Press Release Video From Sachs Media

By BitcoDavid

This video was created by Dave Heller, and sent to me by Porsche Haynes of Sachs Media Group, via Pat Bliss. It can also be seen on Vimeo.

Pat has shared with me, some of the monumental effort she put into this hearing – the travel, the personal financial expense, the sleeplessness and the endless meetings and interviews. She assures me that she will be submitting posts on the hearing, including Felix’s reactions to this devastating news.

She also told me that although we didn’t get what we wanted, we’re not complete losers in the outcome of this case. Felix’s next parole hearing will be in 3 years, which could have been 7. And he has received a 1 year reduction in the overall sentence. Frank on the other hand, whose hearing also took place on the same day, did not receive any of these benefits.

Here’s a link to coverage on Tampa Bay Times.

DeafInPrison.com will continue to work towards obtaining justice for this innocent Deaf man, and will continue reporting on this story, whenever we have information to share.

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.

Update on Felix’s Parole Hearing

By BitcoDavid

Attorneys Reginald Garcia, left, and Pat Bliss speak to the Florida Commission on Offender Review on behave of Felix Garcia on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. Garcia, a deaf Florida man who supporters say was framed for murder by his brother has a chance to get out of prison. Garcia is serving a life sentence for the murder of Joseph Tramontana Jr. during a 1981 Tampa robbery. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) Courtesy Mail Online.com

Attorneys Reginald Garcia, left, and Pat Bliss speak to the Florida Commission on Offender Review on behave of Felix Garcia on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. Garcia, a deaf Florida man who supporters say was framed for murder by his brother has a chance to get out of prison. Garcia is serving a life sentence for the murder of Joseph Tramontana Jr. during a 1981 Tampa robbery. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) Courtesy Mail Online.com

I am deeply saddened to report that Felix Garcia was denied parole. Attorney Reggie Garcia has provided the following for media dissemination:

1. the parole commissioners will review the case again in three years (it could have been 5 – 7)

2. They referred Felix to Sumter C.I. in Bushnell, Florida. for special programming. (This is a Deaf friendly facility.)

3. They reduced by 12 months his Presumptive parole release date.

Attorney Garcia called it is a small victory, and said he will continue to work tirelessly on Felix’s behalf.

Prosecuting attorney Mark Ober speaks to the Florida Commission on Offender Review concerning inmate Felix Garcia on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. Garcia, a deaf Florida man who supporters say was framed for murder by his brother has a chance to get out of prison. Garcia is serving a life sentence for the murder of Joseph Tramontana Jr. during a 1981 Tampa robbery. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

Prosecuting attorney Mark Ober speaks to the Florida Commission on Offender Review concerning inmate Felix Garcia on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. Garcia, a deaf Florida man who supporters say was framed for murder by his brother has a chance to get out of prison. Garcia is serving a life sentence for the murder of Joseph Tramontana Jr. during a 1981 Tampa robbery. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

From the Mail Online coverage:

“He is totally innocent,” lawyer Reggie Garcia, who isn’t related to the brothers, said. “Felix Garcia has an alibi before, during and after the murder.”

The board decided Wednesday to move up Garcia’s potential parole date by one year, to 2025. He will get another hearing in three years. They did not move up the date for brother Frank Garcia, serving a 99-year sentence with a potential 2026 release date. His case will be reheard in seven years.

The third brother, Mike Garcia, and sister Tina Daniels spoke only in the proceeding for Frank Garcia.

“You know your family members — when they’re telling the truth and when they’re not telling you the truth,” Mike Garcia said. “People can bull crap, I understand that. People are con artists, I understand that. I know my brother Frank. I know my brother Felix. I know Francisco Garcia did not pull that trigger.”

A commission member asked if that meant Felix participated. “Yes. Yes, they were both there at that time,” Mike Garcia answered.

After the hearing, he told reporters that he believed Felix is the person who killed Joseph Tramontana Jr.

“That’s what I’ve heard over the years. I wasn’t there,” he said. “I know my brothers, and that’s it. “

It’s a vastly different story than lawyers presented. They said Felix Garcia had two witnesses placing him six miles away from the motel where the murder happened. Frank Garcia; his sister, Tina; and her boyfriend, Ray Stanley participated in the crime and framed Felix, the lawyers said. They say Frank Garcia gave Felix the victim’s ring to sell, and the pawn shop slip tied him to the crime.

