Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Part ~ 22 Lies And More Lies

We were on the road early the next morning, heading to Bristol Virginia. The reporter had asked us to take her and the photographer to a car rental place. She had a few leads and wanted to go out on her own for a bit. She was going to meet back up with us later. So we were on our own.

We decided to go to the Bristol Police Station first. There we talked with the 'Officer in Charge'. He was very kind, as were all the people we had come in contact with on our fact finding trip. Quite a pleasant change from what we were exposed to here in Michigan. He told us that the one young man was there in Bristol's jail and the other was in Kentucky. We didn't ask to speak with him so I don't know if we would've been able too or not. But I have been asked why we didn't. I can only speak for myself. I didn't want to be that close to either of the young men. They truly frightened me. After we spoke for a short time, the officer showed us how to get to the District Attorney's Office. Which wasn't too hard to find being it was the tallest building in Bristol, all  7 - 9 stories of it.

I remember Bristol being very pretty and their trees were flowering already. It as nice being somewhere where no one knew who we were. Or was judging us.

We were seen right away. I think the officer must have called a head to let the District Attorney know we were coming. He didn't seem surprised. At first he did seem a little put off, not really knowing what out intentions were. Then one of the other mothers spoke up and got the ball rolling. She explained briefly who we were, why we were there, and what we hope to accomplish.

He seemed to lighten up a bit then. We asked him about the atlas with the map. We told him the Prosecutor had said repeatedly in court and in the media, how uncooperative Virginia and Kentucky authorities had been about sending the map or any evidence. That they were not cooperating with Michigan at all. That the prosecutor had been quoted in the media as saying  he had tried to get a copy of the map. But was getting 'Nowhere with Virginia.'

The District Attorney was visibly getting annoyed by that. He told us that they had cooperated with everything Michigan had asked for though it wasn't much.. He then said he himself had sent a copy of the map to Michigan. It was in two parts, the second part he sent right after the first. And that there was a mark on our town indicating that the two had traveled back here.

The Prosecutor here had said they had been asking and asking for the map.From the very first time that they had found out about the two men in Kentucky. But had gotten nothing from Virginia or Kentucky. That 'his' people who he had sent down there had seen the map and it had given no indication of the two ever returning to Michigan.

More lies. How he slept at night I can only wonder.

We then asked if Michigan ever sent some blood samples of our sons or the slain young man's from Michigan? That we were told they were supposedly trying to cross match our sons blood with the blood on the bloody backpack that was found in the car of the two arrested in Kentucky. He said he had not been aware of any samples being sent or any requests.

Six weeks earlier the prosecutor had issued a warrant for blood samples to be taken from our sons. They were supposedly checking for for our sons DNA on the bloody backpack and clothes they had in Kentucky. The prosecutor had said  this in court and in the papers. Yet Again he was just simply telling more lies.

The District Attorney said there had been DNA of the Gun store clerk on the knife found in the backpack and the blood stains. There was also two other blood types that were not his.

Why if  Michigan Authorities actually thought our sons DNA would be there, did they not send the samples? Was it because the prosecutor just going through the motions again? Was he planning on lieing and saying their blood was found when actually it wasn't?  Like the Police Chief  in New Baltimore had done when he said the ballistics had been done on all the guns found down south, and that the results came back negative... but in fact weeks later the "Real" ballistics were done and the results came in which proved these two had in fact had the murder weapon? Lies and more lies.

We had been waiting for the blood test results for over six weeks. And here we come to find out that they had never even been sent. To this day we have never found out what happened to the blood that was taken. My son would like his blood back.

We then asked him if  Michigan had run the any finger prints of the two in Kentucky. He said none to his knowledge and no request were made. Three sets of prints had been found in the walk in cooler where they had killed the young man here. One was the poor young mans. The other two sets were not our sons.

The New Baltimore Police Chief was again quoted in the papers as saying.."It didn't matter if they found the prints of the two in Kentucky in the cooler, because they had worked there."  Really? I mean Really? How ridiculous! They had not supposedly worked there since 1999. The murder was in 2000. Was he saying that the Pizzeria was that filthy? That their prints would still be there after a year? If their prints were found in the cooler then it could only mean they had been there.

The one New Baltimore Police officer who was in charge of the case off and on. Was also quoted in the paper saying.."We're not sure who's prints they are. But they could be from the emergency  personal  who took care of the shot young man." Really? I ask again, Really?? Does our police dept really think that we're that stupid? Or are they? In this day and age would emergency personal go into a bloody crime scene and not wear gloves to protect themselves from AIDs or Hep C? I've seen them wearing protective goggles too. Not to mention if the emergency personal's prints were found at the crime scene would that not imply that the crime scene was then contaminated? And if the police really felt that the prints could be theirs wouldn't they want to finger print the emergency personal to either confirm or eliminate them?

