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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Paul's Response to the Podcast - Part 4

Reply All never set out to produce a serious murder mystery story because there was no mystery. No one was looking for the one armed man. Bob Faraci admitted to being at the crime scene and the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrated he killed Dean Fawcett. Therefore, Reply All had to create the suspense and theater. There was the Palatine Massacre and a bizarre murder trial where the killer was acquitted while a teenager with autism was held accountable for his actions. What exactly was his involvement, if any? Sruthi Pinnamaneni ostensibly sets out to find.

An investigator from the "Crook" County States Attorneys Office testified to the grand jury that a mark was placed on a map book in my possession. That mark was very near where the body was found. Anyone who looked at that map would have known this was not an "X marks the spot" or that it was placed there with a pen.  It was simply a small line put on all maps of that area by the publisher. Before the trial, my attorney discovered the "mark" was on all the map books and the S.A.'s office claimed they just made an honest mistake.  However, John Robertson went on to testify falsely at my trial. He claimed I admitted knowing Bob Faraci intended to kill the victim and knowing this, I lent him my car.  Conspicuously absent was any audio, stenographed, or signed statements to support his contention.

John Robertson refused to speak with Sruthi Pinnamaneni, but his interrogation partner from the Palatine Police Department obliged. John Koziol said maybe I didn't want to sign a statement and if they were going to make up a lie, they would have made up a better one than loaning a car. Possibly, Mr. Koziol forgot that Robertson testified it was not that I ever refused but that he never sought any verification. As for why Robertson just didn't claim I confessed to the murder, Bob and Rose Faraci were hardly believable. They made numerous inconsistent, nonsensical, and patently false statements including implicating Brian Palasz who had an alibi.  Had I also had one, Robertson probably thought he would be in a pickle. It was not foolproof, but much safer for him to lie around the edges.

Sruthi Pinnamaneni grilled me about those alleged statements. It made me angry because the cop was lying, not about everything but the details.  Sruthi asked why Koziol would vouch for Robertson.  He was a part of the blue shield, I told her. His loyalty to fellow police officers was far greater than to me. As a staunch liberal, she retorted that cops would never fabricate evidence against a white person.  I thought that was absurd. The police didn't care what race I was. They are not pervasively racist as the "Black Lives Matter" movement claims and the political left embraces. Some police just arrogantly believe they are above the law and can act as judge, jury, and in rare instances executioner.

Assistant States' Attorneys Paul Tsukuno and James McKay prosecuted me under a theory of accountability, however, they flirted with the idea that I was the actual killer. There was no evidence of this and even trial judge Sam Amirante mocked their empty suggestions and rhetoric. At my sentencing hearing, he said being there in spirit was not actually being there and what they believed was irrelevant. The prosecution had not shown that Paul Modrowski was at the crime scene.  This did not deter James McKay from continuing to argue the matter and I assumed it was because my conviction was untenable. Although the killer was acquitted, I was condemned to an eternity in prison for lending my car which I can prove never occurred.

My trial attorney, William Von Hoene, didn't believe I could be held culpable for my co-defendant and therefore conceded the testimony of John Robertson. Mr. Von Hoene also refused to call alibi witnesses who placed my car approximately 50 miles from the crime scene. Rose Faraci's testimony at a prior proceeding was that I left alone in my car in the early afternoon that day but the jurors never heard that.  Likewise, they never learned that a blood stain was found in Faraci's car and nothing was found in mine.

When Sruthi interviewed James McKay he conceded that I did not loan my car. In fact, neither he nor the police believed I did. His theory of accountability was only a means to an end.  He said he believes I actually killed Dean Fawcett. His proof was the same dubious contention he made over 20 years ago and was rejected. In episode 3, McKay can be heard saying  that Faraci is a "nervous, lying weasel" and Paul was "one cool customer." My favorite was his statement that "the absence of evidence is compelling evidence."  It reminds me of Orwellian double-speak. However, despite how empty James McKay's rhetoric is, I know he says it with the conviction of a zealous prosecutor. It also gave Reply All an excuse to entertain the suggestion that I was at the crime scene.

On April Fools Day, Sruthi Pinnamaneni met with Bob Faraci. After his arrest, Bob accused me of the Palatine Massacre, the Barrington murder, and nearly every unsolved crime he had heard of. In his interview he said what he told police was indeed lies, but his trial testimony was true. His trial testimony was just as preposterous but she pressed him to talk about the murder. Faraci said it was too traumatic for him to speak of. I realized he was not going to give a confession, especially to a reporter. He vividly recalled the media frenzy in 1993 and today a story like this could go viral ruining his reputation and much more. However, until he does, the prosecutor will always have an excuse to question my innocence. As will Pinnamaneni.

Months previously, Reply All had been sent several affidavits that demonstrate Bob Faraci's testimony was false. Two were from men who went to and from the court house with him. They stated Faraci admitted to killing Fawcett alone. Neither of those men knew each other but gave details only Bob Faraci could have provided. A very close former friend of Bob Faraci also provided another affidavit. They discussed the murder as well as the dismemberment of the victim. Faraci may not like talking to a news reporter about the murder, but seemingly he doesn't mind telling a number of other people. At the time, Sruthi thought these statements were highly significant, however, she no longer does. She told me "they are not evidence."  I replied they are sworn and notarized affidavits which can be submitted in court. She didn't care. She also claimed Faraci's own affidavit was no longer relevant. "No one thinks you loaned your car," she told me.

Not only were those dismissed by Sruthi but also my alibi witnesses' affidavits. She told me they were not credible because they were given by family members. She asked me if I had any other evidence to prove I was not at the crime scene. I asked how many witnesses did I need? Numerous times the police accept the word of a single person, including a girlfriend. The police also accepted Brian Palasz's alibi which was supported only with phone calls. Sruthi then became obsessed with getting the telephone records from my sister's house. They were not available, however. The phone company could not even provide them a year later when the prosecutor and my defense attorneys subpoenaed them.  For Sruthi, no phone records, GPS, or dated digital photos meant no alibi.

It is increasingly obvious to me the news reporter is prejudiced and believes I am guilty. After the first podcast, I simply asked her. She gave me a muddled indecisive response. I said I already knew and there was no purpose playing games. I will still continue to call and give her the in-person interview. Sruthi said she thought my trial was terribly unfair. She also could never come close to convicting me, but it was her opinion that I was involved in some way. The violence I exhibited as a teenager, my criminal associates, and my friendship with Bob was too suggestive to think otherwise.  I respected her honesty but what does her opinion matter anyway? Opinions are like assholes... everyone has one. However, I never suspected she would be so unprofessional to broadcast her opinion or buttress it falsely with a fraudulent source.

Since Sruthi Pinnamaneni had already discussed with me every facet of my case, there must have been a motive for her to meet me in person. What could she glean that she couldn't by phone? She wanted to assess my autism and if I came across as evil. She also wanted the theater of meeting me for the last episode. Furthermore, although I did not believe she would profess to know what happened, the angle was to attack my innocence. I prepared for the assault.

In the weeks leading up to the interview, I sharpened my social skills with a prison psychologist and a workbook she provided. On the morning of June 1st, I also drank a lot of instant coffee, possibly, too much. The caffeine would have the effect of not only making me more social and adroit, but aggressive. I was like a stick of dynamite just waiting to explode at the slightest provocation. When Sruthi Pinnamaneni mentioned King Diamond, I knew she was trying to insinuate I was evil. The band members were thought to be Devil worshipers and their music had eerie themes. I had a fairly good idea of who told her I was once a fan and wanted her to admit it. Her imaginative story of what occurred Monday night was also goofy but made me angry. She was accusing me of participating in Fawcett's murder.

A few days after the interview, I called her. I was baffled she could think I was guilty. There were alibi witnesses, affidavits, and other damning evidence that Bob Faraci committed the crime. His own wife testified at trial that she had seen him come home wearing blood soaked clothing and they conspired to frame me of the murder. He lived at one time blocks away from the crime scene and walked to Barrington High School on those same railroad tracks. He brought police back to the crime scene and pointed out exactly where the body was found and other evidence only the killer could have known. Not only were his statements to police preposterous and picked apart, his testimony was. All Sruthi had to say was when taken with Nadine Lenarczak's testimony there was plausibility. What?! That was like dumping two bags of garbage together and claiming to have discovered a treasure trove.

Nadine Lenarczak's testimony was the most ludicrous testimony the prosecutor proffered to the jury and I was not embellishing when I said that laughter broke out in the courtroom. The woman was a drug addict and a prostitute who was living out of a motel room with her pet raccoon. She was in and out of psychiatric wards for a myriad of mental problems. She testified to hearing and seeing things that didn't exist. She also had severe blackouts, once finding herself in a tree not knowing how she got there. When she was arrested for the murder, she began smashing her face and head into the metal grill dividing the front and back seat of the squad car. After being released from the hospital, she said she didn't know anything, but when pressed by police, she blabbered about the criminal thugs she associated with in many car insurance scams. Eventually, the police were able to get her to remember Dean Fawcett.

Sruthi had heard all this before and she even covered part of it in episode 3. However, she bafflingly says Nadine was as credible as me! After she told me this, I hung up the phone and quickly highlighted Nadine's statements that instantaneously agreed with the case police were trying to build. I knew the letter would never reach her before the final episode was released, but I did it anyway. Lenarczak abruptly changed her story and said Brian bullied the victim at the mall to Paul bullied him. And then Bob Faraci no longer arrived with Brian the day after but now it was Paul. It was very conspicuous because Bob Faraci just the day before Nadine's last statement had admitted to falsely implicating Brian Palasz, and the police confirmed his alibi. I assume Lenarczak remembers very little of the events past and was coached and coerced by police. A month before my trial, Nadine was rewarded with criminal charges being dropped against her in a massive insurance scam, although I have no doubt they would be reinstated if she didn't cooperate in my trial.

