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.

My 1st incounter with l.a.’z finest

By Moorbey

[ Editor's Note: Moorbey'z Blog has been an asset and a help to DeafInPrison.com. He has graciously offered to provide us with this Supporter Contribution post. I have left it in his own unique writing style, and have added only some images. I see his writing style as the literary equivalent of what graffiti is to visual art. If graffiti is how the people paint, then - love it or hate it - this may be how they write. Nonetheless, this is a powerful and tragic story, and it deserves your attention. --BitcoDavid]

It waz summertime we had just moved in a brand new house in a upper middle class white neighborhood. Momz sent me age 10 to the store and my 2 brotherz age 9 and the baby of the boyz age 7, came along so we could play some space invaderz at the 7-11 which just happened to be 2 1/2 blockz away from home.

We purchase the itemz that momz wanted and we played space invaders 4 about and hour and we started walking back to the house. We get 1 1/2 block from the house and we see a black & white cruise by uz and all of a sudden they whip a U-turn and cut uz off. Now we have grocery bag in hand and we are just walkin and talkin. The 1st officer sayz what are u doing in this neighborhood. My baby brutha sayz we are coming from 7-11.
Cop #2 sayz niggerz can’t afford to live in this area, so we must have ran away from tha Boy’z home that iz 3 milez away. So I sayz  take uz around tha corner and speak with our mom. Cop #1 sayz that iz not our job and out of the clear blue he slapz tha baby.

Now we have been taught a fair fight iz a fair fight, do not ever let an adult put handz on u unless they are family or a friend of tha family. So it waz on. We did our best to break this cop off but now we are just some happy kidz digging life until this life changing experience. Cop #2 makez a call on tha radio officer in distress call an within minutez 3 other unitz appear. They handcuff uz and start to beat on uz like we are grown men.

Now at this point we have been gone 4 about 3 hourz,and popz comez home from the golf course and momz sayz go find tha boyz they been gone to long.
He goes to 7-11 and they tell him we have been gone 4 hourz and pullz over to talk to copz and noticez we are bloodied, bruised and in the back seat of separate squad carz on the way to tha infamous Rampart Division Station. Popz goes to get momz to head down to tha station, they take a good look at uz and popz loses it and he iz arrested. Momz had to bail him out. I had never seen my momz cry till that day. Chargez were dropped against everyone except me. I had 3 felony chargez of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest at 10 yearz old.
***
You can see more of Moorbey’s work at Moorbey’z Blog.
–If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.”Let’s be realistic, let’s do the impossible” Ernesto “Che” Guevara

There But For the Grace of God…

By BitcoDavid

Picture this. You’re on your way somewhere, when a police cruiser comes speeding up from behind you, and lunges up onto the sidewalk, cutting you off. Just as you stop in your tracks, another cruiser does the same maneuver, behind you. A third, boxes you in by stopping curbside, on your left. In unison, the cops jump out of their cruisers, guns drawn, and yelling. “Freeze! Get on the ground! Face Down!”

Website delivered a "404." Unable to cite photo credit.

Website delivered a “404.” Unable to cite photo credit.

You’re standing there, completely stunned and unable to move – unable, even to make sense of their commands. “I said get down! Get down on the ground NOW!” You hear one say, “if you don’t lie down you scumbag, I’ll blow you in half!”

“What’s going on, Officers? What did I do?”

“Shut up! Shut up and lie down or we’ll shoot!”

You lie down. Face down on the frigid sidewalk – you lie down.

“What did I do?” You feel one large man sit on top of you, his knee digging into your back. Your arms are violently pulled behind you, and with crystal clarity, you hear the ratcheting click of the cuffs as they lock into place.

Nobody has told you anything. Nobody has even asked your name. Someone or some thing is droning out your Miranda rights. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to…”

“… Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?”

“I didn’t do anything. I don’t want a lawyer. I don’t want to remain silent. I didn’t do anything.”

“Just answer yes or no. Do you understand your rights?”

Defeated even before the bell, you nod your assent, accompanied with a croaked out, “yes.”

