(This was just received and written by Mike a week before his execution on October 5, 2017
I now have less than a week to go until my scheduled execution. Yesterday I was put on “Phase II” of death watch. I stay in the same solitary cell, but now they take all my personal property out of the cell — even my clothes and shoes (except for what I’m actually wearing) and put a guard in front of my cell to watch every move I make and write it down. No privacy anymore!
And shortly after they removed all my property, the warden (warden Barry Reddish) came down with a few people from Medical. I can only assume that it was the “doctor” responsible for carrying out the execution. They went to great lengths to conceal his identity, as although I could tell he was an upper middle aged white man, maybe just a bit shorter than I am, he was dressed from head to toe in a light baby blue hazmat suit, which included a white surgical mask. So all I could see of him was his eyes. He kept his head down — probably some part of him has to be ashamed of making a living putting people to death.
Then again, for all I know, he could be eagerly volunteering for the job, only too happy to help carry out these state sanctioned murders and probably couldn’t care less if he helped kill an innocent person or two. With total detachment, I was ordered to extend my arm through the cell-front bars and this masked man proceeded to touch my veins at the inner elbow, first the left arm and then the right, while whispering to another man standing beside him, and that was that. Now they were ready to kill me. Yep, not just a job — it’s an adventure.
Earlier today I had a visit with the “second chair” lawyer assigned to my case, Bryan Martinez. He’s been working on my case for a few months, but this was the first time I’ve met him. And because I was in “Phase II” this legal visit was non-contact (behind glass).
Just before Bryan entered the prison he received a phone call from the state-agency office letting him know that the Florida Supreme Court had just issued its 5 to 1 decision denying my last State appeal. That was the one arguing that the Florida Supreme Court’s earlier decision that held that although all of Florida’s death-sentenced prisoners were illegally sentenced under last year’s decision in Hurst vs Florida, only those sentenced after June 2002 could be granted relief, was unconstitutionally arbitrary and unfair.
My lawyers argued that this “partial retroactivity” rule had to be set aside, as it was constitutionally unsustainable — never before has any court recognized that a new law was retroactive, only to then limit retroactivity to some but not all.
But the majority of the court refused to address the issues, instead summarily reiterating that they already decided the issue and would not address it again. However, Justice Pariente dissented, writing a lengthy opinion as to why the rest of the court was wrong and unequivocally stating that they are constitutionally obligated to throw the illegally imposed sentences out.
By early next week — before this blog can be posted — my lawyers will file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing why Justice Pariente’s dissent correctly recognized that constitutional “due process” and the prohibition against infliction of cruel and unusual punishment dictates that my illegally imposed death sentences must be vacated.And obviously, if the death sentences are thrown out, they cannot execute me.
This is one of the things I have a hard time trying to explain to my family and friends, who ask me how it is that they can execute me when the courts do recognize that my death sentences were illegally imposed. Common sense leads most to assume that if a person has been illegally sentenced to death then they cannot legally execute that person.
But as I’ve said too many times already, when it comes to the death penalty, the insidious politics of death trump what’s fair and right. In our legal system, the Supreme Court itself (Herrera vs Collins) made it clear that there is no constitutional prohibition against executing the innocent — and if a state can “legally” execute an innocent person, then they can also proceed to execute someone who has been illegally sentenced to death… the ends justify the means.
So, in just a few days the odds are that I will be put to death for a crime that I am innocent of — and despite the irrefutable fact that I was illegally sentenced to death by non-unanimous jury votes, what they cannot do is say that they are administering justice as there’s nothing fair or just about about carrying out the execution of an innocent person who was illegally sentenced to death.
No matter, I’m almost done whining about how inherently unfair and politically corrupt our legal system is. By the time this blog is posted, I will probably be dead.
But then again, maybe not… a funny thing happened this week in that at least at the time I’m writing this offers a bit of hope. On Monday, September 25, the United States Supreme Court did their “conference” on cases considered for review and included in that conference was my case that under Martinez vs Ryan, the claims collectively establishing my actual innocence must be heard.
Normally, after such a conference the Court will release its list of the cases that were denied review — or granted review. We anticipated a decision in my case by no later than Thursday (September 28), but as of Friday evening there still has not been any released decision.
Do I dare get my hopes up that maybe, just maybe, the Court will do the right thing and order that the lower Federal courts must allow the evidence substantiating my consistently pled claim to b heard? I want to — I really do want to hope. But there’s that part of me that tells me that if I do dare hope that the failure to release a decision could mean I may have won and my execution will be call off, then on Monday we will get the news that they denied relief.
At this point, now only days away from my scheduled execution, I am afraid to get my hopes up. It is easier to accept my intended fate and spend these last few days preparing for my death. A big part of that preparation is finding the strength not to be angry at this injustice so deliberately imposed upon me.
Too often, I find myself wanting to pray that those who have judged me will be judged by the same measure. But I don’t want to allow those thoughts in… my spiritual faith instructs me to forgive others as the only condition of being forgiven myself.
And I know that if I must die in a few days, I will be in a better place and that despite my 34 years of being condemned to solitary confinement, I have been blessed by having so many who chose to come into my life and extend love and support. I could not have maintained my strength without those who have stood by me. So, as I spend what will most likely be my last few days on earth, I choose to focus on how blessed I am to have had so many others there for me.