On the day episode 4 was to be broadcast, I called Sruthi. She told me she had been digging around in my past and talked to various people who once knew me. I told her I was sure she did. "You are just one busy bee: buzz...buzz...buzz."  For some reason she wanted to ask me again why I thought Bob Faraci killed Dean Fawcett.  I told her the same as I did before:  I was uncertain. It could be mafia related, or the check scam, and possibly paranoia from cocaine use. Then she wanted to do a little fact checking including a fight I had years ago with Scott Anderson.  Sruthi had spoken with him not long ago and what a story he had to tell.  She asked me if it was true that just before I stabbed him I said, "You have an appointment with death and all you need to do is meet it."  I responded sarcastically, "What do you think?"  She said it sounded like something I would say.  "No," I told her. I was tired of all her accusatory questions and my time on the phone was up. She asked if I could call back later that night. I said, "No" and that was the last time I spoke to her

I do not have Internet access, but over the weekend I called my parents. My mother was terribly upset. I inquired why she was so troubled. She said the podcast: Sruthi had stabbed me in the back. She stabbed all of us in the back. All this time we spent helping her put together the 4 part series and in the last episode she is horrible to me. My mother can be a bit overemotional and I asked, "How?" She was too upset to articulate herself well. My mother said she would just play the podcast for me to hear for myself. She placed her phone near her computer speakers.

I was not as upset as my mother. Possibly, I am just "one cool customer." Possibly, it was because I already knew how Pinnamaneni and her colleagues at Reply All felt about me. I also knew the podcast was going to take a negative turn. What has made me angry enough to write this 4 part reply, however, was the nerve of Sruthi to give her personal opinion and base it on deception. She has no source that places me at the crime scene.

The only person who could claim to put me at the murder site is Bob Faraci. And the only people who could claim to know what occurred later in the Faraci's apartment were the Faracis. Rose Faraci testified they framed me and it was her husband who came home with blood soaked clothing. Regardless, Rose would not know the difference between soccer and football. No one could remember a game from 24 years ago even a sport's fanatic and bookie like Bob. Neither of the Faraci's would know who King Diamond was, nor recognize his music. However, someone Sruthi spoke to recently would.

During my first year of high school, I occasionally wore a King Diamond T-shirt. Early in the year, I had a fight with Scott Anderson and just happened to be wearing that t-shirt.  A stoner friend of his came to his defense and jokingly said that I needed to cut down on my listening of the band's music. However, Anderson took him seriously and when I fought him again, he told police I tried to kill him. The police asked what my motivation could possibly be. Anderson claimed I was a devil worshipper and King Diamond fanatic. This is the same asinine story he told Sruthi and he conjectured was my reason to kill Fawcett. This is why I demanded she tell me where she got her information during our interview, but she wouldn't reveal her source.

Sruthi Pinnamaneni is biased and had an axe to grind. At every turn, she dismissed or ignored proof of my innocence. While she rejected solid evidence, she embraced the most incredulous sources. Yet, after episode 3, she was still stymied to present a satisfying case against me. For the grand finale, she needed a melodramatic concluding act. She fabricated a secret source and confronted me in-person with a silly scenario. I am both amused and angry. Proof positive I am guilty or guilty of something Sruthi narrated. However, it only proved her to be unprofessional and showed the lowly depths of tabloid journalism she had sunk to.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Paul's Response to the Podcast -- Part 3

In the lead-up to the podcast, I was in regular contact with Sruthi Pinnamaneni. Every week and occasionally twice a week, I would call her. She was very nice and engaged me in light chit chat or questions. At times, however, the petite and ostensibly friendly woman turned into a ferocious Chihuahua. She snipped and yapped at me in her high pitched voice attempting to undermine or discredit what I said.  I was impressed and understood the interrogation techniques she employed, but it was not necessary. I was innocent and my story was never going to waver, have holes in it, or conflict with the facts. I was fully transparent in talking with her as well as the documents I provided, even if they reflected poorly on me. My candor, however, became a means for Sruthi to impugn my character. She fixated on my criminal associations and juvenile behavior as if it was somehow probative of my guilt. Even if Sruthi could overcome her political and personal grudges, her opinion was still based on prejudice.

As a child, I was in many fights. At the time, I just thought it was a right of passage. Boys were regularly rough housing and scrapping. In retrospect, however, I realize I was in more physical conflicts due to my lack of social skills. During junior high school, I tried my best to fit in and to excel socially. It was a losing battle. I was never going to be popular. I could be on the honor roll, be the best athlete, imitate the "cool" kids or be their friend, and it did not matter. I was an outsider even if an insider. What I noticed, though, is what I lacked in charisma, I more than made up for in strength, valor, and sense of purpose. I learned the "riddle of steel" and I would use this sword to dominate and crush my enemies. At Westmont High School, my main adversary was a clique of "stoners" and they would reap the whirlwind.

On several occasions, I spoke with Sruthi at great length about the fight with Scott Anderson. She thought violence of any sort was unacceptable. As a liberal, she rejected the notion "boys will be boys" and condemned me for having a weapon. To villainize me in episode 4, she did not provide any background or give my version of events. She just says that at age 14 I just walked up to this kid, pulled a knife, and stabbed him. This kid was an 18-year-old senior who was a part of a pot smoking group of students I was at war with. We rumbled in and out of school, with and without weapons. They attacked in a group, sometimes with pipes and tire irons. I regularly wore riot gloves and Doc Marten boots. Occasionally, I would carry nunchucks, an extendable baton, or a knife.

In the spring of my freshman year, the stoners and I were set to battle at a school bus stop. However, before Scott Anderson had an advantage in numbers, I met up with him. He was no match for me alone and I pummeled the stoner with fists before a spinning back kick that sent him reeling to the ground. While he was stumbling to get up, I pulled out the butterfly knife. My intention was merely to scare him, but when spinning it I accidentally grazed his arm. He fled and I was not even aware of the cut until later. Sruthi spoke to Anderson who claimed I intentionally cut him and to this day he was still traumatized. Well, I expect nothing else from my former foe who was at heart a cowardly sissy. However, a few weeks after the fight, I was told Anderson and his friends met at a local magazine shop. The boys were all laughing as Anderson showed them the small band-aid on his arm and gloated about how he got me in trouble.

At least Sruthi allowed me to respond to the break-in at the Spiess residence. However, she lied in her narration and edited out important information. Melanie never said our photo was removed and put back on her bedroom mirror. She testified the photo was simply moved from where she had placed it. Unlike myself, Harry Adams was charged and plead guilty to making harassing phone calls, including a recording made the day after where he said, "Star light, star bright. I killed your @#%ing dog last night" followed by maniacal laughter. He was also secretly recorded admitting to the break-in and stabbing the dog to undercover ATF agents who were investigating him for a series of burglaries where guns were stolen. In the same tape recording, he went on to say he was looking for something to steal but there was nothing of value and he left empty handed. With Harry ransacking the place, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of things were moved along with the photo.

The transcript Sruthi read is a small and inaccurate excerpt from my conversation with Melanie. It also did not proceed from the break-in, but some quarrels I had with her parents and sister. I may have a dark and wry humor, but I was only joking. In fact, I was reciting the Joker in a Batman movie. She knew I was playing and we continued dating after that phone conversation. After Harry broke into her house, I attempted to apologize for my friend's actions and sent her a dozen roses. I cannot blame Melanie for harboring a grudge and being less than truthful at my sentencing hearing. Not only were my friends mean, I was as well. I also refused to go steady with her and ceased dating her altogether for other girls.

Yes, I like movies: Gladiator, Braveheart, Conan the Barbarian, etc. However, when I brought up the origin of my alias "Viktor" to Sruthi, it was not a nonsequitor nor was I nervous and blurting out a weird story as she suggested.  Long before we met, I had already told her the story. In fact, almost everything we spoke about in person was spoken about previously. I intentionally went into the theme of the film "The Highlander" where immortals beheaded one another because I knew she would use the excerpt. This was showbiz and the story made good theatre. The purpose of the podcast was not to create a serious documentary, but to entertain the audience and I aim to please. Gladiator: "Are you not entertained?!"

Long before Sruthi visited me, I also knew she made up her mind. She couldn't look past how I acted as a teenager, the innuendo, or my criminal associations. Once again, I was trying to show her it was irrelevant to my guilt or innocence. Did she really think a modus operandi was established from a quasi-crank phone call and a movie? The victim was dismembered by Bob Faraci to prevent police from identifying the body. It was a practice of the mafia in the 70's, not that of immortals.

Bob Faraci studied the practices of the Costa Nostra and other organized crime outfits. He sought to be in the Italian mafia and his marriage to Rosalia Rugo was purely a "business decision". Rose was born in Sicily and Bob wanted to exploit her family's connections. By the 1990's, the syndicate in Chicago had mostly broken up and only a loose network of organized crime existed. Much to my dismay, Bob began to work with some of the remnants of the mafia. I refused to be involved, but met and was around these people. What bothered Sruthi Pinnamaneni even more, however, was the friendship I had with Bob himself and circle of other men.

I playfully called this group "The League of Shadows." Sruthi pressed me to tell her all about the mysterious band of men. I told her it was classified. Eventually, I told her I was joking and it was actually called "The Apple Dumpling Gang" which again went right over her head. There was no nefarious and clandestine group or gang, only a loose group of friends who sometimes worked in concert for a sports book, select heists, and other profitable ventures. Sruthi knew prosecutor James McKay was being ridiculous when he exclaimed I was the ring leader and had committed crimes since age 12. In actuality, I had 2 juvenile convictions. One was for the fight I had with Scott Anderson and one was for backhanding a girl with a book at Lincoln-Way. However,  she thought my mere association, especially with Bob Faraci, was incriminating. After all, I lived with him when Fawcett was murdered.

Lincoln-Way was an excellent high school. They had very good teachers and athletic programs. There were many attractive girls and few degenerate drug users to clash with. The student body was predominately white middle or upper class preppies. However, the high school was extraordinarily overcrowded. In the 1994 yearbook, Chrissy Laning wrote an article entitled "Getting Lost in the Crowd" where she compared the crowded hallways to a mosh pit at a Pearl Jam concert.  With my ubermensch mentality, I had no tolerance for the herds of rambunctious students. I could be very aggressive inside as well as outside those cattle chutes. Apparently, my menacing demeanor, size, and striking appearance led some students to call me "Satan" behind my back. I probably deserved their scorn, however, I was not evil as the prosecutor portrayed me or Sruthi would entertain in the podcast for dramatic affect.

