Part 3 in the Serialization of Felix’s Case

By Pat Bliss

[Editor's Note: This is the 3rd embed in our series chronicling the trial of Felix Garcia. At this point, all the data that was previously published on the page, Blisshas now been made available in PDF embed format. We will begin reproducing the page, Bliss-2, and the series should be complete shortly. This particular section of the story is taken from transcripts of testimony, and is presented in block quote format, with a few notes by Ms. Bliss. Unfortunately, no graphics could be made available, while sticking to this strict format.

Hence, it makes for a somewhat difficult read, but it is well worth struggling through. Buried within this testimony is a great deal of information indicating Felix's innocence, the extent of the effort gone to, by his family, to frame him, and the bias of detectives and prosecutors against him. I found it to be a thoroughly fascinating read. -- BitcoDavid]

Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.

Over 400 Signatures for Felix

By BitcoDavid

I was delightfully surprised when checking Felix’s petition, this morning. We’ve finally gotten out of the 300s, where we’ve been stuck for months. We are now the longest lived, and largest petition, since this case went public. As Pat Bliss stated in her last update, the clemency hearing for Felix is underway now. We need to get his petition delivered to Pam Bondi, Governor Scott and the rest of the cabinet members immediately. And we can’t do that until we have those 1000 signatures.

Please sign the petition, share it with your friends on FaceBook, Twitter and all the other social networks. E-mail it those, whom you believe can help. An innocent Deaf man is counting on us. He’s been seeking the justice that is rightfully due him, for over 30 years.

 

Felix, it turns out, is good with computers. In fact, he’s actually written several programs in use today, for the Florida DOC. Wouldn’t it be great to see this man who’s had his entire youth stolen from him, complete his education and perhaps find a place in the computer industry? Or think of the book he could write. Maybe the contribution this deeply devout Christian can make to the religious community.

No matter what he does, Felix must be freed. He deserves the chance at a life. He deserves Justice.

So, when you’re friends ask what you did today, you can either respond with the usual – nothing, or you can say you helped a Deaf man, framed in a murder case – and wrongfully imprisoned for 30 years – finally, win back his freedom. Please! Please! Make it the latter.

In case you missed it, in its many locations on the site and in this post, here’s the link to this vital petition:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/453/783/026/felix-garcia-should-be-granted-a-full-pardon

Please understand that Felix’s clemency is up to the Judge, the lawyers – the court. But this petition, especially when delivered into the hands of power in the state of Florida, can have a profound impact on the final outcome of those hearings.

[Editor's Note: You can see Felix's amazing 8 part video interview with Pat Bliss and James Ridgeway, on our site. Links to all 8 segments can be found in our right hand sidebar. But for convenience, I have included a link to the first segment here. -- BitcoDavid]

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

The Theft of Dignity by Pastor Mark Ehrlichmann

By BitcoDavid

Pastor Ehrlichmann is a member of HEARD, and a supporter of the #JusticeForFelix project. Below is a letter he wrote for use in his Ministry, regarding Felix and the plight of all Deaf prisoners. It’s a heartfelt and profound read, and we are grateful to the Pastor for sharing it with us – and for all the work he does for the inmates.

If the text of this document is too small for you to read, you can zoom it in by clicking the magnifying glass icons on the bottom of the embed. You can also view it in full size, by clicking the link directly beneath it.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Remember We Are Picture People

By Pat Bliss

Image: Pat Bliss

Image: Pat Bliss

I just came back from my third trip to Florida in 4 1/2 months. Each trip had a purpose as a step further to show the innocence of Felix Garcia and towards his freedom. Felix may not be fully cognizant of what all these meetings/interviews      mean to him but he certainly participates with all his might, and answers questions to the best of his ability.

