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Sunday, May 15, 2011

18 Years of Captivity -- April 30, 2011

On April 28, 1993, I was arrested by numerous gun-wielding Palatine Task Force police and FBI agents. Despite immediately asking for a lawyer, for the next two days I was relentlessly interrogated. My interrogators used intimidation, threats, deceit, and physical abuse in attempts to get me to talk and make an incriminating statement. When none of this worked, John Robertson, who was at the time an investigator for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, simply made one up. I can understand the rough and illegal tactics of my interrogators hoping to solve a mass murder. However, what I will always be enormously bitter about is Robertson's fabrication of evidence. I will never forget April 28, 1993, the day my life effectively ended.

As always, I begin my day eating breakfast and watching the morning news programs. On the news today were reports of the severe weather that covered much of the southern U.S. the night before. About 170 tornadoes were reported, with just as many casualties. A number of homes were destroyed, even entire towns. I looked out my cell window and noticed the dark clouds. I was glad the sky was dark and gloomy. It was appropriate for the day I died 18 years ago.

Also in the news was the continuing coverage of the British Royal wedding. The news has been on TV for weeks, and I was growing annoyed with it. There are so many other important matters the news media should be talking about. I did not understand the fascination in America with the wedding. I thought our country's military efforts in the Middle East, the President's foolish energy policies, the impending breach of the government's debt ceiling at over $14 trillion, and numerous other subjects were more important. What brooded on my mind the most, however, was the ticker tape which continually went across the screen stating it was April 28, 2011.

It was a sunny day when I was driving my Ford Mustang 18 years ago, with my cousin and his friend. My cousin and I were doing some rehab work on a house for some extra money. We had stopped for lunch, and on the way back home met his friend who needed a ride. That was fine, I said, and my cousin opened the door and leaned forward so Scott could get into the back seat. I bet he later regretted asking me for a ride.

The world and national news is occasionally interrupted by local news. Mostly I was interested in the weather as I could determine what to wear for my yard time. In between weather and traffic was a short segment about Governor Quinn wanting to borrow $8 billion to close some of the state's massive debt and fiscal problems. It angered me that the Governor, like many other Democrats including the President, sought to borrow more and more money, and also raise taxes instead of cutting spending. There are a number of places Governor Pat Quinn could cut spending, as the state's comptroller, Judy Barr Topinka, has pointed out, but as an inmate that has done almost two decades for a crime he did not commit, I thought about the prison industrial complex. It is unfortunate that the Governor did not have the courage to tackle this enormous problem. At least he was willing to grant 84 clemency petitions on Good Friday. I wish mine was one of them.

I had seen the police following me before my arrest. A white van that was parked curbside began following us soon after picking up Scott, along with another unmarked vehicle. I have followed politics and the news since I was in my early teens, and the arrest of my former room mate for murder did not escape my attention. The majority of this news centered on his connection to the Palatine Brown's Chicken murders. I knew the police would want to talk to me because I was living with him at the time of those murders in January. I did not think, however, that the police would ambush me at a traffic stop with intentions of killing me if the opportunity presented itself. I was not aware that earlier in the week Bob Faraci and his wife had implicated me, not only in the Barrington murder, but the Palatine massacre as well.

I ate a large breakfast this morning. In the Roundhouse, prisoners in Kickout do not get two yard periods, but only one. However, our yard period was 5 hours long. We would not be coming in until 1 p.m., or later. I made myself a few peanut butter sandwiches, as well as a bowl of corn flakes with a handful of dehydrated banana chips, blueberries, raisins, and peanuts. I made a hot mug of tea to go with it. It was a breakfast of champions, and I intended to push my middle aged body to its limit on the yard. Unfortunately, I did not have the robust strength I had when I was 18.