At trial, I was deprived of sleep and under tremendous stress. While Bob Faraci actively engaged his jury and acted like O.J. Simpson, I felt and probably looked like a zombie. After 5 weeks, not including various pre-trial motions and jury selection, I was unable to show much if any emotion. I also knew if I tried to express myself or connect with my jury, it would come across poorly. Daily Herald News reporter John Carpenter is heard saying in episode 4 of the podcast that I looked cold and indifferent at my sentencing hearing as well. Part of this was due to the fact I was indifferent. All had been lost after my conviction and I cared little about the sentencing proceedings. I preferred execution rather than suffering and languishing in prison for decades. Despite the killer being acquitted and I being deemed accountable for his actions in the most peripheral way, I was aware the judge was going to give me the harshest penalty.  Months before the trial began the judge told my lead attorney what I was facing if convicted. The sentencing hearing was a farce and I doubt if autism was presented then it would have mattered. However, I still appreciate former trial judge Sam Amirante's recent comments to Sruthi Pinnamaneni that he may have ruled differently. It could be helpful on appeal.

Sruthi Pinnamaneni looked at my case backwards. She began talking to me about my blog which quickly led to biases against my politics and personality. Then she delved into my juvenile history which is irrelevant to my guilt or innocence. There is a reason why sentencing issues are not permitted at trial. It is because they may prejudice a jury. I know very well Sruthi had already made up her mind long before getting into real evidence. From the beginning, she may have sought to malign me. Because in the end, she simply made up a secret source to validate her opinion. The Illinois States Attorneys Office in concert with an enormous multi-jurisdictional police task force spent several million dollars and thousands of man hours searching for evidence that put me at the crime scene and failed. Yet, alakazam! Super-sleuth Sruthi finds the smoking gun. More about this amazing discovery in my final response to Reply All.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Paul's Response to the Podcast -- Part 2

After their arrest in 1993, my former roommates Bob and Rose Faraci conspired to frame me of not only the murder of Dean Fawcett but also the Palatine Brown's Chicken Massacre. Although Rose eventually admitted their accusations were false, the Cook County States Attorneys Office craftily used their chief deputy's lies to prosecute me under a theory of accountability. My lawyer basically conceded my guilt at trial and I was convicted by a jury that was oblivious the killer had walked free. Without mercy, I was condemned to spend the rest of my life in prison. For over 23 years, I have suffered in captivity for a crime I had nothing to do with. Every day I awake increasingly angry and simmering in hatred. However, my bitter ruminations are not the reason Reply All decided to make my criminal conviction the focus of their podcast as Sruthi Pinnamaneni suggested in her narration.

Early in the year, the Netflix podcast "Making of a Murderer" had gained a great amount of media attention. Because I am isolated in a maximum security penitentiary and have no Internet access, news of it was slow to reach me. Eventually, however, I learned some details through television, newspapers, and a People Magazine article. Apparently, a Wisconsin man was framed by police in a murder. After serving 17 years in prison, Steve Avery was exonerated and sued law enforcement. Oddly, not long after his release, he along with his mildly retarded nephew Brendan Dassey were arrested for another murder by the same cops who set him up previously. Netflix investigated the case and made an in-depth 10 episode broadcast. The series was very successful and brought Netflix worldwide attention.

As a small start-up podcast, Reply All sought to copy the success of Netflix as well as other murder mystery broadcasts such as Serial. However, they did not have the resources, experience, or skill sets to make a quality production. After sending Sruthi numerous police reports, transcripts, and affidavits, she still wanted more information. In detail, I had to explain to her how she could order transcripts from the circuit clerk of the court. I also taught her how to get police discovery under the Freedom of Information Act. Still having troubles and wanting confidential reports, my frail mother spent hours searching through boxes, making copies, and sending the packages to New York until finally learning she could simply scan and send the documents electronically. My attorney also spent many hours talking with Sruthi, providing her documents, and even meeting with her a couple of times to show her police evidence.

At the time Jennifer Blagg was working with Reply All, I was in the midst of finding an attorney to assist her in my appeal. After 6 years had passed, it was obvious she needed some help.  However, despite her struggles working on my appeal, she was a very good public advocate. She went well beyond her professional duties to assist Sruthi Pinnamaneni to create a podcast she hoped would be similar to "Making a Murderer". She strongly believed that public attention of my case would show how grossly unjust my conviction was and pressure the states attorneys office to drop the charge of murder. After Anita Alvarez lost reelection under a swirl of police cover-ups, prosecutorial misconduct, and other malfeasance, I thought there may be a slight chance a little media exposure could be beneficial, but I was still highly skeptical.

Reply All was not Netflix and their audience reach was minuscule. It was difficult for me to see how this tiny audio-only podcast could catch widespread media attention. Then, I know how corrupt to the core the Cook County States Attorneys Office was. Many prosecutors did not care about truth or justice, only convictions, and preserving those convictions. The Conviction Integrity Unit created by Anita Alvarez was a fraud and I don't know how much better it will be under Kim Fox. Plus, before the S.A. will even consider a prisoner's innocence, an appeal must be docketed. Jennifer Blagg was still a long way away from filing a post conviction petition, thus why I was seeking other counsel.

Completing and filing the appeal has been my focus since former Governor Quinn rejected my 5th Clemency Petition and I ceased blog postings. A podcast by Reply All would not have any effect on my legal proceedings or hasten them. Despite the strength of my issues, the Cook County States Attorneys Office will delay and fight the appeal tooth and nail for years. By the time the court vacates my conviction, I will be 50 years old and have suffered in prison more years than the statutory maximum I was eligible for. Even if released this very day, there is little I can do to piece together the shattered fragments of the life I once had. A decade from now there will be only dust. The only motive I had in a podcast was to give my obituary. I am dead and have been since I was 18 years old.

Up until Spring, dialogue with Sruthi Pinnamaneni seemed to have the intent of creating an eulogy. She was impressed by the blog but sought information about my life before I began writing and even as a child. I did not speak until I was 5 years old, but quickly overcame most autism symptoms. I excelled in sports as well as academics. She asked me what my dreams and aspirations were before my arrest, including what university I sought to attend. It was not until prison, I earned a degree with a perfect 4.0 GPA and she asked how the classes were conducted. She inquired about my early experiences in jail and prison. They were life shattering and extremely violent, however, I spent more time protecting other men from being prey to gangs. Sruthi wanted me to articulate the oppression and misery of maximum security, but this was a subject I didn't like thinking about. She asked me what was my happiest moment then, and because they are so far and few between, I was able to quickly answer. Meeting the girl I had romantically courted overseas by mail was the highlight of my afterlife. The topics covered were positive, praise worthy, and inspiring if not also heartbreaking. However, there was a turning point when Sruthi was critical and antagonistic.

Sruthi did not like me and it went beyond my support of Donald Trump. As a bleeding heart liberal, she had compassion for those with autism, however, I was not a sympathetic retard. I have concealed, overcome, and compensated for any weakness with strength. As a child I learned the ways of "The Lord of the Flies". Sruthi hated the Nietszchean philosophy I identified with and my bullying in high school. She thought my aggression was abhorrent and was appalled rather than entertained when I told her an amusing story where I KOed "The Beer King" at a party. Although I was very romantic and chivalrous with girls I dated, Sruthi was aghast that I could ever reprimand them. She also disdained my use of the word "slut". The feminazi apparently thought women should not be judged for their promiscuity and men should act as effeminate eunuchs. Because I refused to associate with the uneducated and stupid prisoners from the ghetto, Sruthi thought I was arrogant and rather than heroic for defending other white prisoners, she accused me of being a racist and a hater.

I was becoming not only annoyed but bored with the interviews. I was nonsocial and took little enjoyment talking over the phone. In fact, during my incarceration, I have went nearly a decade without using it. A few times I was asked if I felt excited being on the show. No, it was just another grim day in the penitentiary. How much did I really care if Reply All produced a podcast about the blog I wanted shut down? My life? Death? And how fair would it be considering Sruthi disliked me? After she seemed to be angry again, I simply didn't call her back for our next scheduled interview. Instead, I sent her an angry letter that began:  "Dear Megyn Kelly:"

Sruthi Pinnamaneni was very defensive when I eventually did get back in touch with her. She insisted that despite our political discord, it would not affect her reporting. I said, "What about your Marxist overlords?"  Since I began talking with Sruthi, I had finally been sent some background information about the people at Reply All. A few of them were further to the left than her. In fact, I imagined they idololized the likes of Lenin, Trotsky, and Karl Marx. On the phone, I was disparaging in other ways and Sruthi warned me not to say such things when she was in the studio, although part of what I said was in jest.

Sruthi very much wanted to do a podcast on my case. I had already assumed she did:  the Palatine Massacre, a double murder trial, one man freed another condemned to an eternity in prison for purportedly lending his car....  It would be a much more captivating story than my blog or obituary. I agreed to continue to be candidly honest and open to any questions. I assisted her in gaining documents and contact information of both friends and foe. Reply All also had my approval to be as racy and melodramatic as they wanted. Make a riveting story, I told Sruthi. However, I just ask three things: be fair, objective, and truthful. In episode 4, all these ground rules were broken.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Paul's Response to the Podcasts - Part 1

Reply All was a small upstart podcast program that premiered in 2014. The ratings were poor and producers struggled to increase the show's audience. I received overtures from the podcast as well as a few others and ignored them until Sruthi Pinnamaneni sent me a letter in mid-2015.  I appreciate people who take the time to write me directly at the penitentiary and will almost always respond. Sruthi initially came across as a genuinely nice person seeking an interview about my life and blog. The blog was supposed to be extinguished as my life had been long ago yet many people continued to express an interest in hearing those death knells. Thus, for blog readers and to some extent myself, I thought an obituary was in order. Although I was aware Reply All was produced by amateurs eager for media recognition, I did not expect the podcast to slip into tabloid journalism nor a malicious attack on my innocence.

