Now that Hurricane Irma has blown through, things are finally getting back to “normal” and my lawyers are able to work on my case. Still, losing that first few weeks on a 34-day death warrant left us with less than three weeks to pull together what needs to be done.
As I previously wrote, though, fortunately we already had four appeals pending in various courts. I remain hopeful that those pending appeals will be met by the courts with favor. This Monday (Sept 25) the U.S. Supreme Court will address my one stronger appeal on the argument that contrary to what the Supreme Court instructed in numerous other cases, the lower federal courts in my case improperly denied any opportunity to address numerous claims that if addressed on their merits would support my innocence.
I’m hoping that at a minimum the Supreme Court will order a summary remand of that case (Lambrix vs Jones), as if they do, then this whole death watch thing will end and my case be sent back to the lower federal courts for full review on the merits of issues that should lead to my exoneration and release.
But I don’t want to get my hopes up. I know only too well that the Supreme Court rarely grants review, much less relief in capital cases. They receive over 10,000 cases each year and of those less than 100 are granted review. The odds are significantly against me and in 34 years of dealing with this, nothing has ever gone my way. The only real surprise is that I wasn’t put to death many years ago.
That does not mean that I’m throwing in the towel. I will continue to fight this fight until I breathe my last breath. I can’t stop the state of Florida from killing me for a crime I didn’t commit. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t do all I can to stop them from doing that.
I wanted to do a hunger strike to protest this injustice, but after 12 days I decided to stop. I could have gone the distance, but it became clear that it was too hard on my family. They were worried, and they’re already going through enough, so when they visited this past Tuesday I let them know that I was ending my hunger strike.
The way I see it, I made my point, as I went 12 days without consuming anything but water. And according to the prison records, I lost 18 pounds. Actually, that was funny as on Thursday (Sept.21) when I hit the two-weeks-until-execution mark, they brought down the dark blue suit the state bought last year to kill me in, just to make sure it still fit. But when I tried the pants on, they fell to the floor. I lost at least two inches from the waist. And the shirt no longer fit either. I thought that was funny.
I was able to see my daughter for two days this past week, thanks to my sister bringing her. Those who know me know that my daughter Jennifer (who is now 38) is mentally disabled due to oxygen deprivation at birth. She is a “forever child” — she will always have the mental capacity of a child (preteen), and doesn’t really understand that within just a few weeks I could be gone. In a way, I’m glad that she doesn’t really get it as I don’t want to see her hurt. But I also worry about who will be there for her once I’m gone.
But hopefully, it won’t come to that. I guess I’m just kind of down on all of this as, although this is not my first time facing execution, this time seems different and I’m not as confident that I will win another stay of execution. I actually do have numerous strong appeals, including those specifically addressing my actual innocence and arguing why they must allow DNA testing.
The problem is that the courts are openly hostile to anything we file. A few months ago the Florida Supreme Court went so far as to blatantly lie when addressing our request for DNA testing, denying it upon the false finding that DNA testing had already been done — it wasn’t.
Fl Supreme Court
And the federal courts are even worse. The federal judges who control my case are outspoken proponents of the death penalty and have a long history of refusing to grant relief to capital petitioners under any circumstances. They’ve repeatedly lied about the case and there’s no pretense of objectivity or fairness. For that reason, I already know that anything we file in the lower federal courts will be summarily denied.
So all of this ultimately will come down to the U.S. Supreme Court and that won’t be until the very day of my scheduled execution. By that time next week we will have at least five separate appeals before the Supreme Court and they could just throw them all aside and not even look at them.
But my lawyers remain especially hopeful that the Supreme Court will take notice of the one issue addressing the illegally imposed death sentences. There’s no question that I was illegally sentenced to death as the jury votes in my case were not unanimous as they are now required to be.
The Florida Supreme Court recognized that I and all others who had a less than unanimous jury vote for death were illegally sentenced. But the FSC decided that they would only grant relief to those illegally sentenced after June 2002 — and that, because it would be too burdensome to grant relief to everyone, those sentenced prior to 2002 would not be granted relief.
This unprecedented “partial retroactivity” has created a big issue that most legal experts feel the U.S. Supreme Court will find unconstitutionally “arbitrary” and fundamentally unfair. The problem, however, is that it could take years before the Supreme Court decides they are ready to address the issue, and by then, I and many others will be long dead.
All we can do is wait and see. All of this is actually so much harder on my family and friends — they too must deal with the uncertainty of my fate, and I worry about those closest to me.
But at the same time, I know how blessed I am. There’s so many out there doing all they can to try to stop this machinery of death. Already, Governor Scott has received more signatures protesting my intended execution than any other, but even if God himself tried to plead with Governor Scott, it would fall on deaf ears as the only thing Governor Scott cares about is his campaign for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2018, and executions win elections.
I am disappointed that the media has not shown any interest in the evidence substantiating my innocence. The death penalty is no longer a story to the media… apathy proves deadly.
But I’m doing alright and I thank those who sent me cards of prayer and support. All we can do is stay strong and keep the faith.