Just more lies and polluted bantering to try and cover their bungling handling of this case.

Part ~ 21 The More I Learned The More The Shivers Ran Down My Spine

Next we decided to go to the motel where the two were arrested. We went in with the reporter and photographer. The reporter had let us do most of the talking and the photographer took a few pictures here and there. We kept our own notes and took pictures too.

We talked to the woman at the desk. As it turned out it was the very woman the they had robbed. We told her who we were and why we were there. She seemed a bit surprised. She was an older woman, very kind and willing to speak with us. So we sat in the lobby and talked, we showed her pictures of our sons,  and told her our story.

She told us of the night that the young man from Michigan had come to rob the motel. It was just before 'Thanksgiving'. She was working the night shift. He had come in and seemed like a nice clean cut young man. She thought he might have been from the college there. He was well spoken. She asked if he wanted a room. He showed her a gun and told her to give him the money from the register. She said she wasn't afraid at first because he was so soft spoken. She thought the gun wasn't real and that he was joking. But when she didn't take him seriously, he turned and had gotten angry. She then realized he wasn't kidding and got afraid and gave him the money. She asked him to please not kill her. He looked at her and then out the door. Then he said to her with a smile "Happy Thanksgiving" and ran out the back door. I wondered then and still do. Does this woman know just how truly lucky she had been. Had he seen the police car in the parking lot ? They had so callously killed before. Shivers again ran down my spine again. 

After our talk she offered us a room. We declined as graciously as we could so we wouldn't offend her. But we were a bit uncomfortable there knowing the two from Michigan had been there. Silly perhaps but we were. We never did go to the 'Dairy Queen' and I'm not really sure why.

We decided to go to another motel for the night. Then in the morning we were going to 'Bristol' Virginia. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Part ~ 20 Like A Puzzle The Chilling Pieces Start Falling Into Place

We learned more about these two young men. More then I cared to, but needed to. They had worked here  in Marine City, Michigan at a Pizzeria affiliate of the same Pizzeria as the one here in New Baltimore, Michigan. They had left Michigan in early August of  2000 with 15,000. - 20,000. dollars, that they embezzled from the pizzeria, in Marine City. Leaving letters to their parents saying how they wanted to start a new life. First they headed to Ohio to 'Cedar Point'. Then went on to Virginia.

In Virginia they went to Bristol. Where they cased and then robbed a Gun shop. One of them at one point went inside and spoke to the clerk. Then at closing they both went in. One asked the clerk about a knife in the showcase. When the clerk bent down to get it, one surprised him and stuck a knife in his throat. He held him til he stopped moving and died. Basically till the poor man bled to death. He was a 63 year old grand father. They dragged him to the back of the store. Then filled their back pack with 14 guns, ammo, and the new knife. They then left and went to a motel and ordered a pizza.

Next they headed to Florida. Where they got off the highway and went to a gas station with a 'Subway Sandwich Shop'. There a 22 year old young man was working late and alone. Again it was around closing time. One went into the cash register while the other took the young man to the walk in cooler and shot him in the back of the head, execution style. They were caught on surveillance cameras but had been wearing masks. They  fled on foot to their vehicle which was not caught on tape. They got away. This is the very story we had taken to our lawyers back before we had ever heard of these two or knew they even existed.

There had been a young man here who supposedly knew these two, he had worked with the boy who was slain in Michigan. But had gotten fired shortly before. This young man went to school with my daughter and my son's girlfriend. He used to follow them in the hallways at school. And say stupid things them and harass them. One day he said to one of them that he was a part of cult that the two down south were in and they all had a tattoo on the upper arm of an Egyptian Ankh. So I asked the officer if either of the two men they arrested had any tattoos or marks? He looked at me and said yes. They both had a strange Egyptian cross. I asked him if he could draw it and he drew it in my notebook. It was an Egyptian Ankh. Again chills ran down my spine.

We then learned that the police in Kentucky thought they may have robbed a bank during their cross country spree. There were bank bags and money wrappers found in their car.

There was a bank robbery here in Michigan around the time of their disappearance. There had been two robbers who fled on foot and got away. The highway was not far from the bank. This was the same M.O. if you will, of the two down south. The robbers of  the bank had worn masks. They were caught with masks in their car. If they had been doing 3 -5 grams of coke a day as they had written in their letters. Then they would need a lot of money. It was all mind boggling but like a puzzle the pieces were going into place.

They had  robbed and killed at places off the highway. Parking their car away from the targets and then fleeing on foot to the vehicle and getting back on the highway. And fleeing fast from the town they were and got away.

Before we said our good byes to the officer he told us again how frustrated he and his fellow officers were at the attitude of the Michigan authorities, he wished us luck on our trip and back home. Then he told us he would testify to what he told us if Subpoenaed. We thanked him and left, amazed at what we had just learned.