Towards the end of my blog writing, I was informed a few radio broadcasts were interested in speaking with me. I inquired if any of them were Rush Limbaugh.  No, none of them were my favorite and most listened to conservative talk show in America. Unfortunately, they were all liberal news programs with niche or minuscule audiences. I had no interest in being a guest caller or the subject matter of a left-wing radio broadcast that I had never heard of. Eventually, however, I was told National Public Radio wanted to interview me for a show.  NPR is a station which can be heard across most of the country. It has a liberal slant, however, due to public funding has some programs which are objective and or just meant to be informative. Under those circumstances, I was open to being on their show.

In July of 2015, I received a letter from Sruthi. She introduced herself as a reporter for Reply All. She mentioned that a couple of people who work with her formerly worked on another show at NPR. She provided a phone number and said a prepaid account had already been established. I rarely listen to NPR and spent the next couple months trying to find the time her program was being broadcast so I could assess the quality, subject matters, and slant of the shows, if any. I tuned in days and nights at various hours, but found nothing. My cellmate stayed up very late watching television and I asked him to tune in periodically. He told me none of the shows introduced themselves as Reply All or were hosted by any of the names I gave him. I began to wonder what obscure time or day this broadcast was transmitted and if it ever was transmitted on the Chicago area affiliate.

It was autumn when I eventually spoke with Sruthi Pinnamaneni. Unbeknownst to me, the business card she sent had her own cell phone number on it and she asked if I could call her back at the studio. I informed her that this would necessitate having the new number approved and then entered into the prison's collect call system provider. She then would have to set up a new prepaid account with Securus. Instead, we just spoke on her cell phone and this is when I first learned she was not a reporter or host of a NPR program. In fact, her show was not even broadcast on the radio but the Internet. I had never heard of a podcast before and she had to explain it. Later, I asked a guard if he ever heard of a podcast. He said yes, but never listened to any. They were a low budget way for anyone to gain a public audience. My cellmate commented that the "news reporter" may actually be a pretender operating out of her basement. Maybe, he jested, she was just a blog fan.

In my subsequent conversations with Sruthi, I did sense she was intrigued by my blog. We spoke at length about how it was created, some of the posts and why I wrote them, as well as why I ceased to write them. She was very friendly and I liked to occasionally joke with her although she often missed my flat humor. I sensed the host of Reply All was an amateur and did not quite know what would be the focus of her narrative. I agreed to work with her to produce one half-hour program about the blog that would also lightly cover my life and injustice. Somewhere along the line, she or her colleagues at Reply All had different ideas. Possibly, their objective was malicious from the beginning.

With a name like Sruthi Pinnamaneni, I knew she was an East Indian before I called her. I was surprised when she didn't have that unique accent I encountered before my arrest when 7-11 employees took my order and inquired if I wanted a Slurpy. She said the reason she was without an accent was because she wasn't an East Indian but a South Indian. Sruthi was from Hyderabad, India. I never heard of anyone claim to be a South Indian and it amused me. In the U.S. there are only American Indians or Eastern Indians. This is how Americans distinguish between the natives and those actually from India. In jest, I inquired if she was a South American native. Maybe, I mused, she was a descendant of the Inca peoples. From then on I referred to her as a South Indian and that is where the short clip of me saying she was a South Indian socialist and Gandhi supporter in the first episode came from.

Most of our conversations occurred during the early part of the tumultuous Republican presidential primary. Much to Sruthi's displeasure, I spoke glowingly of Donald Trump. The style and messaging of his campaign was phenomenal.  It was not that of a polished career politician, but unfiltered, bold, and nationalistic. He exuded strength and leadership. His business acumen was also in dire need in the U.S.  Barack Obama's 8 year tenure had doubled the debt and led to anemic economic growth. America had the lowest workforce participation rate since the Great Depression and those with jobs had seen wages decline. In contrast, Donald Trump had turned a million dollars into over a billion dollar real estate empire. He also had a unique and brilliant prescription for decreased employment and earnings. All the Republican candidates supported lower taxes and government, however, Trump saw how international free trade agreements were harmful. He advocated for better trade agreements which put America and American workers first. The disaster of a Obama-Clinton foreign policy was obvious to all Republicans. Yet, again, Donald Trump deviated from the pack. He sought a policy where America's military and alliance network served real politik interests. Finally, Trump unabashedly rejected an open-borders cosmopolitan state overrun by foreigners, drugs, and terrorism. To me, the most dangerous existential threat to the U.S. is not Russia, China, N. Korea, or ISIS. It is the crumbling of the racial and cultural center of America. A house divided cannot stand. "Make America great again" is a powerfully appealing motto.

Sruthi Pinnamaneni loathed Donald Trump. She is a left-wing liberal who had spent most of her career advocating when possible for socialist and humanitarian causes. She was born in India but had traveled a lot eventually finding comfort in the polygot metropolis of New York City. She is a globalist and fails to see the importance of national sovereignty or U.S. exceptionalism. In fact, she once told me she thinks of all borders around the world as lines in the sand. Compare this with "I'm building a wall!" or Donald Trump's immigration stance which the East Indian reporter could be directly affected by. She is not a U.S. citizen and has two anchor babies. The podcast briefly mentions our political discourse, however, there were a number of heated arguments which at times led to her bitterly ending the conversation.

Considering Sruthi Pinnamaneni was creating the podcast, people may think it was unwise or even foolish for me to have such abrasive debates. However, I am not good at being anyone except my authentic self. As is mentioned in episode 1 of the podcast, I find most people as duplicitous. In contrast, I don't put on facades. Sruthi wanted a story about the blog and the blog is me and a quintessential part of me is my politics. I grew up fondly in the era of Ronald Reagan and quickly became a staunch paleoconservative. I believe strongly in rugged individualism, liberty, and nationalism. In my first and only election, I voted for the anti-establishment businessman Ross Perot over George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton because of his economic and America 1st messaging including his vehement opposition to NAFTA. Jeb Bush has been rejected and Americans have a chance to choose another Clinton or a new path. It is a monumental decision in the fate of this nation and more important I thought than my blog. Later, however, Reply All would change its focus to my criminal conviction.
To be continued.....

Saturday, May 7, 2016

UPDATE

For quite some time, Gimlet Media has been working on a podcast that will highlight what has happened to Paul.  Dozens of people have been interviewed and hundreds of documents have been scrutinized and/or analyzed.  

The program is called Reply All.  

The report will air in several parts--the first will be aired Wednesday, May 11th.  Keep checking the website for the times and dates of each episode:  

         https://gimletmedia.com/show/reply-all/  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My Last Post -- January 17, 2015

My 40th birthday was a turning point in my life. No longer can I dwell on memories of the past and pretend I can return to them. It is impossible that I could ever begin where I left off over two decades ago. The world has changed and I have aged. There was nothing I could do which could amend for the vast amount of time lost. When the last governor denied my request for clemency, it obliterated what little hope I had to make the best of the remnants of my life. An appeal will take possibly 10 years to be adjudicated, and even if it was successful, being free as an old man has little allure for me. This blog also has little more to offer and subsequently this will be my last post. It was never my intention to write indefinitely nor allow readers to watch me wither away. I only carried on writing thinking there was a minute chance I could end my story with some finality. However, I was not freed and will continue to languish in prison more than likely until my death.

Since my last post several more prisoners at Stateville have died. On December 4th, a Caucasian man was brutally beaten by his black cellmate. When medical staff removed him from the cell, he was unconscious with a cracked skull and an eye ball dangling out of the socket. The prisoner remained comatose and later died at an outside hospital. Purportedly, his cellmate, Pumpkin, killed him over a dispute regarding the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, although they had not been getting along since they were put in a cell together. Pumpkin was sent to segregation and will face murder charges, however, I doubt he cares. He was never going to be released from prison anyway.

Another prisoner who died was a fat, slovenly man most convicts referred to as Gay Ray. He had at one time been housed in the same quarter unit as I. Before he was given a lay-in tray, he could barely make it to and from the chow hall and I recall him hanging onto the cyclone fencing to keep himself from falling. Eventually, he was placed in the infirmary but apparently medical staff believed there were other prisoners who required more attention and he was sent to another quarter unit. Not long after he arrived, he suffered a heart attack and died. Medical technicians did not get to him for a long time and there is some contention he would be alive had he been kept at the infirmary. Being celled at the Health Care Unit is no guarantee of greater longevity, however, and another older prisoner with various medical problems died while there.

Of the men who died over the past month, the only one I had acquainted with was Sergeant Major. Sgt. Major was a white prisoner in his 70's who once was celled on my gallery. He was moved to X House where protective custody and inmates who are deemed as not dangerous are kept. His nickname derives from his rank in the U.S. Army before he retired. Sgt. Major was an alcoholic and was arrested a couple of times for DUI before he was in a major car wreck which killed the occupants of the other vehicle. He was sentenced to spend the rest of his days in prison and I am informed the last one was December 27th.

The spate of deaths at the penitentiary has caused some prisoners to derisively muse this was how the IDOC planned to solve the problem of overcapacity. However, deficiencies in health care have always existed. What has not existed are higher incarceration rates and elderly prisoners. There is a wider web of criminal statutes and the penalties have become much more severe. Even an 18 year old who purportedly lent his car to his roommate was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in prison despite the actual killer being acquitted by a separate jury. I still have one more chance in the courts, but when I will be able to simply file an appeal remains a big question.

There has been no progress in my request for DNA testing nor collateral appeal since I last wrote. I have not had any further contact with the lawyer or two students I met from the law school at the University of Illinois in Springfield. I assume they are working on other cases or waiting to discern if forensic evidence was preserved by the Palatine Task Force. Under law, police are required to keep and maintain the integrity of forensic evidence, but this does not always happen. As for my appeal, I have yet to discuss with Jennifer Blagg my strong disappointment with the partial rough draft she sent me. Going on 6 years, I expected a fully polished completed work raising all my issues along with supporting affidavits. I have lost faith in her competency and I question if it matters if I ever speak with her again. Without the money to hire a new attorney, I may be forced to write and file my appeal without counsel.