This trip involved Felix being interviewed by a reporter for a major Florida newspaper. Our scheduled appointment began at 9 A.M. But, there are procedures one must go through up front. Before being allowed into the prison, we gave the staff at the outside window, our IDs. They checked these IDs with their computer roster. When it was Okayed, and because we were going in as media, we all got special badges. The heavy metal gates clinked open and we went on inside – first, to be searched; all rings, bracelets, watches, eyeglasses accounted for. Oh yes, cannot forget the car key. The reporter had a pen and pad and of course, the camera equipment for taking pictures. Staff led us into the visiting area for the interview. The visiting area at Tomoka comprises of one enclosed large room with a canteen. From this room, you can go through double doors to a fairly large semi-enclosed room with barred windows. this room opens to the outside area, where there are concrete picnic tables. Everything is enclosed in barbwire. We settled for the middle room with its large picnic type tables.

A generic visiting room, not the one at Tomoka.http://bahlool.deviantart.com/art/Prison-visiting-room-99587324

A generic visiting room, not the one at Tomoka.
http://bahlool.deviantart.com/art/Prison-visiting-room-99587324

As per past interviews we’ve had, it was a very emotional time. Felix is so open and expressive. In my title, I said picture people, meaning that the deaf relate to pictures – not words – in general. Felix told me the reason for this, is the Deaf dictionary and the hearing world’s dictionaries are inches apart (he showed me the difference with his fingers). So, Felix tells much of his story to the reporter by demonstration. He is so precise, as to exactly what took place, that no one could misunderstand what he was saying.  Sign interpreter, Cheryl Santana from Interpreter Source in St. Augustine, was the conduit between us hearing people and Felix in understanding one another.

[Editor's note: ASL interpreters view their clients with the same level of confidentiality as do doctors and lawyers. Generally, they ask that we don't print their names. To facilitate those seeking interpreter services, in the Florida area, I have left the company name intact. --BitcoDavid]

Felix can read lips and speak pretty well but he’s not wise in formal settings for legal visits or media interviews – room for misinterpretation comes into play. During the interview, the camera operator was clicking away. She must have taken at least a hundred pictures. We were limited as to where the cameras would be shooting so not to include any wire fences or other inmates in the background. The interview should be in print in about 2-3 months. I will definitely let DeafInPrison.com know when it comes out, so it can have a link available to you readers.

I stayed over the weekend with a friend in Daytona Beach Shores and visited with Felix. The procedure as a visitor is the same for access inside the prison except there is a hand scan machine to put my right hand in to identify me electronically.  Once Felix arrived and we found seats, we talked about what is going on with his supporters, his prison life and anything else we could think of. The acoustics are very bad in these rooms. The noise (people talking loudly) around me was unbelievable to the degree that I was “deaf” in understanding much of what he was saying. There is also the fact our communication is not perfect and misunderstandings do occur. So Felix was thinking ahead. He had a pen handy, grabbed a few white napkins, and what I could not understand, he printed in brief sentences to get his point across. Or, if there was something I needed to remember, I would write it down and show him to be sure I understood what he said.  Nevertheless, one thing stood out. The phrase he repeatedly said many times. “Remember, we are picture people.” I took note of that and was quite aware then, as to why he drew diagrams a lot – it was in order for me to better understand what he was trying to convey.

On my way home, I was thinking about the phrase “we are picture people” and realized over the years, that Felix was in the habit of drawing – he would draw for clarity. Strangely, it wasn’t until this past weekend that I fully understood this was a Deaf trait in communication. I have come to appreciate the pictures in a new light.

Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.

Eighth and Final Chapter in the Felix Garcia Video Series

By BitcoDavid

Here, at long last is chapter 8 in our video interview series with innocent Deaf inmate, Felix Garcia. Those of you who have followed us on this journey know that Felix has served 30 years – so far – for a crime he didn’t commit. DeafInPrison.com is one among many who have worked to try to gain Felix his freedom.

This video is owned and copyrighted by James Ridgeway of SolitaryWatch.com. It can’t be copied, reproduced or embedded, but you are of course welcome to share the link to this page.

Tomorrow, I will put up a post containing links to all 8 chapters in sequence. That way, those of you who haven’t seen them all, will be able to do so.