Part 19 ~ A Daring Attempt at A Double Robbery

The news papers here had called it "A 37 State Crime Spree of Murder and Mayhem".  We were about to hear their story first hand...

We spoke at length with the arresting police officer. And learned so much more about the two young men from our town and the horror of their crime spree. The officer told us about the night of their arrest. He said they appeared to be ready for war. It sent shivers down my spine to say the very least.

He told us they had gotten a "Suspicious vehicle" call. Another officer had responded to the call and went to check it out. He saw a car in a 'Dairy Queen' parking lot. there was a young man sitting in the drivers seat. Then another young man came running out of a back door of a motel next to the 'Dairy Queen'. the officer ran after the man who ran into a wooed area behind them. the officer lost him so he doubled back to the car in the parking lot. When he came up to the vehicle he noticed the driver was gone and there was a man in the passengers seat. He drew his gun and came up from behind an saw the man had a gun in his lap and his finger on the trigger. The officer pointed his gun in the window and told him not to move or he would shoot. The man gave up.

While this was going on the friend of the man was in the 'Dairy Queen' trying to rob it. But he was now surrounded . The officer told us he had given them a little trouble but he too gave up. The officer added,  that with cache of weapons and ammo they were carrying there could have been a blood bath. But they didn't fight and were arrested.

He said he felt it was it so far fetched that the prosecutor here was trying to say that our sons were some how linked with these two. He wanted the F.B.I to do a profile on these two, because he was sure if they had. They would find that these two just might be the worst 'team serial killers'  in U.S. history. He felt that these two had robbed and killed many more then they were confessing too. I too felt that they had committed more then we would ever know. Another shiver down my spine. It was like I was in a horror movie or a nightmare that I just couldn't wake from. 

Part 18 ~ Our Quest for The Truth Begins

We three mothers didn't know exactly what to do or expect. But we were determined. We talked with the reporter and got some useful tips and ideas on how proceed when we made it to Kentucky. Which is where we went first because that was where the two were arrested.

We made great time too. We were in Kentucky in 4 hours. Something we noted because the prosecutor had said in court that the two men who went on the 37 state crime spree. Couldn't have robbed and killed the young man here because they wouldn't have had time to travel back to Michigan commit the crime then travel back down to Florida and commit the crime there. But just by driving down south our selves, we proved they had plenty of time. This was the first thing we proved and just by driving there ourselves.

First we went to the police station where the two men from our town had been arrested. We were in luck one of the arresting officers was on duty. After we told him who we were and why were there. He seemed very interested and more then willing to speak with us.

He gave us so much information and was so very kind. He actually restored my faith in the police. It was nice to know there were still men of integrity in the police profession.

He told us he was as frustrated with the Michigan authorities as we were. That the only Michigan authorities that had come down to Kentucky were from Kalamazoo Michigan, on a double homicide they were investigating. He couldn't believe when they contacted Michigan Authorities in Macomb County they refused to come saying that din't need too. He found their lack of interest very strange.

He commended us three mothers on our courage, tenacity, and unwillingness to give up.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Part ~ 17 Up Set But Far From Giving Up

We were all so up set that day. Even though I had thought this might happen, my heart was breaking for my son. As I watched the bailiff take my son away once again, he in tears. I thought how much more Lord. Please give me strength. Aghhh It was so hard to see. It's hard to think bout even now.

While they were taking my son away, his younger brother was also in tears. Then I saw the mother of the slain young man point her finger at him, his younger brother, and laugh. It was a horrible day.

Things in this case seemed so twisted and off the wall. Since the very beginning nothing was as it seemed. It felt so surreal to me.

I spoke later to the other two mothers. We just couldn't believe with no evidence here in Michigan, nothing, but obviously so much down south. That no one seemed to care about it, not even our own attorneys. How could they keep our boys. And if they went to trial they most likely would never be coming home. We knew we had to do something or our sons would be in jail the rest of their lives.

I had originally been told by our attorney not to speak to the press. And in the beginning the press was horrible to our sons and our families so I didn't want to.And yet at the same time I just wanted to scream at them. Then with the news of the pair being arrested down south. The Media attitudes had started to change. During that time there had been one young reporter who had been most fair about our story. I started communicating with her through a friend. Eventually I trusted her and we began speaking "Off the record".
I talked with her on that horrible day too.

Though that was a horrible day it was also the day everything really started to change too. That day we 3 mothers decided the only recourse we had left was to go down south ourselves. We would have to do for our sons what no one else would. And we would have to do the investigating that the authorities in Michigan refused to do. Also Knowing with the police and Prosecutors attitudes and lies,we would need proof of anything we might uncover. We invited the reporter to go with us. She gladly accepted. She also got a photographer to go too.