I was finally able to hire a private investigator. His name is John Rea and he worked on my case with trial attorneys at Jenner and Block. Thus, he already had some familiarity with the evidence and people involved. I was glad he was willing to work directly through me rather than an attorney. Many PI's will not. I was also glad he did not charge me an arm and a leg because I will be paying him without the assistance of any family members. For years, I have been slowly collecting money on my prison account. Only one of the people who read my blog has sent me a dime and it has not been easy raising the funds. Hopefully, I have enough to cover all the expenses of the P.I.  His work is essential to supporting my appeal with new evidence not available or forthcoming at my trial.

On Christmas day, I learned Governor Pat Quinn went through about 600 clemency petitions. He decided even more on New Year's Eve. I asked my mother to look on a website to see if mine had been denied yet. Apparently, though, the governor's administration had ceased printing the names of those approved or rejected. The reasoning may have been to allow people to be notified by mail or not to disclose the identity of offenders who had been pardoned of their crimes. The vast majority of people seeking a pardon were not in prison but simply wanted their criminal records expunged. I told my mother over the phone that she will just have to wait until January 12th. If I am at her door, she will know it was approved, and if not, denied.

Needless to say, the day came and went without me being released. For a fleeting moment the counselor got me excited when she yelled to me from the lower floor. It seemed as if she had something urgent to tell me. However, all she wanted to say was that she found my letter to John Rea in the mail room and had brought it to the business office for my money voucher to be processed. A month earlier I had sent the P.I. a check and was impatient for him to receive it. Giving the money voucher to the business office, however, did not mean it would be processed any time soon. In fact, a package I sent out in September requiring only postage has yet to be stamped.

On the day after the governor left office I learned on the television news that only two people of the few thousand clemency petitioners were released from prison. Tyrone Hood who was convicted of a 1993 armed robbery and murder walked out of Menard Correctional Center on Tuesday. He was not pardoned but granted a commutation of sentence from 75 years to time served and he will be on parole for 3 years. The other man was Howard Morgan who in 2005 got in a shoot out with police after he was pulled over in his car for a traffic violation. Police claim there was an argument and he went for his firearm. The police began to barrage him and his car with bullets. Morgan who had a license to carry a gun fired back and was thereafter charged with the attempted murder of 4 police officers. His sentence was also commuted to time served from 40 years. There were some indications both of the men were innocent, however, I thought the case I made to the governor was much stronger.

My mother tells me she has yet to receive a letter from the governor's office saying my petition was rejected. I do not know whether to believe her, but it could be on the way. Regardless, it is irrelevant. Even if Pat Quinn did not decide my petition and passed it off to Bruce Rauner, I do not expect him to act. Granting pardons or even commutations of sentences to prisoners convicted of murder is highly controversial. It is why all governors wait until their final day in office to make such decisions.

Bruce Rauner has wasted no time taking the reigns of power from his predecessor. Earlier this week I was even told a few people from his transition team were at the penitentiary. Their visit put fear into union bosses and high ranking correctional officers who scrambled to put on the best show possible. Rauner may not be able to shake up Springfield but the IDOC already is anticipating an earthquake. I hope he does have the courage to make the tough bold decisions Illinois so desperately needs and other politicians cower from. However, I doubt he is willing to squander any political capital on my behalf.

I may not have as yet received confirmation my clemency petition was denied, but I did receive a brief letter from the so-called "Conviction Integrity Unit." Assistant Cook County States Attorney Susan Caraher writes me: "I am in receipt of your inquiry letter requesting that the Conviction Integrity Unit review your case. Pursuant to your claim of wrongful conviction, we have examined your case. Based upon review, we have determined that your claim is without merit and does not warrant any further investigation on our part at this time." The letter does not at all surprise me. Since its inception, I have known the C.I.U. was a farce. I have written a reply asking exactly what they did to examine my case and then listed 4 pages of evidence which shows Robert Faraci killed Dean Fawcett and I did not lend my vehicle to him on the day in question. Amazing how they can come to a conclusion my claim is without merit having not spoken to a single person. I will request my reply to her be published under the post "An Open Letter to Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez" when I am able to make copies.

It is readily apparent to me that I will not be released any time soon and will most likely die in prison. From my very first post I had no intentions to continue writing indefinitely. In fact, after 5 years had passed, I was going to put my pen down, but with my clemency petition still pending and my belief Governor Quinn would not have another term in office, I thought I may as well see it out. Had Quinn granted me a pardon or a sentence reduction, I could have written my final post from home. Regular readers probably would have been satisfied with this conclusion. Unfortunately, this is not a movie with a happy ending.

The purpose of this blog was to give readers a little peak into my life inside these prison walls. I believe I have done this and more. Towards the end, the subject matter even occasionally diverged because I had run out of new ideas. My life is mainly spent in a cell and because I am not a social person, it is even more insular. There is probably a greater range of prison topics and stories a more outgoing convict could have written about. However, that is not who I am. In fact, sharing my experiences, observations and thoughts with strangers around the world is opposite to my natural disposition. Furthermore I absolutely loathe my life and having to think and write about it weekly only made me more miserable.

Readers probably do not realize the amount of time and effort that has gone into "On the Inside." All my posts are hand written on paper. I must print neatly and avoid corrections. Recently I began using a pen because pencil sharpeners are not allowed. When I make a mistake, I must start over with a fresh page of paper or use white acrylic paint to wipe out words. The stories I write are folded and placed in a numbered envelope to be mailed. All posts are numbered to keep track of them as well as to dissuade prison staff from destroying them. For periods of time I had to write duplicates because my letters were disappearing. At Stateville, the mail room is incredibly slow and my posts can take a month or longer to reach the person who reads, types and posts them. As traffic to the blog increased, so has the number of comments and emails. I wanted the site to be interactive as much as possible and therefore those messages are printed and sent to me via mail whereupon I will respond in writing only for it to need to be mailed back and then typed and posted. There is various computer related work which must be done to maintain the blog. I cannot even explain because the Internet did not exist when I was arrested. I was spending occasionally 3 days a week devoted to the blog and it is time for me and those who assist me to move on.

With my free time, I will be working on my appeal. I will be keeping in contact with the private investigator and providing him with information. The evidence he is able to procure will be used in crafting a successive post conviction petition. The petition will have a statement of fact and at least 50 pages of argument. To supplement the arguments, I will need not only evidence but law. I have already done a lot of research, however, my time spent at the prison library will increase and I may begin going on an almost weekly basis excluding lockdown periods. The blog never assisted in gaining my freedom. It was only a diversion. I must use my time more wisely or I will never see justice.

In the movie "Gladiator," Russel Crowe plays a character whose entire life is torn from him. He was a commander of a Roman army, however, after the emperor was murdered by his own son, he was sent out in the woods to be executed. Maximus escapes his executioners and races to save his family. He was too late and both his wife and son were dead. The republic he believed in was dead. His status as general was dead. His entire purpose for living was dead and therefore with a broken heart he just laid there waiting to die himself. Eventually, travelers find him and make him a slave. He is forced to fight as a gladiator and fight he does until he has slaughtered hundreds. His master brings him to the Roman Coliseum where he is told he can win his freedom. Maximus does not care about freedom anymore, though, only to kill the new emperor who took everything worth living for from him. Upon meeting his nemesis, he says, "I will have my justice in this life or the next." And that is all I care about anymore as well. I may be an old crippled man when I am freed with nothing to live for, but I will have justice.

This is my final post and I say farewell to all those who have followed my blog. I hope to have given some insight into the dark realms inside the criminal justice and prison system. If nothing else I hope my stories have been entertaining. I will continue to respond to some comments and emails for a few months. During this time I will also be looking to maintain contact with a few readers on a personal level. I do not currently have any pen pals, but if anyone is interested in corresponding regularly, I encourage them to send me a letter introducing themselves. It may become lonely at times in these dreary dungeons. My time on the Internet must come to an end just as my liberty and life for all practical purposes ended on April 28, 1993.

Update  (April 2015)

Paul's clemency petition was denied by former Governor Pat Quinn on Christmas Eve. The letter was received by his parents after this post was written. Paul continues to work on his post conviction appeal and seek out new legal counsel. He will also file a 6th Clemency Petition in 2016 with the Rauner administration. Hopefully, his suffering in prison will not be indefinite.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Palatine Massacre: 20 Years Later -- January 11, 2013

EDITOR NOTE:  Paul wrote this a few years ago, but due to his lawyer's objections it was never published.  Several readers have questioned how Paul's trial and most likely some of his jurors were influenced by the infamous Brown's Chicken Restaurant murders. The perpetrators of those horrible crimes had not been caught at the time of Paul's trial in 1995. This post provides the details and answers their questions. Because Paul feels he must now devote all his time to writing his own post conviction appeal, we thought it would be a good time to post this (some last names have been omitted for legal reasons):

On January 8, 1993, seven people were brutally murdered at a Brown's Chicken and Pasta restaurant in Palatine, Illinois. The mass murder created a frenzy of intense media coverage which in turn put enormous pressure on police to solve the crime. A few months later when my former roommate was arrested for a murder in Barrington, he conspired with his wife to frame me for the murder along with the massacre in Palatine. Their statements to police were inconsistent and not believable, but this was an opportunity authorities could not pass up. I was a perfect scapegoat to offer the public and the news media immediately took the bait reporting almost ceaselessly about my suspicion in the mass murder. Television news was the worst with the most hyped, sensationalistic, and biased coverage despite how I was never charged with the Palatine murders. Before my trial, Rose admitted she and her husband were lying, but this was largely ignored by the media and state prosecutors who had already politically committed themselves. Instead of dropping the charges, the prosecutor simply changed theories and at trial argued my guilt in the Fawcett murder through a theory of accountability. The trial testimony supporting this theory was false, but my defense attorney failed to contest it choosing rather to spar with the prosecutor over the law. Due to this failure and almost certainly the cloud of suspicion in the Palatine Massacre, I was found guilty. Twenty years after the mass murder, I continue to brood about the set of events which led me to be connected to the crime. I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole even after the person who tried to frame me was acquitted by another jury.