Now you’re in the back of a police cruiser. The only clear memory you have is how much it hurt when they picked you up from the ground, by pulling at your cuffed arms. A searing scorch shot through your shoulders and upper back. You thought they were pulling your arms out from the sockets.

“Can you at least tell me what I did?” You ask, as the cruiser rolls on for what seems like hours.

“Please sit back and be quiet, sir. You’ll get all that information.” You hear him lean over and say to his partner, “God, I hate the talkie ones.”

News coverage showing the number of arrests in one day in one county in Florida.http://baycountypress.com/2013/01/29/arrest-logs-and-mug-shots-for-bay-county-florida-jan-28-29-2013/

News coverage showing 40 arrests in one day in one county in Florida, 12 of which were drug related.
http://baycountypress.com/2013/01/29/arrest-logs-and-mug-shots-for-bay-county-florida-jan-28-29-2013/

A few more jokes, and good-natured conversation between them – as though you didn’t exist at all – and you’re at your first booking destination. You’re walked past rows of desks and computers, and finally placed in a cell. “Turn around,” somebody barks, and through a small slot in the barred door, your cuffs are finally removed. You feel like you just got off the Rack. Your only thought is how grateful you are to have those cuffs off.

Scared yet? If you’re a young Black male, in an urban environment, you stand a 1 in 4 chance of this happening to you.

You’re alone. You’re alone and although this nightmare has only just begun, you’re already broken. You’d say or do anything, if you thought it would help end this.

One of the cops – you recognize him. He more or less took the point on your arrest – keeps coming back to your cell and asking you pointless questions. “How old are you?” “What kind of car do you own?” “Do you live alone?” Finally, at one of his stops, you ask him, “Hey, can I go to the bathroom?”

“Gimme a few minutes, and we’ll get someone to take care of that for you.”

You wait for what seems like another hour. Finally, someone comes and tells you to turn around for cuffing. “I have to go to the bathroom,” you say as he clicks the cuffs home, and unlocks the cell door. “Yeah, yeah. We’ll get you there. Just be patient and don’t make any trouble.”

He brings you to a desk, where he removes one of the cuffs and locks it to an eyelet. You’re chained to this desk. After about 10 minutes, another officer shows up. Moving like a glacier, he takes a form out of a drawer and inserts it into a 1960s vintage, whirring and clanking, typewriter. “Name.” It’s not a question. It’s a monosyllabic utterance, drenched in boredom. You give him your name.

After you’ve given this man your address, your phone number, your identifiable marks and tattoos and the name of the first girl you ever got to 2nd with, you tell him that the other officer promised, you could go to the bathroom. He looks askance at you – his face, silently calling you a pain in the ass – and gestures to another officer. This one takes the cuff out of the eyelet, and walks you down the hall to a large lavatory. He leaves the one cuff on your wrist, but lets you go in, alone.

It’s been a good 4 hours since you were arrested.

After you’re done in the bathroom, you’re brought back to the cell. Still, no one has told you what you’re being charged with, or given you any pertinent information. To them, this is all business as usual, but to you, it’s the scariest day of your life. A simple nugget of friendly information might go a long way toward assuaging that fear.

More time passes. Eventually, someone comes, cuffs you up again and puts you in a van. You’re on your way to your second booking destination.

Entrance and egress is provided through back doors and special causeways, so you don’t even know the addresses of the places their pin-balling you in and out of. Now you’re in a much larger facility – a holding pen of some sort. Other people are in there with you. You’re actually more scared of them than you are of the cops, so you just sit quietly in your little corner and wait. They are all doing the same.

It’s now been 8 full hours since you were arrested. You’re tired, hungry, lonely, cold and afraid. Your Wallet, cellphone, car keys, watch and other personal effects were all taken from you. Your belt and shoes were taken from you. You’ve been given some foam rubber slippers, and other than pants, shirt and underwear, you have nothing. A cop comes to the door of the pen and barks out your name. You stand up, and he tells you, “You’ve been ID-ed. You’re moving into interrogation.”