We were all pretty much broke because of this case. I remember one phone bill was almost a 1000. dollars from my son calling home reversing the charges from jail. Not to mention attorney fees and such. So we got donations from family and friends. Then early on an April  morning we packed our bags, some sandwiches, cameras and note books. Loaded up the one mother's Bonnieville  and headed down the highway.

Three mothers, one reporter, and a photographer, heading down south. The five of us in one car. All strangers just a few months ago. Now on a quest together for the truth.

Part ~ 16 The Michigan Authorities Refused to Listen

The Head lines all said that The Pair had Gone on a 37 State , 4 month Crime Spree of Mayhem and Murder.

When the news of these two young men in Bristal came out. We were so elated and so positive our sons would now be cleared and let free. But they were not. The Prosecutor and the police continued to insist that they had the right people behind bars.

Three days after the two men were arrested in Virginia. the New Baltimore Police Chief was quoted in the papers as saying .."We have sent our people down to Kentucky. They did the ballistics on the guns that these boys in Kentucky had and there was no match".

That was later to be proven a complete lie.

So we had to go ahead with the "Walker Hearing" after all. And Like I said before, the hearing was to challenge the Validity of the Confessions our sons had been coerced into making. And see if the District Judge would allow the statements to stand. If he did not, then they would be coming home. With all this new evidence coming to light we thought for sure our sons would be released.

The prosecutor continued to say that there was no proof that the two in Kentucky ever came here. That they had told their investigators that they did not kill the young man here. Then the Prosecutor said " They admitted to the murder in Virginia and the one in Florida, why would the deny doing the murder here in Michigan". And If we had left it up to our Justice System and still believed in it, we might have we might have believed the Prosecutor was telling the truth. But with everything we were hearing and reading in the papers we did not.

The "Walker Hearing" lasted longer then usual.Our Attorneys kept asking the Prosecutor to get the Atlas and the map with their route marked on it. The Prosecutor kept saying that the Virginia Authorities were being very uncooperative. That he was having a hard time getting it, Another lie, later to be proven. He said his people had looked at the map when they went to Kentucky. And yes there was a mark on New Baltimore. but it was only there because that was their home town. And still said they never came back to Michigan. That he had proof they were no where near Michigan at the time of the murder. Of course he never came up with that proof.

The judge ordered the prosecutor to get the map or a copy of it by March 27 2001. That day came and went and he still did not.

Then A Bombshell....Virginia Authorities did the 'True" ballistics and when the results came in  there was a match. The two down south had the murder weapon. Again we thought our sons would surely be released.

Now the Prosecutor and the Police, were changing what they said and said they believed My son and his friends went down to Ohio. Met the two young men, borrowed the gun. then drove back hear committed the robbery and murdered the young man here. Then again drove back down to Ohio and gave the gun back to the two men....Really?? It was so far fetched.

My son was so sure he was coming home. But I tried to tell him to please not get his hopes up because it's been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride of hope and dashed hope.

March 27 came and with no map, and no proof of anything the prosecutor and police were saying to be true.  The judge let the statements stand. My son was going to trial for capital murder.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Part ~ 15 A True Break In the Case

On November 21st. The day before 'Thanksgiving'. Two young men were arrested in Williamsburg , Kentucky, while trying to commit a daring, double robbery of a motel and a 'Dairy Queen'.

When they and their car were searched. The police found 12 guns, all loaded. Some still had price tags on them.. Two knives, false ID's , and equipment to make more. Stolen License plates, A detailed drawing of a bank, bank money wrappers, masks,and letters to an ex-girlfriend. Saying how they were doing 3-5 grams of coke a day if not more, and their exploits .Bloody boots, a back pack with bloody clothes and a bloody knife in it.  last but not least, a road Atlas with their travel route clearly marked on it.

They were from Michigan...New Baltimore Michigan to be exact.

They had worked at the same pizzeria that the young man here did and where he was killed. And not only did they know him, one was rumored to have dated the young man's sister. Later it was found to be true.

They had marked their route in the atlas, they also put red marks on the places were they had committed a murder along with a robbery so as not to return there.. There was a mark on St Augustine, Florida. Where the Subway sandwich clerk was killed. One on Bristal, Virginia, where a 64 year old gun store clerk was killed...and one here on New Baltimore, were the young man was killed.

Our attorney called to tell us of their arrest. That day I went to town to pay my water bill. And due to the atmosphere in town I usually tried to avoid going there. Still do to this very day actually. But anyways,
I was waiting to pay my bill and could hear the man and two women behind the counter talking about my son and the murder. I broke...

I stood up straight, a little taller, cleared my throat, and said .."Excuse me, that's my son you are all talking about. And I just want to say he is innocent. He was coerced to confessing. Read the papers tonight, you will see they have caught the true murders in Kentucky. And I guarantee you, my son will be coming home. Mark my words on that." They might not remember that day, but I will never forget it.

