't refuse.

For months now this is what I've been going through - it is what so many others also go through, with many prisoners being forced to suffer, in prolonged physical pain, or even dying. I've been going through this malicious merry-go-round of deliberate denial of basic medical treatment now for over 2 months and still not receiving the medications I need to manage my chronic physical pain. For this reason, as my last available means, I'm asking your help in attempting to compell the Florida Department of Corrections to provide proper medical care. I would ask that you please email Mrs Julie Jones, Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections (email:  jones.julie@mail.dc.state.fl.us ), and Dr. Ogunsanwo, Assistant Secretary, Medical and Health Services ( email: ogunsanwo.olugbenga@mail.dc.state.fl.us ), and ask them to initiate an investigation into the deliberate denial of adequate medical care to inmate Michael Lambrix #482053 at Florida State Prison, who is a legally recognized disabled veteran being denied medications necessary to manage his chronic physical pain.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Death Watch journal (Part 15)

My kingdom for a cup of hot coffee - really, is that too much to ask for? I guess in all fairness I can't really blame anyone for not wanting my kingdom of steel and stone since it does kind of suck. But then there's the few simple pleasures even a condemned man can almost take for granted and for too many years every morning I will awake early, hours before most others around me, so that I can enjoy those few hours of relative quiet as I sit at my so-called "desk" and begin my day by writing whatever it is that has to be written that day as I sip from a nearby cup of coffee.

Sometimes I will already be long at work even before the sun comes up and as I sit at that desk I will watch out that distant dusty window on the outer catwalk as the new day gives way to sunlight, and imagine that I can actually see the sunrise itself, although I can't. At most, I can see the shadows as they appear on the adjacent wing across that narrow strip of grass that separates one cell block wing from another...and as I do, I'll slowly sip from that cup of coffee.

This is the time of day that I like to write those closest to me, and as I write whatever letter I'm writing I will place a picture of the person against my wall only inches away so that I can see their face as I write and it gives me a feeling that in some small way I am with them. And as I do, I drink a lot of coffee and will go through two or even three cups of coffee in those early morning hours that I cherish so much.

As the morning progresses the cellblock around me will slowly come to life, at first through the sound of the first one, then another and all too soon many more flushing toilets - and thank God for whoever it was who invented the flushing toilet as during the colder months all the windows are closed and the ventilation fans turned off and with a hundred other men living in too close proximity to me, absent that ability to flush, the cellblock would quickly become pretty rank in no time at all. And having to live with the smell of many men relieving themselves would seriously compromise the pleasure of my cup of coffee.

                                                               


But for other reasons, it's been a bad week as the hot water went out and for days I could not have that most simple of pleasures -  my ritualistic morning cup of coffee. Don't get me wrong - I didn't actually go without my coffee, as I'm the first to admit that I'm a caffeine junkie and can't even function without that cup of coffee. To give you a good idea of just how bad I got for my beloved caffeine, it wouldn't be too far-fetched to picture me waking up early each morning all but rolling out of my bunk and staggering those few steps to the sink to first splash a bit of cold water on my face so the small world around me will come into focus, and then push the hot water on as it has to run for a few minutes before it will even get warm.

And as that water runs in the sink, I've been known to put my MP3 player on, pushing the earbutts into each ear and crank the volume all the way up to the song "Cocaine" by Eric Clapton, and then in nothing more than my state issued white boxer shorts, I will kind of dance while whispering along with that song - except every time they say the word "cocaine", I substitute it for the word "caffeine". "If you wanna hang out, you got to take her out...caffeine - if you wanna get down, down on the ground..caffeine" (I'll be damned, I think I finally figured out why I regularly get hit with random drug test - which I have never once failed in the past 20-plus years...but it's starting to make sense why they want me to piss in that little plastic cup a lot more than most of the guys around me!) Oh yeah - and a shout out to Eric Clapton...you are a guitar God! :)

So where was I? Oh, yeah - they seriously screwed up my morning coffee ritual this past week when the hot water suddenly went out, and I had no way to get even a cup  of barely warm coffee. And that sucked! All I could do was make my coffee with cold water, and it just isn't the same. Each week I buy, beg or borrow a couple of 4 ounce bags of generic instant coffee and it's already of poor quality but gets that much worse when all I got is cold water to make it with.