As you know, there is a petition available where you can help deliver this vital message to the Governor of Florida, the Attorney General and 2 influential cabinet members. Here’s that link.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/453/783/026/felix-garcia-should-be-granted-a-full-pardon/

If you’d like to make a financial contribution to the court case, you can send a check or MO to

Reginald R. Garcia P.A.

PO Box 11069

Tallahassee, FL 32302

Write “For Felix Garcia” on the memo line.

This is a trust fund established to pay for incidental expenses necessary for the case. The attorney is working pro bono, and neither DeafInPrison.com, BitcoDavid BlogSites nor any of our contributors will receive any of the funds.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Related articles

A Brief Update on Felix

By Pat Bliss

I made a trip down to see Felix which was not planned in advance for a business meeting with an attorney on a Monday.  I drove down early so that I could visit with Felix on Saturday and Sunday. He looked good, always smiling, and glad to see me. We talked (he lip reads me) about a lot of different things, but what intrigued him was realizing all the advocacy going on in his behalf both on the ground and online, including how his case and story is presented in serialized form online. He finally understood the magnitude of the World Wide Web.

Felix and me 10/28/2012
Image Courtesy of Pat Bliss

Felix’s face lit up and could only express, “wow, I now understand what you mean.” I have been trying to relay this fact to him over TTY and in letters but sitting down talking about it became quite clear to him. Can you imagine what a new world will be open to him when free to explore the internet? This is something we all take for granted but for someone not experiencing the advance in technology for 31 years, it’ll be awesome.

Picture of Tomoka Correctinal Institution
http://www.dc.state.fl.us/facilities/region3/282.html

In addition to the petition on DeafInPrison.com, Felix’s case is in the hands right now, of an experienced clemency/lobbyist attorney in Tallahassee. Stay tuned! And, one last word. Felix wants to relay his appreciation to all who are helping in his freedom effort. Thank you and I appreciate you also.

Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.

Felix’s Story Serialized Pt. 1

By Pat Bliss

As many of you know, I have been publishing a series on arrest and subsequent trial of Felix Garcia on DeafInPrison.com. It has been available in standard HTML format on my pages, Bliss-1 and Bliss-2 – with future pages yet to be posted. However, our editor, BitcoDavid has recently devised a way that PDF media can be viewed on the site without having to click through. He is making many upgrades to this site, and among them will be the phasing out of these back pages. We have decided that this story belongs on the main scroll, and with his help, I’ve been able to post this first 15 page section of the series.

Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events. 

A Brief Update on Felix

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

I, among others, receive a lot of letters from the prison population that generally contain adverse circumstances and their need to tell someone on the outside what is really going on – on the inside. That is good. We need to know in order to alert those who can help.

But, there are still good things going on inside the prisons, even if it only involves one prisoner at a time. Let me give you an example of what I mean. As you know, I am serializing the criminal case of deaf inmate Felix Garcia.  In addition, you have seen the videos of an interview that Washington Correspondent, James Ridgeway and I had with Felix in 2011. Felix writes me weekly, and tells me his days’ activities and the bad stuff that goes on, but every once in awhile he writes about something good in his life. Here is one particular accomplishment, which I wish to share with you.

Here in his own words Felix wrote:

On a good note I went and made my speech. Because of my nervousness I stoped and prayed. When I opened my eyes all I saw was all my friends. Mr. H., J., S., V. and you right up front. God knows how to help me and in my prayers I said Lord you lead I’ll follow. I went in stomping said my testimony as I held the microphone and walked among the crowd touching some in silent prayer. At the end everyone was on there feet shouting, clapping, crying. As tears ran down my face all I could do was point up and give him the glory. I did not know how much it affected the people untill I went to the yard and many of them said “awsome,” “blessed,” “thank you,” wow! How can I tell them it was not me but God. It’s never us but through me he did a wonderful thing and I believe lives have been touched and will be changed.