Part ~ 14 Breaking My Heart

My son was now being kept in "Solitary" in 'Lock Down".

That is, locked in his cell alone for 23 hours a day. Let out for one hour to shower and use the phone. Sometimes, many times, he was denied the use of the phone. At first he was only allowed to be dressed in what he called a ''bam bam suit". Just enough to cover him to his private area, I believe it was made of paper. The bed if you could call it that, was a metal slab/shelf attached to the wall. He had no pillow so he would use the paper bag that his bologna sandwich meal came in for a pillow.  He told us they blew cold air into the sell too. The treatment of my son was unbearable.  As a mother my heart was breaking for him. I can't begin to explain what I felt. I believe they were punishing him, trying to crack him into .saying his confession was real.

Then when that didn't work. We weren't allowed to to visit him from late November til January 20, 2001. They denied him his commissary as well. their reasons were it was disciplinary. Commissary is where the prisoner is allowed to buy things like paper and stamps, books, magazines, candy bars, ect.

So now he was truly alone with not even having visits to look forward to. The reasons they took his visits and commissary away were for..

1)  He kept an orange from lunch.

2)  He gave another inmate a candy bar.

3)  He had an extra uniform.

Now the reason he had this extra uniform was because earlier that day another crazy inmate. that yelled every time my son  used the phone, so he couldn't hear. Oh who also would stuff things down his toilet so it would flood over into my son's cell..Well this crazy inmate decided that wasn't enough. So when my son walked past his cell he took a cup of urine and threw it on my son. My son ran back to the phone a called me crying and told me what had just happened. then he had to go because the guards were coming and yelling at him to get off the phone.

I was stunned and so angry. I called the jail and demanded that they let my son shower. I told the officer on the phone that I would call the press. that I knew they were not running a Hotel, but it was just Human Basic Rights. And that My son didn't come into their jail with AIDs , Hepititus, or any other diseases. And he better not come out with any or i would make sure they would pay.And that I was ging to call my lawyer when i got off the phone with him.

They let my son shower...3 hours later.

And that is why he had an extra uniform when they came in. what was he supposed to do with the soiled one? That is why were not allowed to see him for nearly two months.

Part ~ 13 The Fight Begins

During the hearing as I said before, we three mothers became fast friends. We spoke on the phone every day and sometimes several times in one day.

Then one day the mother of the young man who was held along with my son. Told me she had gone on the internet doing searches as we all  had been doing. But this time she came across a story in a Florida news paper. She said it was eerily similar to the to the story here. A 24 year old young man was working late at a 'Subway Sandwich' shop. He had been robbed,  placed in the walk- in freezer, and then shot in the back of the head, execution style. A Co-worker found him the next morning. The story as so similar even down to the very time frame. It had been caught on the security camera. there was two perpetrators, both male, both white, but that is all they could tell. They were wearing masks so they couldn't tell what they looked like.

The Story was so similar to the one here. We knew we had found the true killers of the young man here.

We both took the story to out attorneys. They also felt as we did. That it was just too close. My attorney called it a "Cookie Cutter" crime. Our attorneys took this info to the court. And they scheduled a "Walker Hearing" It was a hearing to contest the validity of the confessions. Which we knew were false.

They held our sons for a total of 178 days. At first they were together in the mental ward section supposedly on suicide watch. together? This seemed very odd to me, that they would be held together. But I came to believe that they did it in hopes that they would talk to one another about the case. And turn on each other blaming one another. But what had happened instead, was that they became good friends, life long friends. they said nothing about the crime because they knew nothing about it. I think once the authorities realized this they decided to separate them. Perhaps they felt a new tactic was necessary...  Divide and Concur?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Part 12~ The Preliminary Hearing

In the beginning we three mothers not knowing each other were facing the same circumstances, we had some very basic things in common..We all knew our sons were innocent first and for most. Unknowingly we all mortgaged our homes and hired our own attorneys... We all were fighting for our sons lives.

I can honestly say I was terrified too.Not only had I been scared of what would happen that first day in court with the community's scorn. I was also scared that both the other mothers would not want to speak to me, and blame my son, or something like that.

But at the end of that first day I introduced myself to both of the other mothers. We hugged and cried and we became fast friends. Through out the next few days we exchanged phone numbers and information we each had.

So the Hearing began.They brought our sons into court in striped uniforms, bullet proof vests, and shackles. It was awful. Like I had said it was the worst I've ever felt my whole life.

But when our new lawyer walked through the Courtroom doors, mouth's dropped, and the room got quieter. I heard people whispering. And it was then I knew what I had heard that.. "Our lawyer was the Lawyer's, Lawyer"... was true. I also knew then we had made the right decision. And My heart and confidence rose a little bit for the first time in weeks.