I guess I really shouldn't complain though...there's billions of people around the world that don't have any coffee at all and here I am a condemned man waiting to be put to death and I've got nothing better to do than whine about not having a cup of hot coffee? And I'm not really fooling anyone either, as those that really know me know that if they turned the water off altogether I would still figure out a way to get my caffeine fix, even if it meant having to pour that dark powder out into neatly sculpted lines on my so-called desk and snorting it up dry.  yeah, I think we can all agree that I'm an unabashed caffeine junkie and damned proud of it - and most of those reading this can relate, if you're a coffee junkie too!

The truth of the matter is that even on the best of days the most I can hope for is a cup of almost hot, but not quite, coffee as the water in the sink really doesn't get hot - that would be a threat to security as we live in a world where the word "security" is too often thrown up to justify depriving us of even the most simple pleasures. The powers that be have decided that if the temperature of the water is turned up too high to where it might actually be hot, we could use it as a weapon by throwing this hot water on the guards. Of course, that has never happened on death row, but what's reality got to do with it when the true objective of the American prison system is to keep prisoners as miserable as possible and declaring hot water a security risk is only one of an infinite ways they will grossly exaggerated "security concerns"..that's all part of doing time and you just got to roll with it.

But for me, the past week wasn't all that good as I really do miss my morning cups of warm coffee. But I might note that with the hot water gone that also meant very cold showers too. Some might think that can't be too bad since I'm in Florida, but believe me, Florida does get really cold too. The death row units are up in North Florida, not far from the Georgia line, and even this week, in early April, it's going down to almost freezing.

The thing is, this creates somewhat of a paradox - I can deal with a cold shower, and often have, as long as I can have my cup of coffee. In fact, the tier that I'm housed onoften has cold showers as by law they must have one shower on each wing that runs only cold water so that when "chemical agents" are used on prisoners - which happens frequently here at Florida State Prison, the inmate who was a "gassed" must be allowed to take a cold shower to wash the pepper spray off - hot water will cause the liberally used chemical agents to burn. So, sometimes the only thing we get is a cold shower - but at least then when I go back to my cell I can make a cup of coffee.

Presumably, they'll fix the water in a few days and now at least I have something to look forward to. And as I await the uncertainty of my fate, not knowing if any day now the governor will reschedule my execution once again, I hope you'll forgive me if this opportunity, to whine just a bit about not having a cup of hot coffee, provides me with a much-needed momentary distraction

 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Death Watch Journal (part 14)

That cloud of uncertainty continues to hang over my head as we await word on what the courts will do about the question of whether the Supreme Court's decision in Hurst v. Florida (January, 2016) should be retroactively applied to all Florida cases...a decision that may very well decide whether I and many others will live or die.

As of this week I have now been in continuous solitary confinement on Florida's death row for 32 years (I was charged and arrested this case in March 1983 but was not convicted and sentenced to death until March, 1984) In that I am now at Florida State Prison, where those first coming to death row are initially housed, I'm surrounded by many relatively recent "new gains" that was significantly younger than the average death row prisoners - those such as me. They inevitably ask me how long I've been here and when I say "32 years", I smile when they immediately respond "damned bro - that's longer than I've been alive!". Yeah that's just what it comes down to... I have been in solitary confinement under sentence of death now for what amounts to an entire lifetime.

But let's keep this in context..This week I "celebrated" my 56th birthday. I was only 22 years old when I was arrested on this case. Once upon a time I was married and I've got three children, obviously now all grown. As I look into my little plastic mirror and can't help but notice that what hair is not slowly turning gray has already fallen out, I smile as I think that I now have seven grandchildren. That person I was when I was 22 could never have imagined one day waking up and realizing that I'm now a grandpa.

If the State of Florida had its way, I would never have seen my 56th birthday as they never intended to allow me to live beyond February 11, 2016. That was the day they planned to put me to death by lethal injection. And even now I'm in limbo - if the courts rule against me in coming weeks, or months, then the governor will quickly set a new execution date and I will go back down to the bottom floor of "Q-wing" and count down those final days as I've already done 3 times before.