Felix and Pat Bliss, Christmas 2011 Image courtesy Pat Bliss

I was certainly moved at Felix seeing this reality. For so many months now, since his story first came out end of December 2011 on MotherJones.com, it has touched peoples’ hearts and has generated a large group of advocates to help him attain his freedom. However, being locked up in prison one knows nothing of what is going on out in the world unless they see it on TV, receive outside information or are told. Well, I have told him – over and over – how his life story has impacted other deaf in prison and on the outside, and the hearing world as well. But when you yourself don’t believe it, it means nothing. Now that he believes it in his heart, his life has purpose and meaning for others. That is something that happened in a cold prison room, where oppression abounds. But the spirit of hope is still alive and that cannot be taken away from any prisoner, as shown by the responses Felix got from his fellow prisoners.

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss.
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/deaf-prisoners-felix-garcia

I mentioned this particular event in Felix’s life because it is a turning point. What happened to Felix should never have happened to anyone – being falsely blamed and imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Instead of getting bitter, he has chosen to look back and see the positive changes in his character as a gift from God, and has come to the conclusion that his life story is meant to heal others. What greater gift can one give to oneself than that?

[Editor's Note: Pat has informed me that attorneys are working on Felix's case, and should be ready take things to the next level very soon. In the meantime, DeafInPrison.com is working on getting signatures for a petition that will be sent to - among others - the Governor of Florida, seeking a full pardon for Felix.

Any help we can get will be greatly appreciated by both DeafInPrison.com and by Felix himself. Please sign our petition at:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/453/783/026/felix-garcia-should-be-granted-a-full-pardon/

Please, share this link on FaceBook or Tweet with hashtag #JusticeForFelix.

Thank you for all you do,

BitcoDavid]

Mini-post: Update #JusticeForFelix

161 Signers so far. Don’t drop the ball. Felix still needs you. Sign @ http://www.thepetitionsite.com/453/783/026/felix-garcia-should-be-granted-a-full-pardon/ Tweet #JusticeForFelix

A Letter From Felix Garcia to HEARD

Image courtesy Pat Bliss

This is a letter I received from HEARD. It is Felix’s most plaintive communication yet. We really need to help this innocent man gain his freedom.

Here’s the PDF link to his latest letter.

Felix – HEARD letter

As I work on these videos, I come to see Felix as an intelligent, compassionate, ethical and witty individual who would make a wonderful contribution to society. He deserves his chance.

After a Break; Felix Part Five

Here’s part 5 – the beginning of disc 2 – in the interview of Felix Garcia in prison, as conducted by Jim Ridgeway and Pat Bliss. Felix is much calmer in this section, and he talks frankly about communication issues, language barriers and lip-reading. He is – by the way – an excellent lip-reader, and he provides some marvelous insight into this difficult and complex method of communication.

Again, as before stated. This is the property of Jim Ridgeway, who owns the copyright. The captions and tech work were done by me, and our wonderful and talented interpreter – without whom none of this would be possible – chooses to remain uncredited. The video cannot be copied or downloaded, but by all means, please feel free to link back to it.

The Making of “Felix in His Own Words”

The idea to do an interview and a film started back in October 2010.  Conflicting schedules, Felix being moved within the system, postponed it until June of 2011. With Florida Department of Corrections giving us media approval, Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones Magazine, James Ridgeway, and I met at the Jacksonville, Florida airport where I picked him up. I had driven down. We drove to the town of Monticello where Jefferson Correctional Institution is located. DOC policy has it that inmate media interviews are only given one hour per month. We arranged it so that we could maximize our time by arranging to have the interviews on the last day of June and the first day of July.

Our appointment was at 9:00 A.M. June 30, 2011. Jim, armed with his video camera equipment (might add a very small camera) and myself with pad and pens, we were greeted warmly and escorted to the Assistant Warden’s office to do the interview. We saw Felix in the hallway as we went in and were seated at the Assistant Warden’s desk. Jim set up his equipment, Felix was brought in and sat across from us. The door was closed but we still could hear noise in the hallway and possibly they could hear us. I introduced Felix to Jim. There was excitement in the air even thought Felix had a look of confusion until I explained what we were going to do. I do not sign, he reads my lips very well as we have been together now for over 15 years in court and in prison visits.