Neither the sister nor Stanley was charged, and Stanley has since died.

Frank Garcia later admitted Felix wasn’t involved in the murder, the lawyers also said.

But prosecutor Mark Ober said the affidavit Frank Garcia signed on behalf of Felix was part of a plot to get his brother out so he could sue the state and then help seek Frank’s release.

After the hearing, Pat Bliss — who has fought 18-years on Felix’ behalf — approached Garcia’s siblings and said she was shocked they didn’t speak for Felix, too. “He never asked us,” Daniels said.

“He feels like he’s been deserted by his family,” Bliss said.

Attorneys Pat Bliss, right, and Reginald Gracia speak to the Florida Commission on Offender Review on behave of Felix Garcia on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. Garcia, a deaf Florida man who supporters say was framed for murder by his brother has a chance to get out of prison. Garcia is serving a life sentence for the murder of Joseph Tramontana Jr. during a 1981 Tampa robbery. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

Attorneys Pat Bliss, right, and Reginald Gracia speak to the Florida Commission on Offender Review on behave of Felix Garcia on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. Garcia, a deaf Florida man who supporters say was framed for murder by his brother has a chance to get out of prison. Garcia is serving a life sentence for the murder of Joseph Tramontana Jr. during a 1981 Tampa robbery. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

I find it immensely disturbing that the only coverage this story is getting is from a British news source. From what I can gather – and I could be wrong – no American papers have covered this story. I also am somewhat discouraged that I had to track down this information, and that very little of it was provided for me, by my own sources, close to the story. I do however, want to thank Porsche Haynes of Sachs Media Group for providing me with what little information she was given.

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.

Happy Birthday, Felix Garcia

By BitcoDavid

Pat Bliss has informed me that Felix has a birthday coming up, on October 1st, 1 week from tomorrow. In her e-mail, she also stated that the chances for another clemency hearing are not looking good, and the legal team has pinned its hopes on a parole hearing in January.

I would like very much to see Felix get some joy out of his upcoming birthday. Pat sent me an address to which we can send birthday cards.

Felix Garcia #482246/D2
Tomoka Correctional Inst.
3950 Tiger Bay Rd.
Daytona Beach, FL 33124

I think it would be truly amazing for Felix, if he were to receive a virtual truckload of birthday cards. Further, I think it would send a loud statement to both Florida DOC, and Florida DOJ, that Felix has garnered a large, national – perhaps even international – support system.

You have 1 week. Send a card. Share this on FaceBook and Twitter. Urge your friends and family to send cards. Let’s flood Felix’s cell with cards from around the world. Let’s show Felix and Florida how much we care.

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.

Open Letter to Florida Clemency Board

By Joanne Greenberg

Dear Clemency Board,

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss. From Mother Jones Magazine.

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss.
From Mother Jones Magazine.

I have been interested in the Felix Garcia case, for the last few years, and I have seen all of the material from that case, including the 2 hours of video interview on DeafInPrison.com. I know that he has exhausted his legal opportunities, but because there is a strong probability that Felix is not guilty of the crime for which he is charged, I am afraid that when he comes up for parole, he will not state that he is remorseful. And this will deny him parole.

Most recent photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.  Image credit Pat Bliss

Most recent photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.
Image credit Pat Bliss

However, nothing stands in the way of Felix’s being freed as an act of clemency. He’s already served a monumental sentence, but he has been able to create a life for himself, that will be useful and positive – on the outside. He will be able to do good things for himself and for the community in general; and especially for the Deaf community, which needs what Felix has to offer.

If we have any faith in rehabilitation, we certainly see rehabilitation in Felix’s case.

Joanne Greenberg was born in 1932, in Brooklyn, NY. She was educated at American University and received and honorary Doctorate from Gallaudet University – the world’s only college for the Deaf. She has written 2 books on the subject and has spent decades working with state mental hospitals for appropriate care for the mentally ill Deaf.

Petition In Brown Truck and Heading South

By BitcoDavid

English: Mabel Capper and Suffragettes with a ...