So, how do you celebrate a birthday that wasn't meant to be? There are many who I wish I could spend my birthday with, such as all my friends who sent me birthday cards and best wishes - I wish I could give each and everyone a big hug as it's hard to put into words just how much it means to get a simple card and know that even when you are marked for death by society, there's still that measure of mercy and compassion that gives even a condemned man hope. Too often, when I feel overwhelmed by circumstances around us, it's easy to forget that the whole world isn't trying to kill us.

For those who sent me cards, some that came from complete strangers that didn't even give their name, I truly do thank you. I wish I could throw a big birthday party, not to celebrate my so-called life, as in truth I don't have much of a life to celebrate here in this six-foor concrete and steel cage. Rather, I'd want to celebrate that measure of humanity within those that do reach out in spite of society's demand that we be cast aside and marked for death.

I am reminded of that scene in the Mel Gibson movie "Passion of Christ" where there on the hillside stood those three crosses of Calvary - in the center, Jesus was crucified but to each side of him were common criminals. And all around the crowd gathered, filled with hate and demanding nothing less than death. But then there were the few who suffered the loss of someone they so dearly loved and that moment of compassion became more powerful than all the hate the crowds could muster.

On my birthday I don't celebrate my life, but rather I celebrate those who despite circumstances selflessly reach out in compassion and mercy to offer a few words of good will. They sustain our hope and give us the strength to continue this journey to whatever end will be.

As I write this, today is Easter Sunday - two days before my birthday and the gift I received was truly special...I got to spend the day with my daughter. For only the second time in 32 years it was just me and her. You see, my daughter Jennifer suffered of trauma during childbirth that left her mentally disabled. Despite her handicap, she struggles to live independently and almost 10 years ago married someone and they now have two children.

Life has been anything but easy on them and every day is a struggle - like so many here in America they are poor and little hope of overcoming their circumstances. But I remain inspired as despite the odds against her, my daughter Jennifer doesn't give up.. and she never becomes bitter of how unfair life has been. And she isn't capable of hate or all the destructive traits we see in the world around us.

Everyday she is judged by others around her for what they see, rather than what they know. And yet she responds with a childlike love. As I walked into the death row visiting park today and she came through the door the visitors come through, her face lit up with a smile that comes from the heart and although it's been years since I was last able to hug her, she immediately gave me the biggest hug I've had in a long time and she said: "I love you Daddy" and that almost made me cry. I've been here on Florida's death row since she was 4 years old. And although too many years pass between those hugs, each seems like it was just yesterday.

In a couple of days I will have my birthday and as I do, I want to think about all those who kept me going through their support. And as we all wait for the decision from the courts, I will be grateful for the small things that give even my so-called life meaning..while many may gather outside the prison to celebrate my death, if that day comes, there will still be those who have only compassion in their hearts, and there will be that hug that a father gets from his child. And it's in those moments that even my own struggle not to succumb to anger and drown myself in the negativity of my circumstances that I'm able to rise above it all and bask in that fellowship that comes from those who so selflessly reach out to me.

And so that's all I want for my birthday - the chance to give each of you a big hug and to thank each of you for being a true friend.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Death Watch Journal (part 13)

At what point does it get kind of old to keep beginning its blog with the same story. I'm still on "death watch" and technically under an active death warrant. My previously scheduled execution date of February 11th has now passed by and it's been a month since the Florida Supreme Court issued that order of  a temporary stay, as they continue to consider whether they will apply the January 12 Hurst versus Florida decision declaring Florida's death penalty process unconstitutional and retroactively to older cases such as mine.  I still wake each day mindful of the truth that at any time the court could rule and deny relief - and just that quickly I would be moved back down to the bottom floor of Q-wing and begin to once again count down the days until my appointed death by execution. 

For all the talk about how the execution process might inflict a constitutionally intolerable measure of "cruel and unusual punishment" such as the possibility of a botched execution, I find it incredible that nobody wants to talk about the undeniable psychological trauma inflicted upon the condemned through a process that only too often brings us to that very edge of death's door, only to then "stay" the execution and put you in indefinite limbo as you await word of whether you will live or die. I really just don't get it.