 

This is a drawing done by Felix, showing his view of the courtroom during his trial. Image courtesy Pat Bliss. This image will be republished on Bliss-2 along with the most recent chapter in the ongoing series.

The tape began to roll. There was some unfinished business that had to come out. Felix was raped and almost successfully completed a suicide within that last six months. He had not had the opportunity (according to his letters) to express his emotions to any person. No counselors available for the Deaf. He was not around other Deaf that he could call a friend, just like in the hearing world it takes time to confide in another person. Also, it can spell disaster to the inmate when certain inmates know one has been raped and they become a target. So Felix kept quiet – until now. When he started talking, he first was hesitant but I encouraged Felix to tell it all and get it out. Hence, this is what you, the viewer, are witnessing when you start watching this video.

Awaiting Trial

Lying on an inch thick mattress, puss running out of his ears, migraine headaches, vomiting chronically and constantly passing out, would accurately describe Felix Garcia’s day-to-day existence at the old Morgan Street Jail in downtown Tampa, Florida. The woefully ill-equipped medical staff struggled to help a new inmate – coming to see them regularly – suffering from Cholesteatoma and Serous Otitis Media.

The former is a type of inner ear cyst, whose symptoms include brain abscess, deafness, dizziness, erosion into the facial nerve causing paralysis and meningitis. The latter is an acute infection and possible rupture of the tympanic membrane.

Image courtesy of http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002045/#adam_001050.disease.symptoms

Day in and day out for 2 straight years, this man – unable to communicate his misery – bided his time in the red brick building, clearly visible from I-275 as the interstate winds through the city. Morgan Street is the oldest of the Tampa jails. Since Felix’s time, two newer and more modern jails have been built in Hillsborough County – the Orient Road Jail and the Falkenburg Road Jail.

Life in jail is common and routine. Clanging alarms and loud horns awaken you at sunup. After a quick and early breakfast, you have an hour of recreation where you can walk around, watch TV, read, play cards, go to the law library on a pass or maybe play basketball. Lunch too, is ahead of time and brief. If you’re fortunate enough to have visitors – and they show up during specified times – you may be able to enjoy a few short moments of respite. Dinner comes too soon in the evening, and the day ends shortly afterwards. Then there’s talk! Jail is one of the noisiest places on Earth. Everything is iron, steel or loud and resonant concrete. There’s a constant din of banging and clanging – and the talk. It’s a steady drum-beating roar of Vox Humana.

Felix didn’t get many visits, Frank did. Inmates are allowed to make collect calls, but Felix couldn’t use a phone. Therefore, he would have a cellmate make his calls for him. Even if a TTY phone had been available to him, Felix had never seen one, and had no idea as to how to use them. If one did exist at Morgan Street, Felix didn’t know it.

After throwing up their hands in frustration, the medical staff opted to send Felix to Tampa General Hospital. The following table shows the severity of his condition.

Admitted Date

Admission Type

Discharge Date

10/19/81

Outpatient

10/19/81

10/26/81

Outpatient

10/26/81

11/19/81

Outpatient

11/19/81

11/25/81

Emergency

11/25/81

04/22/82

Outpatient

04/22/82

04/29/82

Outpatient

04/29/82

05/06/82

Outpatient

05/06/82

05/16/82

Inpatient

06/08/82

06/11/82

Outpatient

06/11/82

06/15/82

Outpatient

06/15/82

06/29/82

Outpatient

06/29/82

07/27/82

Outpatient

07/27/82

08/02/82

Outpatient

08/02/82

08/16/82

Outpatient

08/16/82

08/19/82

Outpatient

08/19/82

08/24/82

Outpatient

08/24/82

08/30/82

Outpatient

08/30/82

09/14/82

Outpatient

09/14/82

02/28/83

Inpatient

03/04/83

03/07/83

Inpatient

03/21/83

08/09/83

Outpatient

08/09/83

Felix spoke to me of being in a “fog,” not only during the trial, but also for years before he was arrested. He had a final operation, a couple of years into his prison sentence, which cleared up the fog, but the migraines, nausea and passing out still occur.