Mabel Capper and Suffragettes with a petition 1911 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is not without a certain amount of sadness, that I report to you that we have closed down the petition, printed up all 35 pages of it, and sent a copy to each of the four members of the Clemency Board. I’m actually quite happy about this, and about Felix’s extra shot at freedom, but I have nursed this petition along for almost 3 years, now. I’ve checked it once a day, intervened when it went dark, or got mistakenly closed. I’ve posted about it, maybe 100 times on here, and at least that many, on the other social networks. I’ve e-mailed about it, telephoned about it, and snail mailed about it. In short, I feel like a parent whose child is gone off to college. Sniff! [Tear] My son, the petition! Sniff!

Pat Bliss has informed me that if you are writing letters to the Clemency Board, she asks that you do not refer specifically to December, but rather just make the case for clemency. Apparently, it is viewed as an arrogance, for us to cite the date. This is of course, political and legal mumbo-jumbo, but we have to play the game as visitors, and Florida is the home team.

Here’s a copy of the petition as it appears in hard-copy form. This and my personal letter is exactly what the Board will receive on Wednesday of next week.

Here’s a copy of my enclosed letter.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who signed, and all of you who have supported Felix – and us – during this long uphill slog. It is my sincerest hope that all this work does not go unrewarded.

I would also like to thank Care2 for all their hard work and cooperation on this project. We couldn’t have completed this petition without them, and on numerous occasions, their technical support staff. Wonderful job guys, thanks for all you do.

Well, that’s about it. Remember, we’re not done yet. Keep writing those letters. And don’t forget to leave December out of it, and please keep the language family friendly. We don’t want to rub these people the wrong way.

But, Pam Bondi, if you’re reading this – and I suspect you are – please, free Felix. You know it’s the right thing to do.

#JusticeForFelix, #FreeFelix.

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.

Some Great News

By BitcoDavid

Pat Bliss has informed me that the option for clemency for Felix Garcia is not dead, after all. She states that the possibility exists for a new clemency hearing, in December. What’s more, she tells me that there’s been a renewed interest in the case, amongst members of Florida’s justice system.  She has asked me to reach out one more time, to our readers, asking for your support. The pro bono attorney handling the case, Reginald Garcia has asked that we mail in our petition on Monday. He wants it sent to all 4 members of the Clemency Board.

I am glad to do so, and will be sending them via registered mail to each of the 4 members. I will be accompanying that packet with a letter of my own, imploring them to reexamine the case, and grant Felix the clemency he deserves.

Here’s where you can help. We are still 120 signatures shy of our goal of 1000. I will be sending the petition out regardless on Monday, the 14th. But I honestly believe that with one last push, we can reach our goal before then. Please, go sign our petition. While I’m sure the Board will be impressed with 880 signatures, 1000 would mean so much more.

If you feel like going that extra mile, for Felix, Ms. Bliss has also requested that as many of you as are able, write and send your own letters to the Board. Unfortunately, in cases such as this, e-mail and other electronic methods of communication hold little weight. These letters must be sent via U.S. Mail, in hard copy. They need something they can wave around in their hands, while pleading his case. I realize that to most of us, nowadays, those men in the little blue shorts who drive around in those funny little Jeeps, are somewhat of an enigma, but unfortunately nothing else will work.

As Dickens pointed out, the law is an ass. Furthermore, nobody ever accused the Government – state or Federal – of being overly hip. So, it’s U.S. mail or nothing.

Here are the addresses you can send your letters to:

 

Office of Governor Rick Scott

Thomas Winokur, Clemency Aide

400 S. Monroe St.

Rm 209, The Capitol

Tallahassee, FL 32399

Office of Attorney General Pam Bondi

Gwen Thomas, Clemency Assistant

366 M. Collins Bldg.

Tallahassee, FL 32301

Office of Chief Financial Officer

Jeff Atwater

Robert Tornillo, Clemency Aide

LL26, The Capitol

Tallahassee, FL 32301

Office of Commission of Agriculture

Adam Putnam

Reagan Russell, Clemency Aide

407 Calhoun St., Suite 520

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0810 

Pat also sent me a draft you can use:

Dear Governor Scott and Florida Clemency Cabinet.
Felix is innocent;  he was framed by his siblings and they have recanted; he has a 7 hour alibi; has served 33 years in prison; paralegal Pat Bliss has been on his case 17+ years and is his “mom”  where he will go home to in Virginia.