The Prosecution had 3 witnesses. One was a well known drug dealer among the young people here in the community. He was also high as a kite. He took the 5th after two days of testimony. When his drug habits and dealings were being questioned. Then the Prosecutions other two witnesses recanted their original statements, saying they also had been forced and coerced by the police.One was threatened there in court by the prosecutor that he would be prosecuted if he recanted. but he had a lawyer of his own and recanted. Later they held true to their threats and the young man and his family became in broiled as well in this corrupt system. He was being punished for not doing what they wanted.

These were the only witnesses the prosecution ever had. Let me here again say, there was never then nor now any evidence ever linking our 3 boys to that horrible crime. Only two coerced confessions.

On the last day of the Preliminary Hearing, the judge sat in his chair finishing a pre-written statement that he himself told the court he had worked on the night before. Let me state again he had started it the night before and continued writing it during the closing arguments. Was he biased? Yes I believe he was. How could he prepare a statement before he had heard the closing arguments? He knew the night before what he was going to do, before he even got to court that morning.

When the closing arguments were done, he seemed like a child excited to get his chance to speak. The judge released the 16 year old friend of my son for reasons of lack of evidence. He had been the only one not to make a confession.

However the judge did it only after making what I would call a horrendous speech, which I'll say again, was pre made. In this speech he said He knew All three were miscreants. And " he" himself, fully felt that this young man was as guilty as his cohorts. And he fully expected him to be back in court sitting next to them in chains again.

Later this judge was reprimanded by the Michigan State Tenure for his comments. But on that day, his horrible comments not only caused my heart to sink and tears to stream down my face. But it also caused the poor young man's mother to literally faint at my feet.

The judge ordered my son and the 19 year old to be held. It hurt so bad I can't even explain my pain. Do not get me wrong I did and still do feel so much sympathy for the mother and family of the young man who had been so callously murdered. But now I was fighting for my son's life who I knew was innocent.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Part 11 ~ My First Contact With The World of The Media...

I don't know how much of the Detroit area news you might have gotten back then. But the media coverage here was unreal. The reporters had tried and convicted our son's before they had ever gone to court. It was horrible. I never saw anything like then or since.

The Preliminary Hearing had been set for November 8Th. I'll never forget that day, all the thoughts and fears I had. I actually expected to see an angry mob outside the court house, yelling, and throwing stones. I know that sounds silly but if you had lived here and saw the news coverage you would understand why I would think that.

To my astonishment the opposite happened. There was a mob, but when the jail van pulled up with our sons in it, the mob held up their fists, in the sign of Power and Solidarity and chanted..."We know you're innocent, and we love you guys".... I've never been so moved in my life, I nearly fainted. It so reminded me of the "Billy Jack" movie, where in the end the deputies take Billy away. And the people line the road with their fists held high. It gave me the strength I needed. Holding my breath, my head high, and my husband at my side, I walked past the crowd, the reporters, and went into the courthouse.

When we got into the courtroom it was practically standing room only. The 1st 4 rows had been set aside for the poor family of the murdered young man and reporters. My husband and I were able to find a seat. Then I looked back and saw my son's friends parents standing in the back, and there wasn't any seats left. So I moved over to make room for one of the other mothers and as I did so, this reporter pushed past her and sat down. I told him the seat was saved and he said..."Yeah For Me"...Then he pulled an apple out of his pocket and began to eat it. He was a horrible little man, the same reporter who had stood in front of my husband's truck at the arraignment trying to stop him so he could get a few words. The same reporter who had come to our front door the day that my son was arrested and the police told him to go away. threatening him with closing down his paper if they saw any of the officers faces on the news or in the paper.

Through out my son's whole ordeal, I never gave this man an interview. I learned later from the mother of the 16 year old, that he had gone to her house the day they arrested our sons as well and told her he had spoken to both of us other two moms. And we had both said we blamed her son and hated him and his family. Which was a complete fabricated lie. He had her scared to approach either of us. Nice guy eh?

I had given only one interview to a reporter the day my son was arrested. For two reasons, the first was to let everyone know I didn't believe my son was guilty, the second was to convey my deepest sympathies to the family of the murdered young man. And I had specifically told this young reporter that I was only giving him the interview if he made sure both points were printed. The next day when I read his article I was mortified to see he had twisted everything I had said, and Never mentioned my sympathy for the victims family. I called him crying and asked why. He wasn't very sympathetic, and actually rude. I never gave him another interview either.

By this point we had been told by the new attorney we had hired, not to give any more statements. So for a while, we did not. Though I'll always wish we had.