Waiting for Trial

For an updated version of this post, please go to

http://deafinprison.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/awaiting-trial-3/

 

A Radio for the Deaf

[It's a rare pleasure to get some good news from a Deaf prisoner, and this letter is one example. As I write Felix Garcia's story, I thought I would like to share this letter from him, with you - our readers.

Pat Bliss]

Image Courtesy Pat Bliss

4-12-11

Ms. Patricia Bliss

Hello Mom! :) Yesterday they called me to the property room and gave me my special radio and a letter from you. It was the day before yesterday that I called you on the phone. Wow Mom. The radio works great with this new hearing aid. Right now I have several Christian stations in preset. I have 88.9, 94.5, 91.5 and 89.7. And they’re great. I sing in Sign language. I can’t understand all the words but Mom this is great. I love it so much. It’s the hearing aids that made the difference. I can see now with a very strong set of hearing aids I can do almost anything. I let all the other Deaf try out the system using my new hearing aid and they were shocked on how strong this new hearing aid is. The radio does not work on any of their hearing aids except for one guy which shocked me also. I still have my old hearing aid and it works with that one but nothing like this new one. It still does not work with the T.V. and that’s because there is something wrong with the T.V. or the box but I get Christian stations and Christian songs. Yeah!!!!! :)

This morning I did a Bible study at 5 in the morning on 88.9 called Weapon of Praise, Psalm 9:1-3 and 2 chronicles 20:1-22. It was great. The Lord has truly blessed me this day. What other Christian music can I get? Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, :)

Oh, I like this song that’s on now. It’s called “When I’m Alone with You.” {Calling me away when I’m alone with you – your glory shines, when I’m running again – all I have is you – you break this heart of stone}.

Image courtesy Pat Bliss

God, Mom. It feels so good to hear Christian music again. I love God so much. It’s my way of singing to Him. I cry out in songs with Signing. He loves us Mom, God is good. He really watches out for us. I just want to be around Him so much. Music, music, music. :) I’m so happy. This morning I prayed – for Jesus to wrap me up in this music and hide me. I slept so good last night.

He will make all things new, as we wait, as we watch, come because he is calling you. Just now I looked at the guy and said wake up. God loves you, and tomorrow is not promised, don’t miss out on the truth. Don’t let it pass you by. You may not get another chance. From the beginning of time, God has reigned and there is no other. Don’t be fooled by a false God. You owe it to yourself. Jesus is the only way. Be a rising star on the winning team. Look around you at this horrible place. Now look out that window at God’s creation, a lizard, a butterfly, the trees and the sky. God is good – all the time.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mom

I love you :)

Your Son

[Letter transcribed by BitcoDavid]

The Addition of “Bliss -2″

Since this site was launched, I’ve been writing – on my page – about the tragic story of Felix Garcia. This innocent Deaf man has been behind bars for some 30 years now, for a crime he didn’t commit.

Due to the fact that I’m writing this story in chapters, and it’s becoming quite long, David has given me an extra page. You can find the newest additions to the story by looking in the right hand column, on the home page scroll, and clicking on “Bliss-2

The Interrogation August 11, 1981

This was taken from Pat Bliss’ ongoing serialization of the Felix Garcia story, as it appears on her page. It’s so good, I decided to put it on the scroll as well. Enjoy.
BitcoDavid
Photo courtesy of Mother Jones / Pat Bliss

The Interrogation August 11, 1981

When Felix arrived at SOC at approximately 12:40 a.m., August 11, 1981,  he was placed in a small room with Det. Kevin Fitzpatrick and Det. Luis and Det. Nelm for questioning. Felix described the room. In fact, he drew me a picture of it – a book shelve on one wall and a table in the middle, with himself sitting on one side. Officers sat across from him. I could picture him looking around to see what was next. He was charged with First Degree Murder and Armed Robbery. He told me he had no idea what murder meant as he had not heard the word before.