The day after the Palatine Brown's Chicken murders, I recall television news was pervasively covering the crime. I did not watch any of the reporting, but Robert was fascinated by the breaking news. He talked on and on about what was being reported and attempted to get my interest. When I did not come over to the television in the living room, he commented this was a huge story I was missing. There had not been a mass murder like this in the Chicagoland area since the Valentine's Day Massacre. It figured my wannabe mafia friend would connect the two crimes, although I did not see any similarities except for the body count. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre was an assassination of a rival gang with Tommy Guns ordered by Al Capone during the prohibition era which thereafter gave him control of the city's underworld. The Palatine Massacre was apparently a robbery gone awry or thrill killing at a chicken restaurant. I had other things to do and could care less about the crime despite how it seemed to have my friend and the Chicago metro area riveted. Little did I know Robert would later use the mass murder to deflect attention away from his murder of Dean Fawcett and as a possible bargaining chip.

Rose traveled by plane to Florida the day after the Palatine massacre and the following week Bob and I drove to Clearwater. The coincidence of our relocation later gave the impression we were fleeing from the mass murder or murder of Fawcett. However, this could not be further from the truth. Fawcett's body had not been found yet alone identified or considered a homicide. I tend to believe Bob thought he had committed the perfect crime and there would never be an ID of the victim who was dismembered after he was apparently shot. Months later while seeing Bob's arrest on television, I recalled how he had read a book about mafia killings. The bodies were sometimes disposed of so they were never found or identified. The victims just disappeared or were "Houdinied". One story he told me about pertained to Hell's Kitchen, a very violent neighborhood in New York City controlled by the Irish Mafia where bodies were occasionally found missing their heads and hands. A film called "State of Grace" with actor Sean Penn was later made about the mafia controlled area.

The landlord of the Schiller Park apartment was in eviction proceedings before I moved in with them just after my 18th birthday. The judge gave them until January 15th to leave but long before this they were planning to relocate. I think they initially were just going to find another place in the NW suburbs of Chicago, but they began to have troubles with the network of organized crime amongst Italians in the area. Bob married Rosalia who was born in Sicily purely for her family’s connections to the mafia. This strategy seemed to be working out well for him initially, however, their relations in late 1992 began to sour. Bob did not like being a lackey and increasingly bumped heads with those in the syndicate. He even robbed a high stakes poker game and shot an Italian man who refused to turn over his money. People tend to think I knew all about my co-defendant's activities, but this is false. He kept a lot of secrets from me and it was only by accident that I learned about the robbery. A mutual friend of ours was furious Bob never returned his little brother's shoes he borrowed. The friend did not care if he had gotten blood all over them from the shooting and said he should have bought him a new pair after disposing of the shoes. It was amusing they were arguing about a pair of gym shoes while the shooting was irrelevant.

On the evening of the Palatine Massacre, Rose's family had plans to come over to the apartment to say farewell before she moved to Florida. Rose's family did not know I was living with the couple so we hid all my belongings so they would never be the wiser. Rose's parents were from the old country and would be stunned if she was living with two men, even if I was just a friend. Thus, when they arrived, I went out the back door to the parking lot. Robert felt bad about kicking me out and thus met me at the other door and pretended like I had just arrived to visit them. He invited me in and introduced me to his wife's family. They were very warm and friendly, but I did not intend to stay and listen to them talk in Italian. I had already made plans to go the movie theater.

I remember after my arrest the police trying to figure out if I had an alibi. Mostly, I believe it was the media because I do not believe the police ever thought that Robert and Rose were telling the truth. My alibi for the time period when seven people were murdered at the Brown's Chicken restaurant was not a good one because I could not prove it and no one accompanied me to the theater. Furthermore, while my roommates knew where I was going, they were the ones trying to frame me. In any event, I watched the film "Leprechaun" until I could watch no more of the stupid horror movie. I thought the Cineplex owed me a refund or at least another movie and consequently went to another theater and watched "Bram Stoker's Dracula." It was the best vampire movie I ever had seen and satisfied I returned to the apartment. Rose's family was gone by then.

The day after the murders, Rose traveled by plane from O'Hare Airport to Florida where she stayed with her cousin Ralph and his family while she looked for an apartment. I was not too enthusiastic about living with them and it was only meant to be temporary. However, both Rose and Robert wanted me to join them. I was even told that Rose's cousin owned a cabinet manufacturing company where I could work at least until I found something better or while I attended college. I had spent part of 1992 working for Sacco, a kitchen cabinet manufacturer in Frankfort, Illinois and because I knew all about the business Ralph would be glad if I was an employee. During the week before Rose left, Rose and I collected cardboard boxes from local grocery stores to pack all our possessions. Although Rose was flying, Bob and I were driving. I drove a U-Haul truck and towed my car behind while Bob followed in his Pontiac Firebird. We left three days before the body of Dean Fawcett was found. Unlike the couple I shared an apartment with, I was not aware he had been killed.

Rose found a new apartment quickly with the assistance of her cousin in Clearwater. She called her husband to ask what my last name was so she could fill out the lease agreement. As a prank, he told her "Himmler," and Rose being oblivious of the practical joke and only knowing me by the name Viktor told the new landlords my name was Viktor Himlor. The lease was already made out by the time I got there so I felt I had to go along with the alias. I also had to pack most of the remaining property because Bob was lazy. A day or two before we left I learned of his plan to drive across half the country with loaded firearms kept casually in his car. This was moronic or reckless in my opinion so I packed these along with other belongings in the truck. The prosecutor made a big issue of this at my trial, however, I had no idea if any of them were used in the murder of Fawcett. I tend to believe the murder weapon was quickly disposed of by my co-defendant.

While in Florida, Robert began to work at a newspaper/magazine store partly owned by John Fain.  Robert led John to believe he was going to take over Nicholaus C’s half. Nick wanted out of the business and Robert would then be John’s new partner.  Initially Bob had intentions of turning the place into an adult book store. However, when he learned only a quarter of the store could be used to shelf pornography, he lost most of his interest. Bob was lazy and increasingly I did most of the work. John Fain did not personally like me and at trial he made disparaging character inferences such as I was “cold and aloof” and “did not speak much at all.” My attorney was angry and objected to his comments about me, so the judge told the jury to disregard those comments because they were not facts but opinions. Then John surprisingly testified that we offered to sell him a gun like one of his. On cross examination, my attorney asked him why he had not mentioned this to Officers Koziol and Robertson when they traveled to Florida to interview him in 1993, or the following year when he was interviewed by the defense investigator who contacted him by phone.  John said he just didn’t “recall the whole conversation.”

After visiting Las Vegas, Robert and Rose returned to the Chicago area. Although I had ceased to live with the couple, I assume Bob who was a gambling fanatic blew away all of their savings and they had to fall back on family and friends in their old neighborhood. However, for the couple this meant resolving issues with organized crime. Rose went to an intermediary she knew and asked him what could be done. Richard L. said he would try to smooth things out including checks they had used to defraud Italian businesses. At some point, Rose also asked if the private investigator could find out if her husband was suspected in any murder(s).  Little did Rose know her friend was now an informant and although Robert quickly went into damage control, the police were quickly involved, particularly after the mention of the Palatine mass murders.

They were arrested on the 22nd of April after leaving a restaurant with some friends. They both tried framing me and Brian Palasz for the Barrington murder. However, most tragically for me were their assertions that I committed the Palatine massacre. Both of them made up detailed stories incriminating me in the mass murder. Rose said that on the night of January 8th she found a bloody glove of mine in a garbage can. Robert alleged on the trip to Florida when we stopped at a gas station I commented how it looked just like the restaurant I robbed. Amongst these accusations they even said at one point that Bob was driving by the place when I told him to stop so I could get take out. Moments later he said he heard gun shots and screams. Robert took a polygraph test regarding his accusations against me in both the Fawcett and Palatine murders and not surprising to the police, he failed. Bob was an expert con artist, but his lies to professional law enforcement were met with great skepticism if not total disbelief.

On the 28th of April, I was arrested by numerous heavily armed police. They seemed just as willing to shoot me dead and claim the mass murder case was closed as in taking me in for questioning. Although I had nothing to do with the murders, I was not talking to them without an attorney and immediately asked for one as I was being yanked out of my car and thrown face down on the asphalt of Archer Avenue in Chicago. However, police had no intention of adhering to my Miranda rights and I endured hours upon hours of intimidation, threats, and physical abuse. Eventually, I made a few comments to my interrogators which were largely twisted later and became the basis of the prosecution's theory of accountability. John Robertson fabricated a story of how while armed with a firearm Robert told me he was going to kill Dean Fawcett and asked to borrow my car. Although I was grilled about the Barrington murder for two days, only a couple of questions relevant to the Palatine case were asked. I remember toward the end of my interrogation John Koziol asked me if I had anything to say about the mass murder. I ignored him like I did most of the time. He said something like "Oh, come on. You can't even answer whether or not you killed those people at the restaurant?" Finally, with him starring me down, I said, "Fine. I did not do it."

The police arrested a former employee of the Brown's Chicken restaurant the day after the crime. His name was Martin Blake and he was interrogated until the 11th of January. According to Blake's subsequent lawsuit and testimony at a pre-trial motion of mine, his Miranda rights were violated and he was held incommunicado. He also accused the police of not providing him with proper food, drink, or access to bathroom facilities as well as unlawful arrest. Although the Palatine police knee jerk reaction would end up costing the village an undisclosed settlement, police were correct in their instincts. A former employee was involved in the mass murder.

Juan Luna had worked at the fast food restaurant, but because a woman provided him with a false alibi, police did not pursue him as a suspect. It was not until nearly ten years later that he was looked at again. Anne Lockett along with Eileen Bakula finally came forward to tell police they had been with Luna and James Degorski immediately after the murders. The two said the alibi was fiction and the two men had discussed the crime in detail with them, including a never before released bit of information that one of the victims vomited french fries. They showed the women the money they had stolen and gave them a portion of it. Later they were driven to the crime scene which was then surrounded by police and ambulances. With so many leads that turned out to be false, the police were still not ready to arrest the two. Instead, they had Anne call James Degorski and tape recorded him admitting to the false alibi of his friend Juan Luna as well as other incriminating statements. Finally, police who had kept the last meal ordered compared DNA with that of Luna. It was a match and the Palatine Task Force made their arrests in the mass murder.