Why is that undeniable trauma amounting to psychological torture is not even being discussed? If someone put a gun to your head and began to pull the trigger again and again, each time having it fall on to an empty chamber would anyone deny that to be psychologically traumatic? Assuming for the moment that it was all just a malicious game of Russian Roulette and there never was any real bullet in the chamber, wouldn't most people still have nightmares many years later? Yet isn't that exactly what the state of Florida is doing when they have me (and others) brought to the brink of death only to pull up at the last moment and say "come back later and we'll try again".

At what point does it cross the line of moral principles that presumably define a civilized society? Don't get me wrong, obviously I'm glad I'm still alive but at the same time this continued anxiety and that uncertainty of whether I will live or die weighs heavily upon not only me, but my family and friends too. I know there are some out there who truly believe in their own demented mind that the more a condemned prisoner suffers the better and yet these self righteous stone throwers want to call me a monster and maybe that's what they need to do to justify the evil within their own heart.

                                                                     


This month marks 32 years now that I've been in continuous solitary confinement condemned to death and three times now I've been scheduled for execution only to be told to come back later. I've ordered my last meal and prepared my last statement which, I might note now that I haven't had the opportunity to say it, would have been borrowed from Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher and father of democracy, and what he said when he too was condemned to death for a crime without legal justification ...."to which of us  go the worst fate, you or I?

I hope you'll take a moment to think about that ...the State of Florida continues to pursue my execution despite my innocence. And just as we live in a society that pretentiously prides itself on being that beacon of human rights for all the world to see, if I've learned nothing else in the over 3 decades that I've been convicted and condemned to death for a crime I did not commit, it's that as a society, we really don't care if innocent people are put to death.

Fortunately there are some who are morally outraged that our society would even risk putting one innocent person to death. But even as oud as they try to scream, their voices are drowned out by the larger crowd that only too quickly gathers to demand nothing less than an expedited execution - and innocence be damned.

A friend recently asked me how do I keep my hope alive - after all this time, why haven't I simply surrendered to my seemingly inevitable fate, and I found myself struggling to find an answer. Why haven't I simply given up as so many others have already? To borrow from an obviously appropriate analogy I'm already cast out upon the open sea struggling to tread water when in truth as each day passes into yet another night and when I awake again, there's still no sign of either land or light on that distant horizon, why not just stop struggling and embrace my inevitable fate, and allow myself to sink beneath the surface and surrender to death.

And then I pull out the pictures of my children, and now my grandchildren, and my parents and my family and friends who have so faithfully stood by my side through all of this and I'm reminded why I continue to fight even when I've grown weak and I want so much to simply surrender and to bring an end to this never-ending nightmare, my strength is renewed when I look upon their pictures and I know that even when I can no longer fight this fight for myself, I can still fight for them.

The truth is that I haven't been dealing so well with this perpetual state of lethal limbo and trap I'm trapped in and that uncertainty of whether I will live or die has taken its toll. I don't like to admit it, but there's a part of me that wishes that I died as scheduled on February 11th and I'm tired of this, so very tired of this never-ending fight. And when I find myself awake in the middle of the night struggling to choke back tears and  angry at myself for allowing such emotions to overcome me, I find that I'm not crying for myself but for the pain that all of this is putting my family and friends through as they've done nothing to deserve any of this, and yet my death would be an even greater loss to them.

However recently someone who is special to me shared a personal story from her own life, how in the not-so-distant past her life spiraled into a seemingly impossible self-destructive cycle that brought her to the point where she overdosed on drugs and at least for a moment died, only to be revived in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital.  And in that moment of clarity between mortality and dead, her first thought was not of herself, or the misery that had become her own life, but of her children and how much it would hurt them to lose their mother and she found the strength to recover and never again surrender to hopelessness and despair through the use of drugs. Her words touched me and how I wish I could have given her a big hug for that. It made me realize that I'm not ready to die, and this fight I fight isn't about me, as what I'm really fighting for is for those who have stood by me so long, those who have so faithfully stood by my side and believed in me even when I no longer held the strength to believe in myself.