Det. Nelm stated in the police report Felix was read his Miranda Rights, also called a Consent to Interview Form. In the 1983 trial transcripts on this same subject, Det. Fitzpatrick testified:

Q. Did you read Mr. Garcia’s Constitutional Rights, sir?

A. Yes, sir, I did.

Q. Did it appear to you Mr. Garcia had any problems understanding what you were telling him, sir?

A. No, sir.

But did Felix really  understand his rights?  In an off the record comment by Det. Fitzpatrick:

Q. Was he asked if he understood his rights?

A. Yes, he was.

Q. Did he reply “Yes”?

A. He indicated that he understood his rights.

Det. Fitzpatrick said Felix “indicated” he understood. That comment was never cleared as to what Felix did to indicate – a nod of the head? So when I asked Felix on one of my legal visits to the county jail on August 15, 1998,  if his rights were read, my notes reflect his answer was “I didn’t know what they were until I  got to prison.” I said did you sign a confession? Felix replied no. Anything written down? He said no. That is true, no form was signed as verified by Det. Fitzpatrick:

Q. Did you have him sign the rights card?

A. No. I didn’t.

Q. Did you have him sign a Consent to Interview form?

A. Not that I recall.

Since the officers were satisfied Felix had his Rights read and understood what they were, they were ready to begin to question him. As Det. Fitzpatrick testified:

Q. But did you, in fact, at anytime find out if he wanted to talk to you? Did he say he would talk to you?

A. Based on past experience, having advised him of his rights, having had the defendant tell me that he understood his rights, until such time as he said he wanted an attorney, I felt free to ask him any questions I wanted to ask him.

The questioning began and in the police report it briefly states:

“Mr. Garcia’s only statement was that the ring he sold to the Tampa Gun and Pawn Shop was a ring he had bought on 22nd St. from an unknown person. Mr Garcia declined to discuss any information concerning the murder and requested an attorney at that point. Writer did not question Mr. Garcia any further.”

The trial transcript of Det. Fitzpatrick’s testimony went into a little more detail:

Q. What did you ask him, if you recall?

A. I asked him is he knew the victim. I asked him about any possible involvement that he might have in the case. I asked him about how he might have come in contact with the jewelry.

Q. And what was Felix Garcia’s response?

A. He stated that he got the jewelry on 22nd Street. He denied having any knowledge of the victim, denied having any involvement in the case…

At the beginning of my legal visits,  I had asked Felix to write out what he remembered when arrested and at the interrogation. These are his exact words and he numbered his comments:

1. Everyone was talking at once – could not understand. I told them to “one person has to speak at a time, I can’t understand.”

2. He [an officer] said something about 22nd street and I said “yes that’s what their saying.”

3. He asked me to speak to god that he was going to give me time. When he closed the door the light flashed and I knew something was there. I cleared  my throat a couple of times and the light flashed.

4. I didn’t know god back then but I prayed and told the truth about everything I knew.

[Author's note: I was a little stunned to see what Felix wrote concerning God. This is what he thought was asked of him in the interrogation. Misunderstanding words is so very common for the deaf. In other notes I see where he said “one officer would be nice and the other would be mean. That they kept saying ‘you do know’ and I would say ‘I don’t know’.” He said he didn’t ask for an attorney [didn’t know he needed one]. He did what all deaf typically do, though, be agreeable.  It was his custom to try to follow someone’s speech, to grasp a word here and there of what he thought he understood, watch facial expressions and then make some sense out of it. However,  it does appear from my notes that Felix’s memory about his interrogation was not reminiscent of the details by the officers.

What went on in the interrogation room will never be known.  Det. Fitzpatrick had testified nothing was written down nor was it taped. This hurts, because the interrogation of Felix Garcia was what others said  he said  - the officers, Ray, Tina  – and no external proof to show otherwise. Being deaf is not fair in the judicial system.]

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