Here’s where you get your proverbial one phone call. He takes you – cuffed – into a room with a large number of pay phones. He removes one of the cuffs and clicks it into another eyelet, this one anchored to the phone stall. He hands you a coin, sufficient for a 3-minute local call. Not knowing any alternative that makes sense, you call your BFF. In response to her natural question, you yell to the four winds, “Hey, where am I?” “_______________ County detention facility. _____________ ____________ Street,” someone replies from the ether. After you hang up, you wait for someone to come and unchain you from the phone.

You’re stripped, cavity searched, and issued an orange jumpsuit. You’re put in a small, ill-lit, windowless room with a large mirror on one wall. Other than 2 chairs and the table you are chained to, there is nothing in the room. You wait.

You wait.

Finally, a team of interrogators comes into the room.

It seems, the more they talk – the more trouble you’re in. They deluge you with questions, show you mountains of unrecognizable photographs, badger you and accuse you. They tag team you with the good cop/bad cop routine. They threaten you with unfathomable torments, and try to convince you that confession is your only hope. They lie to you. They use your own body’s physical needs, such as food and sleep, as weapons against you. They eat in front of you, and drink coffee. They blow cigarette smoke in your face. It may be 12, 13 even 14 hours since you’ve had anything to eat. Sign this, and we’ll go get you a sandwich.

You don’t sign. Not because you’re some sort of staunch individualist who knows that his own innocence will eventually win out, but because you don’t have a clue what the hell they’re talking about. On the way back to your newest cell, they – jokingly – threaten to throw you down a flight of concrete stairs.

It’s Friday night. The earliest you can be arraigned is Monday afternoon.

The arraignment isn’t your day in court, your chance to stand up and speak on your behalf – while a deeply committed, and brilliant country lawyer snaps his suspenders, and challenges a jury. It’s 15 minutes of people using a foreign language to speak about you in 3rd party dissociation.

At the end, bail is set. 250,000 dollars. Of course, you only have to pay 10% of that. Do you have 25 grand? No. So back to jail you go. You’re awaiting trial. Six months – maybe a year. You’re in jail, you haven’t been tried, and you’re innocent of crime.

If you’re a young Black male living in a major city,  the likelihood of your serving time at some point in your life is 28% . If you’re a young male of any ethnicity and poor, you are 150 times more likely to be arrested than if you’re wealthy.

Next time you post to an Internet site, about how prisoners wouldn’t be there if they didn’t do something to deserve it, I hope you think about my little story, here.

Now, as horrific and Kafkaesque as this story reads, try – just try – to imagine what it would be like, if you were Deaf.

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.

 

Wrongfully Accused; Wrongly Judged; Wrongfully Imprisoned

By Jean F. Andrews

The media has increasing spotlighted suspects who have been wrongfully accused by the police, wrongfully judged by the prosecutor and judge and wrongfully imprisoned for decades. Tony Freemantle in Sunday’s Houston’s Chronicle (Jan 20, 2013) lists a number of reasons for false convictions: 1) prosecutors hide evidence, 2) judges refuse to accept credible witnesses who say the suspect was elsewhere during the crime in question; 3) no DNA evidence is collected or its tampered with and 4) misleading forensic evidence points to the wrong person and 5) inadequate legal representation for the suspect and 6) confessions are ignored from real offender

For deaf suspects, I add — 7) false confessions are taken from a tired, scared and overly compliant suspect and 8) a sign language interpreter is not provided during all the police interrogations. This happened to Stephen Brodie, a deaf man from Dallas, Texas who served 20 years in a Dallas prison for a crime he did not commit. Falsely accused of raping a five year old girl, Brodie reported he was forced to confess to this crime during interrogations with the police officers, of which only during half of interrogations did he have a sign language interpreter. It was reported that Brodie case did not involve DNA, but it was the Texas county’s first exoneration involving a false confession

See journalist Tony Freemantle’s vivid and gripping story, Exonerees: The numbers are small, but the toll is immense—and growing (Sunday, Jan 20, 2013, Houston Chronicle).

[Editor's Note: I did all I could do to find a link to this actual article, but the Houston Chronicle apparently chose not to make it available online. The link below is to the photo-essay, which they did make availble.