Both Juan Luna and James Degorski made confessions to police. The former even made one which was videotaped and he described in detail the crime. According to Luna, they forced the owners to open up a safe and after gaining the money began to kill everyone in the restaurant. Degorski fired most of the shots killing the employees using a 38 caliber revolver which was reloaded. In the frenzy of the moment, Luna admitted to slitting the throat of one of the owners of the restaurant. Because he had worked at the place, he knew the best time to rob the restaurant would be at closing time. He had jammed the back door so no one could get out, and he knew he would be let in because the owners and workers knew him. The place was cleaned up after the murders, but Luna thought nothing of the chicken he ate and threw the bones and partially eaten pieces into a garbage bin along with the napkin he wiped his hands on leaving further evidence behind.

Five years after their arrest, Juan Luna was finally tried and convicted of the mass murder. In 2009, James Degorski was convicted also. Both men avoided the death penalty due to a single hold out in their juries. It would not have mattered anyway since the death penalty was abolished in Illinois a couple of years ago. Juan Luna, who initially asked for protective custody, now resides at Stateville and I have seen the vermin a number of times particularly when I lived in the Roundhouse where he was a cell house worker. Initially, he was given a detail in the prison's Health Care Unit, but nurses complained about the threat to their safety. Although I think the cowardly little man is no danger, medical staff thought otherwise. A number of times I have considered clobbering the thrill killer who I blame in part for my prosecution and conviction. However, there are so many prisoners at Stateville with disdainful crimes and it would be absurd of me to expect him to turn himself in to prevent my injustice. Furthermore, it was my friend along with his wife who made up the stories making me a suspect in the crime.

James Degorski was sent to Menard C.C. and although I have met his trial attorneys, I have never met him. I spoke with his lawyers about the denial of my Miranda rights and abuse by my two interrogating officers as well as Robertson's manipulation and fabrication of my statements. Degorski had made claims of police abuse and although I have no affinity for him or his crime, I wanted him to be tried and convicted fairly. My parents told me not to talk to his attorneys because they did not want me to help in his defense and thought possibly the lawyers could use me as an alternative suspect. However, I had no such concerns and in fact would relish the opportunity to testify about the lies of Robertson and how I was used as a scapegoat by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office who would ironically have to defend me to protect their interests in convicting Degorski.

There is no doubt in my mind my suspicion in the Brown's Chicken murders affected my arrest, prosecution, conviction and sentence to natural life without parole. I blame less the perpetrators of the horrific crime than those who accused me of it. Had Robert and Rose not conspired to frame me of the mass murder, nearly everything would have been different. The over 100 strong Palatine Task Force under tremendous pressure by the state's attorney's office and media would have not been involved. Instead, detectives from the small town of Barrington would be in charge of the investigation. Those police would not have questioned me after I requested an attorney, and had no reason to violate my Miranda rights or manipulate anything I said.  Had I still been charged with murder, after Rose admitted she and her husband lied to prevent him from going back to prison the state would have dropped the charges against me. Even had the state's attorney not, there is little chance a jury would have convicted me on what amounts to guilt by association. A judge also would have been under no political pressure to sentence me to life in prison without a possibility of parole particularly when the actual killer was acquitted. He may have even had the courage to grant a direct verdict or overturn any jury's conviction. My life would have been radically different these last 20 years if not for the false accusations in the Palatine Massacre. All I can do now is hope the courts or the governor intervene on my behalf.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Dead Man's Boots -- November 30, 2014

Today I mourn my 40th birthday. Since 18, I have languished in the maximum security prisons of Illinois. During this time all my dreams, hopes, and aspirations have faded away. Everything, in fact, I once valued is gone. Regularly, I try to recall the past when my life had meaning, but those memories are blotted out by stark reality. There is no light at the end of this tunnel only a growing black void. I never wanted to see the day my body and mind succumbed to old age and yet now I have gone the distance with nothing gained but misery, hatred, and immense sorrow. In retrospect, I wish the police would have executed me upon arrest. The judicial system is a farce and my fate was set the moment the Cook County States Attorney's Office saw the opportunity to make me a scapegoat for a massacre they could not solve. My trial attorney had a fleeting chance to unhinge the unfolding disaster, but failing I have since been the living dead. For a quarter of this time readers have been able to follow in my footsteps. However, as I lace up a dead man's boots, I intend to walk on alone.

Early last Sunday I stood at the bars watching Colin's Football Show besides my cellmate who was on the gallery with a broom in his hand. We were making our picks against the spread and wanted the most recent lines. I had won predominately more games and his ability to catch up by the end of the NFL season was almost over. I jested I may just take all his teams except the Broncos to retain my lead. The Broncos were favored by a touchdown and I expected their opponent to play competitively. However, because there is no money involved and only bragging rights, I picked 10 different teams including the Buffalo Bills whose home field game was moved to Minnesota because of a blizzard of lake effect snow burying the city.

There was little joy in my life, but football Sundays occasionally provided some entertainment. Before my arrest, I played the sport for a number of years. I fancy myself that I could have excelled as a professional athlete or at least in college. However, I know that time has passed and other than Adam Vinatieri, a kicker, there is no player I am aware of in the NFL over the age of 40. Many men and women as well try to delude themselves that their age is less relevant in modern times. Advances in medicine and easier lives not to mention cosmetic surgery has certainly made people look younger or increased longevity. What it has not done, however, is increase the natural health, aptitude, beauty, or overall constitution of the species. Contrarily, I believe modern society and technology has caused its decline.

During the day, I heard it was the lieutenant's birthday. A few prisoners I knew were contemplating making him a goofy card as they do for incarcerated men. The idea "Lunchbox" had was a drawing of an obese black female guard in a string bikini giving him a lap dance. The lieutenant was in his mid-50s and will retire in a couple of years when he is able to collect a maximum pension. I have heard him talk before as if he has served a quarter century of prison time. He does not know what it is like, however, to be on the other side of these bars. He chose to work in the IDOC and has been lavishly compensated. His freedom is not restricted and he goes home at the end of his shift. I asked a guard what we were going to get the lieutenant for his birthday and he responded, "A number of thumps equal to his age." Yes, if he got this every day on the job, he may know what my suffering is like, I thought.

At night I watched the movie "Law Abiding Citizen" for the umpteenth time. This vigilante film starring Gerard Butler stirred a lot of emotions in me. A ruthless criminal breaks into Butler's home and rapes and slaughters his family, leaving him as dead. The man is arrested, but because the evidence is not presentable or strong enough to gain a conviction, the prosecutor cuts a deal with him. He will testify falsely that another person committed the crimes and in exchange he is released with time served. The person who was only present to commit a burglary thus is given the death penalty while the actual killer goes free. Butler so angry by the egregious injustice goes after not only the man who butchered his family but everyone involved in the perverse system. The rage he feels is comparable to my own except I am on the other side of the coin. It was my co-defendant who killed Dean Fawcett and when arrested he claimed I did it along with the Palatine Massacre. Unlike the movie, I was not even present nor aware of what he did yet the prosecutor was not concerned with truth or justice. He was only concerned about politics and convictions especially one against a person the public was led to believe killed 7 people at a Brown's Chicken restaurant. The Cook County State's Attorney's Office even sought my execution after Robert Faraci was acquitted, however, the judge gave me an even worse punishment: life in prison without the possibility of parole.

I awakened Monday morning to the bang of my cell door being slammed shut. Anthony was let out to begin his menial labor in the unit and I was alone. It was nice to start my day without his presence and not sharing the space in the 6 x 11 foot cell for the next 6 hours. Time in the penitentiary would be much better if I did not have a cellmate and after another prisoner bumped my breakfast tray off the bars onto the floor spilling its contents I thought time would be much better if I did not have anyone to deal with. Most of my misery stemmed not from isolation but the dregs of society I was imprisoned with. After cleaning the floor I stood at the bars looking out the building. There was snow on the penitentiary grounds and it was not a winter wonderland. Nothing was wonderful about prison.

Towards noon, my cellmate asked me if I wanted an extra tray. It was soy-turkey meatballs and I declined, but asked him to heat up a bottle of water for me in the microwave so I could make my own instant meal in the cell. He told me the new sergeant does not allow cell house help to use the microwave. C House has lost both its 1st and 2nd shift sergeants in the last month. Sergeants set the tone of a unit more so than any other correction's officer because they are in command of regular day to day operations. However, since I rarely leave my cell, I have yet to notice any difference.

Like most of the prisoners at Stateville, I turned on my television to see if Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson would be indicted of any charges in the shooting of Michael Brown. Earlier in the day I had heard there would be an announcement by prosecutor Robert McCulloch while listening to the Rush Limbaugh radio talk show. However, I did not realize he would speak at length to explain the process which began on August 20th nor the grand jury's decision rejecting all 5 potential charges. Nothing he said I knew would change the minds of people who already formed an opinion. Since Brown was killed, the reporting had been heavily slanted and skewed by liberal mass media seeking not only ratings but to push their political agenda. Black activists such as Al Sharpton and the lawyer who represented the family of Treyvon Martin were given plenty of air time, however, there were few opposing views offered to the public. It was difficult simply getting objective facts while black mobs rioted in Ferguson clamoring "No justice. No peace."

Immediately upon McColloch saying there would be no charges brought against Wilson, many black prisoners at Stateville began yelling and rattling their cell bars. They continued to be upset the following day when I went out to the yard and I listened to them rant about pervasive racism in the justice system as well as elsewhere. As the only Caucasian amongst them, I felt compelled to point out I was not given a fair trial and the prosecutor and police were just as dirty if not more. I doubted anyone around me was actually innocent and yet here I was two decades later. Furthermore, the police who arrested me were looking for any excuse to shoot me dead. A dead Palatine Massacre suspect was a solved case. The police did not have to arrest me at gunpoint with overwhelming force while in my car in the middle of heavy traffic. They knew where I was living and could have executed their recently acquired warrant for missing a court date in a peaceful manner. Ironically, I wish they would have killed me because it would have spared me the farce of due process and a lifetime in the penitentiary.