The world of the media is so different then people realize. They think it's way to get information and truth on the current events effecting their world. In actuality it's just another form of entertainment. A way to make money. Printing the actual truth, is almost non existent. I don't know how many times I sat in court and thought "Wow, wait til this is put out there.." Only to see or read the news the next day and wonder if the reporters were in the same courtroom as we were.

I recall in court that first day, two young women reporters, sitting waiting for court to begin. They were talking of one of theirs wedding plans. When they brought our sons in to the room in striped uniforms, bullet proof vests, and chains. This was the very first time I had seen my son in person since they had arrested him. I nearly threw up and then I heard the one woman reporter laugh and say to the other .."That one should be found guilty just for the color of his hair alone"... These were our sons, our children, our boys. They knew we were sitting and standing just feet away.

We were crying, and they were joking.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Part 10~The Fight For My Son's Life Began

So here I was. My 18 son was in jail, accused of a murder I knew in my heart he did not commit. A murder he told me he did not commit.

What do I do? What do I say? Where did I go from here? What was next? All I could do was what I thought was right. I had no experience. No real knowledge of the legal system. I wasn't wealthy be any stretch of the word. I was just a clerk at a local department store, making a little above minimum wage. My husband was a skilled laborer. Together we were making just enough to survive. We had 7 children, 4 were still living at home and 1 was in college up North.

My son had been given a court appointed attorney. That attorney later called me and told me point blank that he didn't have the means it would take to defend my son, this case was just too big. That I needed a lawyer with what he called a 'war chest'. And the funds just were not there for him being a court appointed attorney.

I got on the phone and called a cousin of mine who was a lawyer. I explained what was going on. He told me he had seen the news all that day. I told him we needed a good lawyer and I needed his help to find one. He himself was not a criminal lawyer. But he said he knew a few different ones and he would get back with me as soon as possible.

In the mean time I also called the lawyer my brother in-law had told me about. We set up an appointment with that lawyer while we waited to hear back from my cousin. We went and spoke with this lawyer and I liked him quite a bit. He had already researched my son's case and had spoken with him. He said he believed my son but with this signed statement it was going to be a very tough case. He then told us he would need 75,000. just to be retained, and there would be more fees as the case progressed. I was crushed. There was no way we could ever come up with the sum he asked for.

My cousin then came through. He had a Friend who was a very good criminal lawyer and had a lot of experience with high profile cases. And as a favor to my cousin, he went and spoke with my son. He then said he believed my son and he would take the case for a much lower fee. So we remortgaged our home, borrowed money from family, and Jon's father, my ex. And we retained this lawyer. I had heard it said once that this lawyer was the lawyer's lawyer. I believe we hired the best we could.

I did not know at that time the other two boys parents or families. Unknowingly we had all done the same thing and hired the best lawyers we could. None of us went with the court appointed attorneys. This wasn't something that the authorities thought would ever happen.

I will always believe that the authorities, thought that this would be a slam dunk case. That they had three troubled youths, from troubled homes and who's families did not care about them. I think they thought they'd all have court appointed attorneys and they would all "plea" and the case would be closed.

However, these were not three throw away boys from bad homes. Troubled youths perhaps. But they had families who loved them, cared about them, and who all separately swore to stand behind them. I truly believe had they known "Us" at all they never would have settled on our three sons.

The authorities were in for a fight they never expected.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Part~9 Back Tracking A Bit....

So far I've talked of my son and what he, myself and our family had been going through. But there is much more to this story. There were two other young men who were arrested along with my son. His two friends who he had been with at the bonfire the night the young man was killed at the pizzeria.

So many things had happened in the week after this young man had been murdered. And prior to my son's arrest.

Another pizzeria affiliated with the one in town was also robbed. And the night before they picked up my son. The police went to a home in Detroit and tried to arrest a man there on the suspicion he had killed the young man here. They televised the whole thing on the evening news. The man had actually been found at the house next door to the one they went to, and he was hiding under a bed. They took him in. He was giving a lie detector test and passed.

They next day was they day they came for my son. He had been out walking around the subdivision behind us with his girlfriend. When out of no where, came a couple of dark unmarked SUV's speeding up on them. When they stopped abruptly, men dressed in black came running out and surrounded my son and his girlfriend with their guns drawn. They told my son to get in the vehicle and told his girlfriend to follow them.

My son later told us how they drove at a high rate of speed through the local streets. He said he wasn't even sure who they were. And he remembered being scared and thinking these men were going to kill him. He said his girlfriend had trouble keeping up with them but some how managed.