--BitcoDavid]

In this special section in the Houston Chronicle, photographer, Billy Smith II provides photographs of the 20 exonerees who were convicted of crimes they did not commit and served time in prison. Some were compensated, some were not, some died in prison. See chron.com/exonerees for more video and photos.
See also (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20017910-504083.html) about Stephen Brodie’s case in Dallas, Texas.

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

Help End the Felony Murder Rule

By BitcoDavid

A Follower on FaceBook brought this petition to our attention.

http://www.causes.com/actions/1696694

They bring up the following points:

The felony murder rule operates as a matter of law upon proof of the intent to commit a felony to relieve the prosecution of its burden of proving intent to kill, which is a necessary element of murder.

The intention to commit a felony does not equal the intention to kill, nor is the intention to commit a felony, by itself, sufficient to establish a charge of murder.

The felony murder rule erodes the relation between criminal liability and moral culpability in that it punishes all homicides in the commission, or attempted commission, of the proscribed felonies, whether intentional, unintentional, or accidental, without proving the relation between the homicide and the perpetrator’s state of mind.

Under the felony murder rule, the defendant’s state of mind is irrelevant. Because intent is a characterization of a particular state of mind with respect to a killing, felony murder bears little resemblance to the offense of murder except in name. First-degree murder is an arbitrary assignment.

Holding one or many criminally liable for the bad results of an act which differs greatly from the intended results is based on a concept of culpability which is totally at odds with the general principles of jurisprudence.

It is fundamentally unfair and in violation of basic principles of individual criminal culpability to hold one felon liable for the unforeseen and un-agreed to results of another felon’s action.

The basic rule of culpability is further violated when felony murder is categorized as first-degree murder because all other first-degree murders (carrying equal punishment) require a showing of premeditation, deliberation and willfulness, while felony murder only requires a showing of intent to do the underlying felony.

The purpose of creating degrees of murder is to punish with increased severity the more culpable forms of murder, but an accidental killing during the commission or attempted commission of a felony is punished more severely than a second-degree murder.

While the felony murder rule survives in Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, California and other states, the numerous modifications and restrictions of it by some states’ courts and legislatures throughout the United States reflect dissatisfaction with the basic harshness and injustice of the doctrine and call into question its continued existence.

The felony murder rule can be used by prosecutors in a manner so as to cause grossly disproportionate sentencing, depending on the circumstances of each individual case.

The felony murder rule is probably unconstitutional because presumption of innocence is thrown to the winds. The prosecution needs only to prove intent to commit the underlying felony; that
done, first degree-murder becomes part and parcel of the underlying felony because intent to commit murder does not have to be proved.

The felony murder rule is probably unconstitutional because in some cases it violates the Eighth Amendment: cruel and unusual punishment, grossly disproportionate to the crime(s) actually
committed.

The felony murder rule holds unequally involved parties equally accountable and punishable. Again, cruel and unusual punishment if you’re only the lookout for a robber who happens to kill in the process of the robbery.

they deserved it

they deserved it (Photo credit: Will Lion)

The felony murder rule violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process because no defense is allowed on the charge of first-degree murder, only the underlying felony.

The felony murder rule bears no rational relationship or equity in its two penalties, with the penalties of other murder laws, including, at times, the charge of first-degree murder.

It is no longer acceptable to equate the intent to commit a felony with the intent to kill.

Believe it or not, the American Justice System was created to keep people out of prison. The concept of innocent until proven guilty, The right to protection against self incrimination, and The 8th Amendment – all speak to the American concept of fair play, the dread of incarceration and our aversion to cruel and unusual punishment.

What could possibly be crueler than to Imprison a teenager for life – for merely being present at the scene of a crime. Maybe he was driving the car. Maybe he was the lookout. Should he be punished? Yes, of course. But can we, in good conscience, allow one stupid moment – one adolescent lapse of judgement – to cost him his entire life?

Please consider signing this petition at: http://www.causes.com/actions/1696694

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.

 

Stunning PowerPoint by Solitary Watch – Solitary 101

By BitcoDavid

PowerPoint presentation by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway of Solitary Watch.

This is a truly massive work, and well worth taking a few minutes to watch in its entirety. Well written, informative and beautifully enhanced with photos and graphics, this presentation is a must see.

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.

 

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. 

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