Personally, I would prefer it if you used your own words, but please – remember that we’re writing to plead with these people. Try to avoid pejoratives and off color language. Keep in mind, you catch more flies with honey.

You will need to send all 4 members – listed above – copies of your letters. I realize this is an inconvenience, not to mention a small personal expense. We thank you in advance for your efforts, and Felix – who’s made far greater sacrifices – will thank you as well.

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.

Why Isn’t Felix Free by Now?

By Pat Bliss

Felix could say he cried out for help to anyone who would listen. Ever since he found out – after arriving in prison and  having the trial transcripts read to him by his cell mate – that his sister testified against him. All the time thinking, during the trial she was helping him, because he could not discern the words spoken by the witnesses, while testifying. Felix relied on his attorney, when he would ask him, “What are they saying?”  “Everything will be OK,” the lawyer would say. He also saw his brother Frank come into the courtroom, and was told he pled the fifth and that is why he didn’t testify – nor help him go home. Felix did not know what Frank had said in his own trial a year earlier.

Felix could say that he relied on a prison law clerk’s advice when he got Frank’s first affidavit in 1989. It stated that Frank killed the victim, that Tina and Ray participated in the crime and that he, Felix, was completely innocent. The law clerk misfiled that document and it was sent back to Felix. Felix thought the regular letter from the Judge was a denial and he put the affidavit in a box, only to be remembered again in 1997 when I took his case. Felix could only read at an elementary level at that time.

You could say his legal team made a wrong decision in 1999 by withdrawing the second affidavit from Frank. In all honesty the team were under the impression the deaf issue (6th Amendment violation) was valid, as it was allowed to proceed to the Evidentiary Hearing. They did not know the Judge, and the State, already knew it was going to be stricken. Due to a turn of events, it was not the right time to present the new evidence. Time proved that.  But alas, this court action was denied.

You could say that it took too long for the inmates – to whom Frank confessed that he put his innocent younger brother in prison, so he could avoid the death penalty – to send in their affidavits. Eventually many of them were transferred to where Felix was. Most had never met Felix before. A couple of the inmates had – over the years – been in the same prison with Felix, but they never knew each other. When they met Felix, and remembered what Frank had told them, they felt obligated to write affidavits of what they heard. These came to me between 2002-2004.

You could say that at the 2006 Evidentiary Hearing, where Frank confessed to Felix’s innocence, and how Felix got tangled into the crime by Frank making him sign a pawn ticket, that the Court got it wrong, by not believing Frank’s confession. The Court did not say it didn’t believe the confession. The Order stated it did not believe Frank,  because Frank had lied at his own trial in 1982. He lied to his attorney, to the jury, and to the Judge – making him not credible in the eyes of the Court. Frank’s whole testimony was tossed out. And the appeal was unsuccessful, without an opinion. It closed the door for any more appellate procedures on the case both in state and federal court.

But I  suggest that the Courts, nor the State want to concede they have convicted an innocent man. This is not a DNA case. If it was, it would be over by now. The jury got it wrong. There was no consideration for the time factors and defense witnesses. The Judge got it wrong. Felix’s trial attorney could have done better, but he did what he could to alert the court of his client’s limited ability to help in his own defense. And he asked not to proceed to trial. The Judge knew Felix had a hearing problem, he could have ordered a sign interpreter. This case though, was unique in 1983.  Now we are in 2014.  The Governor has the authority to right that wrong – if he wants to and so far he doesn’t. And Felix’s sister, Tina – in May of this year – had her chance to right the wrong, and help her younger brother, Felix. She chose not to. We can’t blame her, really. There is no statute of limitations on a murder case, and she has enjoyed her freedom these 32+ years.

In a nutshell, this is why Felix is still in prison. Publicity helps draw attention, which can be invaluable, but it cannot get anyone out of prison. There are only three ways that can happen 1) the case goes back to court on some issue that is viable or 2) the Governor and Clemency Cabinet grants clemency or 3) the Parole Board grants parole.  Our next proceeding is the Parole Board hearing, possibly in January of 2015. The efforts of the legal team are in full force to make this third avenue a reality –  your support inspires us.  Thank you.

–Pat Bliss

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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