Let me stop here now and explain something. In early Oct. a friend of my son had been ambushed and shot in a home of a neighbor. He was still in the hospital in a coma. And at that time they still had not found the person or persons who had did it. And here was some men dressed all in black surrounding my son with guns drawn. This for sure added to the fear my son was experiencing and why he thought these men might kill him. I'll always believe that these men, these officers were totally aware of that fact. And that is why they did it the way they did. I'll be the first to say my son was no angel, he had had a few run ins with the local police, he had two MIP's (minor in possession) and a few minor contacts with the police. But nothing like this. The police set the stage that night before they even had my son in the station. Also if you remember me saying in the beginning of this story, they hadn't taken my son to the police station here in town, they took him to another station. So he had no clue where he was going until he got there.

Now at the station, they told his girlfriend to go home, and they began their night of interrogation.They questioned my son and asked him who he had been with the night of the murder in town. When my son told them. Some officers left and went to round them up too.

Now they had three boys. My son, his friend a 16 year old, and his friend's friend, a 19 year old. They took them all separately into different rooms. The 16 year old by Michigan law had to have his parents present during his questioning. My son had just turned 18 three weeks earlier. He and the 19 year old were considered adults and were not allowed to have their parents present.

They questioned these boys for hours. The 16 year old was the only one of the three who did not confess. He was also the only one who's parents were allowed to be there too. The police did try and get the 16 year old to sign a blank confession, his parents would not let him of course. His parents also heard the sounds of what they thought were chairs and things being thrown and loud voices.

My son and the 19 year old both ended up signing confessions. Neither of their confessions matched each others and were riddled with in consistencies. My son told me he wrote what he was told. The other young man's statement was written by an officer with the 19 year old's initials next to each statement. With these statements the police felt they had enough to arrest the 16 year old as well.

In the early hours of Oct 26th 2000, and without my knowledge, my 18 year old son and his two friends were arrested for a murder they did not commit. What my son didn't know nor did we, was that by signing that piece of paper he had basically signed his life away. They were not going to let him go like they had said. Even though they never ever found any evidence that placed our son or his two friends at the scene of the crime. Not a finger print, no DNA , no smoking gun, and no witnesses. All they ever had were these two statements which both my son and the 19 year old recanted and said were coerced.

How would the boys know that by signing those statements,it was like a binding contract. They wouldn't. We didn't. But the officers knew.

Part~8 Why Would Anyone Confess...

So now we waited for the minister to return with word on our son. We waited till late evening and good to his word, he did return. He said he had taken Jon a letter his sister had wrote him and read it to him, because he wasn't allowed to give Jon anything. He said Jon looked as good as could be expected and he was holding up. That he wanted us to know he did not do this, and that he loved us very much. The minister told Jon we loved him and we knew he didn't do it. That we were behind him a 100%.

Then the minister handed my husband a napkin that he had written information that Jon had given him. He said that Jon told him he had been at a bonfire the night that the murder occurred. that he wasn't anywhere near our town. And there were several people that could verify he was there all night. And also that his two friends were there as well. He gave him phone numbers and names. The minister spoke with us for a while and then he prayed with us and left. We were so very grateful to this man. A perfect stranger who had been more than kind to us and his act of kindness would prove to be very helpful in the coming future. My husband then took the list of numbers and names and started making phone calls. He talked with several people.

Now you are probably asking yourself at this point.."But he confessed? Why would he confess if he didn't do it, especially to a murder?"...

Let me say, I have done a lot of research on my own during my son's case and for years after. People confess to things they didn't do for many different reasons. You probably picture a scene where a suspect is being beaten physically. But that isn't the case. It's a psychological beating so to speak. They are actually taught how to interrogate. The technique that the police are trained to use during an interrogation is very much a psychological game for lack of a better word. They are allowed to lie, but not allowed to threaten, yet some do. They are not supposed with hold the suspect food,drink, or the bathroom. They are not allowed to promise the suspect anything either. They spend a great deal of time convincing the suspect that they may have very well blacked out what they have done. They tell them that their friend confessed, even if they haven't. And they keep them away from everyone except them.

Jon was questioned for hours and withheld any contact from anyone in his family. He was told when he asked for me that I didn't want him. He was told his friends both confessed and said "He" did the murder. He heard what sounded like chairs and things being thrown, and loud voices. Jon was told that the FBI would be coming in next to question him and they didn't like him. He was told that there were men in prison that didn't like boys like him and bad things would happen. He had been there for hours and was crying he wanted to go home. After hours and hours of denying being there or knowing anything about it.  He was told just confess, if you didn't do it then there won't be any evidence and they'll have to let you go home, otherwise with your friends all ready confessing and you not, it won't look good or go well, just say it was accident. He was also told by one officer, that the officer new the judge and he would put a good for him, and he might go easier on him. He'd been going through this for hours. He was tired, scared, and alone. He had asked for a lawyer but they never gave him one. Questioning by law should have stopped right then and there. But they continued.

My son was taught since he was small to trust the police. And he did trust them. He believed them. So in the very end he did what he was told. And he confessed...To a horrible murder he did not do.