A couple of convicts demurred, but most accepted what I had to say. The conversation then went from racial bias to the special treatment accorded police officers. This was the crux of the issue. Most suspects were not granted an open grand jury. In fact, it is almost unheard of that a prosecutor presents both incriminating and exculpatory evidence. They only present the former and it is not subject to any scrutiny. Even 1st degree murder charges were easily approved with a few state witnesses regardless of their credibility. It was a mere formality across the U.S., but the St. Louis County Grand Jury was in session for a month in what was almost a trial. Pigs would fly before the state's attorney would call my interrogating officer John Robertson to the stand and then say "but here's all the reasons to show he is a lying piece of shit."

Later in the day I received a few birthday cards from family members. They stupidly wished me a happy birthday despite how I was condemned to die in prison. My aunt, however, had a sardonic sense of humor and sent me a card with a picture of a smiling chimpanzee on the cover. It said, "Nephew, figured you didn't want a sentimental birthday card, so you're getting this monkey card instead." When opened, the primate popped forward with its arms out as if reaching out. The message above the monkey was, "But you're so great, even he couldn't hold back giving you a hug." The dumb humor did not amuse me until it made me correlate it with something else. I called my neighbors to their cell bars and with the card in hand so they could see it, I opened it and said, "Hands up. Don't shoot!" For almost a minute I heard them laughing.

A number of readers probably think my joke just shows how racist I am. However, it is only a reflection of themselves and how they jump to conclusions. The joke is aimed at all those chimps out there who joined protest marches denying racism in the wake of the Ferguson grand jury decision. Racism is not the reason why more black people are incarcerated, mistreated by police, or shot dead like Michael Brown. The fact is people of color are more likely to commit crimes and be involved in the criminal justice system. Their greater exposure to law enforcement and courts allows them to see how much excessive force, corruption, and injustice exists in the U.S.  America has become a police state and it does not see black, white, or brown. There is only blue and everyone else.

Thanksgiving morning I awoke in time to watch the major news stories. Holidays generally do not have any serious news reporting and there was not much to draw my interest except on the FOX network's ticker tape. It read that Governor Pat Quinn had granted 163 clemency petitions. No other information was given and thus I guessed they were all for people with minor offenses and had already completed their probation or prison time. Many people who had been swept up into the system simply just wanted their records cleared. For the governor it did not involve any potential controversy or political risk. The governor had already lost the election and will never again campaign for political office. However, there may be some things he wants to tie up with the legislature before January 12th.

Towards 9 a.m., I left the cell to get my Thanksgiving Day meal. It was one of the few days in the year that prisoners were fed well. On the serving line, kitchen workers placed turkey, pork, macaroni and cheese, and a portion of sweet potatoes and stuffing on my Styrofoam tray. At the end of the line I was given yet another tray with salad, cranberry sauce, bread, and a little wedge of cherry pie. It was enough food to feed me for the entire day as I did not plan to leave the confines of my cell again, yet I received an unexpected visitor.

Typically prisoners receive visitors from their families on Thanksgiving, but my visitor was a girl I knew in junior high. I was surprised to see Cynthia on the holiday especially after she told me she had been in the hospital for 3 days earlier in the week. She said before she was stabilized in the emergency room she thought I would have never learned what happened to her. I would have simply never received another letter or visit and would think she was just another person who had come and left over my 20 years of imprisonment. She prepaid $40 with the prison collect call phone service provider so I could reach out to her if I wanted. It seemed like she wanted to keep in contact or possibly develop some type of relationship, but for what reason I did not know. I was condemned to die in prison and with the passage of time she would eventually fade away like everything else in my life. There were some more deeper issues I wanted to discuss with her, however, it would have to be done another day. Visiting on holidays was limited to one hour. She asked if she could come back on my birthday. That was a horrible idea I thought. Do not come on my birthday, I told her. It was only a day of sorrow.

On Thanksgiving and Christmas, prisoners bring their food back to their cells. This saves time and allows men to eat at their leisure. To keep my food warm, I had wrapped the tray in a wool blanket. Even after I returned from my visit in the mid-afternoon, the heat had not escaped. Unlike the food served most of the year which a dog may sniff and turn away from, the lunch on Thanksgiving is rather good. However, it did little to change my overall misery.

I did not watch any of the NFL games on Thursday. However, before I went to sleep, my cellmate informed me I had won all 3 against the spread. Yes, I was just a big winner, I said to him. This makes up for the 22 years of my life which has been taken from me. I have turkey, stuffing, cherry pie, and I even beat the casinos in Las Vegas. I am really cashing it in. Just as Richard Speck bragged, I have never had it so good. Anthony was not in the IDOC when the serial killer's video tape was made public. While at Stateville, Speck was filmed drinking, doing an assortment of drugs, and engaging in homosexual activity. The partying and debauchery the man who brutally killed several nurses was having enraged people outside the prison walls who thought he was doing hard time. Although the tape was made years before, when it was released in 1997, it was yet another impetuous for change in the IDOC. Well, the people of Illinois can rest easy now. Everyone is suffering in prison, including the innocent. Trying to fall asleep, I counted the numerous ways I could kill myself. Some people count sheep, but I think of a hundred ways to die.

As she promised, Cynthia came to the penitentiary to see me again the following day. However, once again there was a one hour time limit and the visiting room was packed. It was so noisy at times it was difficult having a conversation. I was not aware old television news archives were available to the public, but apparently they are. Cindy spoke about watching coverage after my arrest in 1993. She said the media tried and convicted me well before I had my day in court. I missed a lot of it while in the Cook County Jail, but knew how heavily biased and incendiary the television news was. In my jury pool were a number of people who openly admitted they could not be fair and thought I killed the employees at the Brown's Chicken Restaurant in Palatine.

I asked Cynthia why she did not create a petition on Change.org nor help me with finding a lawyer or private investigator. She said based upon what one lawyer told her and all the vast negative news reporting, she thought my situation was hopeless. Despite the Palatine Massacre being solved and evidence I had showing my innocence in the Fawcett murder, it was highly unlikely the governor would grant me a pardon. There also was little chance the courts would reverse my conviction, at least any time soon. If this was the way she felt, I wondered why she bothered visiting a dead man. Was it out of pity? I did not want anyone's pity and in the little time we had, I tried to ascertain if there was a purpose to stay in contact with her.

After my visit, I waited in a hallway off of Gate 5 with a crowd of other prisoners. One of the men I recognized despite how greatly he had aged over the years. His hair had thinned to almost nothing, there were dark circles under his eyes, and he was gaunt with wrinkled skin. It seemed like Death was knocking on his door and I asked him if we were all going to die in here. He surprised me by saying his appeal had recently been remanded for a new trial. A recantation from a witness and some other exculpatory evidence had convinced an appellate court to finally overturn his conviction.  He was now waiting to see if the Cook County States Attorney's Office would fight him tooth and nail over the past decade was going to drop the charges, re-prosecute him, or offer him a cop out of time served. He had already served 29 years and tended to believe the D.A. would not want to spend the money for another trial. In my mind I thought about how long it would take me to file my appeal and if it would also be argued over for 10 years. The idea of being released after my 50th birthday left me with a sense of dread.

In the cellhouse, I stopped at my neighbor's cell to speak to Hooch. Hooch had also been in prison since the mid-1980's and knew the man who had recently been ordered a new trial. While talking with my neighbor, I noticed he had a new pair of boots and inquired about the ones he kept in his box but never wore. The other boots, unlike the cheap products occasionally sold or given out by the IDOC, were of high quality and made of suede and not synthetic materials. I never saw a pair like them and offered to buy the shoes. Hooch told me he could never part with the boots because they had belonged to John Piggot, or Doc as most prisoners knew him as. Doc had served nearly 40 years for a string of robberies in the 1970's before he finally died last year. When he knew his time was near, he gave away his most valuable possessions including his black suede boots.

In my cell, I received another birthday card. This one was from my sister who I had not seen or spoke to in nearly 2 years. Unlike the stupidly cheerful ones I received earlier in the week or the goofy one sent by my aunt, this card was gloomy. On the front cover was a wood dock ending abruptly to a still lake at dusk. In the distance was a man alone in a row boat. The dock reminded me of a plank on a pirate's ship which the condemned were forced to walk. The row boat conjured up images of a lonely old man in his twilight years or the scene in the movie "The Godfather" where Michael Corleone has his brother executed while out fishing.

Yesterday the big news in the cell block was Big John returning from work and requesting Protective Custody. While he was packing up his property, my cellmate stopped to speak with him, but he would not say why he was concerned for his safety. Steve also saw him outside when he was morosely pushing his cart of belongings to X House. John would not even look up and ignored him. A secret is difficult to keep, however, at Stateville and by dinner I was told that word had gotten out that he was a former cop. This was false and he was actually a former guard at the Cook County Jail. To some convicts including KY, it did not matter. Cops, guards, or anyone involved in law enforcement was despised and considered the enemy. I hated the emergence of the police state as well as the prison industrial complex. This oppressive and corrupt system of government needed to be dismantled. Despite this, I did not hate all those who worked within it, and in fact I had known John was a former guard for a long time but I got along well with him.

As I was writing this post, my neighbor passed over the suede boots for me to have on my birthday. They fit rather well and I paced the cell several times wearing them. I do not know where Doc got the shoes and they may never have been sold in the IDOC. Hooch did not explain why he changed his mind, but I tend to think he was in essence passing the mantel onto me. Doc had done nearly four decades in prison and I will probably do that and more before I pass away. I was arrested when I was 18 and this was the 22nd birthday I've had since being incarcerated. At the age of 40, I could probably languish in prison for over a half century if I did not commit suicide. In the minute chance I am freed, I think Doc would be happy to know that although he never made it out, his shoes did.

Readers have followed my stories at the maximum security penitentiary, Stateville, for over 5 years. I never intended to write until I keeled over an old, decrepit and defeated man. As my 40th birthday has approached, I have increasingly lost interest in sharing my life, or more accurately my death, with the public. After Governor Pat Quinn leaves office, I may cease writing for this blog. Regardless if he grants my request for executive clemency or not, there is no happy ending to this story. Either way, I will be walking in a dead man's boots.