At the end of the day what sustains our strength does not come from us alone as although it's only too easy to feel that alone the true substance of our existence is defined by something so much greater than ourselves - our will to survive is nurtured by the love of those who sustain us.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Death row inmate Michael Lambrix awaits fate from court: 'It's my last hope' - Tampa Bay Times



Michael Lambrix has spent a lifetime on death row, successfully dodging his execution over a period of three decades and six governors, with the help of timely intervention by the courts.
In his latest case of good timing, he might even outlast the system that produced his death sentence.
Lambrix, 56, a Plant City High dropout and U.S. Army veteran convicted of two killings, is at the center of an epic legal challenge to Florida's death penalty sentencing system.
He's the first inmate to have his execution halted after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hurst vs. Florida which struck down the state's death penalty sentencing system as a violation of the right to trial by jury, which forced the Legislature to rewrite the law.

Read the article in the Tampa Bay Times HERE
                                                                     

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Open Letter to the Editor of "The Independent Florida Alligator"


Never before have I been compelled to respond to a newspaper article in this manner - but then, any newspaper that was committed to the basic values of journalistici integrity would never has published the kind of article that The Independent Florida Alligator published in the February 29th 2016 edition.

Lawyers always tell their clients not to talk to the media and generally this is good advice. In the 32 years since I've been on Florida's death row for a crime I am innocent of (see, www.southerninjustice.net ) I have almost without exception followed that advice. But when Florida Governor Rick Scott signed my death warrant on November 30th 2015, within hours after the US Supreme Court declined review of my actual innocence claim, and scheduled my execution for February 11th 2016, I decided that against council's advice I would cooperate with the media. One of the so-called journalists that reached out to me was Martin Vassolo, who introduced himself as a staff writer for the University of Florida campus newspaper "The Independent Alligator".  He did not conduct a formal interview but instead mailed me hand written questions.

I have a lot of respect for journalism schools and the commitment that many students have shown in the almost extinct science of true investigative journalism. As a death sentence prisoners I am reminded that it was a journalism class at Northeastern University that took it upon himself to thoroughly investigate every death row case in Illinois, discovering widespread evidence of prosecutional misconduct and exposed the innocence of at least 9 death row prisoners. As a direct result of that commitment to the true spirit of investigative journalism not only were those 9 wrongfully convicted and condemned prisoners of Illinois death row exonorated and released but the governor (Ryan) then ordered a commission to study the entire Illinois death penalty.  After that study, because of widespread flaws in how capital cases were handled, Illinois vacated every death sentence and executions stopped.

So, when I received a letter from Martin Vassolo asking me to respond to his questions, including about my consistently pled claim of innocence, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Although still a student, I assumed that he at least was familiar with principles of journalistic integrity -  or would have a responsible editor overseeing his work prior to publication. Imagine my surprise when I read the February 29th, 2016 article "From death row: the hope for freedom as a local inmate reaches out",  published in The Independent Alligator, although it certainly would have been more at home in the back pages of the National Enquirer.

                                                                 


Had I known that The Independent Alligator condones cheap tabloid sensationalism under the pretense of journalism, I certainly would never have responded to Martin Vassolo. Keep in mind that at the time I did respond I was waiting down the days to my scheduled execution (you can read my weekly death watch journals at http://deathrowjournals.blogspot.com/ and I was - and still am - quite literally fighting for my life.

While some of the largest newspapers in Florida fairly weighed the evidence substantiating my innocence, the "Alligator" instead took it upon themselves to exploit my desperation to prevent my execution for a crime I did not commit. Rather then objectively investigating the actual facts relevant to my case, as reflected in readily available court records, Martin Vassolo instead choose to write, and I quote "What do Ted Bundy and Michael Lambrix have in common? They both have pleasant faces, eloquent vocabularies and plausible stories...however, neither is innocent!

To reach this conclusion, rather then contact any of the prosecutors who actually were involved in my case, Martin Vassolo only reached out to none other than George Dekle, a prosecutor who's only claim to fame is that long ago he "helped put Ted Bundy to jail"

Let me emphasize, this particular prosecutor had absolutely nothing to do with my case - Mr Dekle has no knowledge of the evidence in my case, or the substantial and readily available evidence supporting my innocence. There was absolutely no reason to reach out to Mr Dekle but to shamelessly sensationalize the story by erecting a completely fictious connection between my case and that of Ted Bundy's.

But why would someone who aspires to be a credible journalist - or an editor who actually embraces basic concepts of of journalistic integrity - resort to such pathetic tabloid sensationalism? Does this form of journalism really reflect the values taught by the journalism school at the University of Florida?

I suppose only Martin Vassolo and his editor can answer that question, and for the record, that question was asked of Mr Vassolo, to which his reply was, and I quote: " In my article I aimed for balance. I told both sides of the story...all need to be considered fairly and in an unbiased manner".

Well, that certainly is a mouthful - you just got to love it when wannabe journalists already learned the art of speaking with a forked tongue. Mr Vassolo's article was anything but "fair and unbiased" and he certainly made no meaningful attempts to tell the whole story.

For example, Mr Vassolo made no mention of the indisputed fact that that the entire wholly circumstantial (i.e, no eyewitnesses, no physical or forensic evidence, no confessions etc) theory of alleged premeditated murder was based on the self serving testimony of a single key witness, Frances Smith, who only went to law enforcement after she was arrested on unrelated charges, while in the exclusive possession of the victim's vehicle. Even then Smith gave law enforcement numerous conflicting stories and failed a polygraph test. But based on legal technicalities the jury was not allowed to hear about Smith's other stories, or that she failed a polygraph test. The first trial ended in a "hung" jury.

The only witness that coroborated Frances Smith's story was Deborah Hanzel, but years after that trial Hanzel unequivocally recanted, testifying under oath that Frances Smith and the prosecutor's lead investigator Miles Daniels had coerced her to provide that false testimony...it was then revealed that Smith and Daniels were having an illicit sexual relationship when the case was prosecuted. As if that wasn't enough, it was subsequently discovered that the prosecutor deliberately concealed numerous hairs found on the alleged murder weapon that the state has conceded belong to none other than Frances Smith.

But let's get back to what Mr Vassolo actually did write about - how he solicited comments from former prosecutor George Dekle, that "Lambrix could not have acted in self defence..because one hit from the tire iron would have left Moore unconcious rather than dead". What is especially troubling about this presumably "qualified" comment is that it's clear that  Mr Dekle made no attempt to actually look into the official autopsy report, and nor did Martin Vassolo.

Had either Vassolo or Dekle actually looked at the autopsy report, or read the testimony of the State's own medical examiner, they would have known that the State's own evidence shows that the deceased Moore was struck in the temporal forehead, at an angle consistent with Moore being the aggressor, a fact further supported by the virtual absence of any "defence wounds" - which is why the prosecutors familiar with this case reluctantly concede that the State's own evidence is consistent with my claim of being compelled to act in self defence.

But neither Martin Vassolo or the Independent Alligator had any intentions of actually looking at the readily available facts, or do an objective article - rather they only too readily embraced the lowest form of journalism - tabloid sensationalism, irreparably undermining the the integrity of the newspapers as a whole. This paper represents the student body of the University of Florida, and every student, especially those that aspire to be credible journalists - should be outraged by the article that Martin Vassolo wrote.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Note from Mike


Thank you for all your comments, both on my blog and my website, and the cards and letters I received, and I am both touched and grateful for all the thoughts and prayers. Some of you remained confused as to why I continue to write "death watch" blogs when the court gave me a stay of execution on February 2, 2016. The reason I contiue to write is because I am still on death watch - I only received a temporary stay of execution pending review by the Florida Supreme Court. At anytime the court could rule against me and a new execution date will be scheduled.  But to be clear, I am still under an active death warrant and the threat of execution hangs over me. Hopefully the court will rule favorably as if I win this legal issue then all prisoners on Florida's death row will win too. But in coming days, or weeks, if the court rules against me then a new execution date will be scheduled.

Innocent and Executed - please read