I was put in a concrete cell for interrogation that was smaller than the prison cell I currently occupy. The cell was made of cinder block, painted white. It had one steel door that was kept locked, and a mirror. I knew the mirror could be looked in from the other side. Once it became obvious to my interrogators that I was not going to talk to them without a lawyer present, they began to use unconventional and illegal means. A light blue cloth was placed over the glass so no one could see inside the room. I was not taken to the Palatine Task Force headquarters or to the Palatine Police Department to be questioned, but instead to another place, which I later learned was the Rolling Meadows Police Department. This secret location was chosen to lose the massive media entourage following them, and to prevent my parents from being able to send any attorney to my aid. When my parents called various police agencies, they were told they never heard of me, and because I was held incommunicado, I could be interrogated without interruption.

Not long before prisoners on 4 gallery were let out for yard, a man from the other side of the cell house was yelling for my cellmate. My cellmate was sleeping on his bunk and was not going out. This made it easier for me to get ready for yard, and I did not have to coordinate activities in the small cell. I also did not have to get my cell in compliance, although because I am such an orderly person, it already was. The man continued screaming for the cellmate until finally Josh got up to yell back at him, "No, I'm not going to yard!" The man yelling at him wanted to play poker on the yard and needed a fourth player. After my cellmate jumped back onto his bunk, I continued to think about my experiences 18 years ago. I was dressed and ready to leave. I stood staring out my window at the dark clouds.

The only way I could stop my interrogators from continuing to rough me up and grilling me with questions, was to trick them. They told me they had not located the gun used to kill Fawcett. It was not in Robert Faraci's possessions, and his wife was not very helpful. They wanted to know if I could be of any help. When I had left the Faraci's, I packed a 22 caliber revolver with my other belongings. It was a cheap piece of junk, but it could possibly have been the murder weapon, I thought. I told my interrogators I could possibly be of assistance, but I had to talk to the states attorney first. They did not like this, but eventually Asst. State's Attorney Pat O'Brien came into the room. I told him how I had asked for a lawyer over 50 times, and I told him about the other abuses I had endured. He was not sympathetic, but I he told the police to take down the sheet covering the mirror as he left. Not long after that I was taken to the Barrington Police Department to be held overnight for my arraignment. The interrogation was over, and I was finally allowed to use a phone to call my parents. It was about 11 p.m. on April 29th.

It was incredibly loud when guards let out prisoners on the upper floor to go to yard. I hated the cell house noise and being groped by a guard at the bottom of the stairs. He even made me take off my tight fitting wool skull cap. The frisking was foolish. I could easily fashion a weapon on the yard, or put one in my shoes. On the cell house floor, it seemed like a hundred prisoners were yelling from cells to those going to yard. I tried to avoid the noise and people in general, but a cell house worker approached me. He asked who was the woman I was with in the visiting room the day before, and then commented that she had nice tits. I told the pervert that I am sure he is envious, considering the ugly grandma-type with a sagging body that comes to see him. He told me that is the way he likes it, but I doubt he was sincere, although he is a freak and all types of women, and possibly men, could excite him.

On the yard, men walked around, played basketball, or hung out by the telephones, however, most were clustered around the two weight benches and five pieces of welded iron. I also wanted to use the weights, but I was not going to wait in line, listen to their conversations, or be close to their vicinity. I began my workout at the monkey bars, and did chin-ups. There was no one by them, and I could be alone with my thoughts.

It was a cool 45 degrees with strong breezes. I watched the heavy dark cumulus clouds race across the sky. It was an ominous day, and I thought again that it was appropriate for the anniversary of my death. I also thought about a movie with Val Kilmer I had watched several days ago called "The Traveler." Val Kilmer played an innocent man who was tortured and killed by police during interrogation. He came back as a dead man to seek revenge. During the movie, he often whistled parts to Mozart's Requiem, a composition I knew very well.

The weight bench area was still very crowded so I decided to run sprints across the yard. I ran as fast as I could until I hit the wall on the other side. I then walked back, and repeated my run. It was a little over 100 meters, and I would have liked to have timed myself to see how slow and crippled I had become over the years. During my sprints, I noticed a sissy in the corner near the portable toilet and a couple of concrete tables. The sissy had his hair done like a black woman's, and had some type of lip gloss on. He also intentionally wore a yellow court writ jacket in a specific way to look feminine. Most sissies are in protective custody, but he seemed like he was well liked by a few people on the yard. I reason he was liked by more than a few, but they did not want to be seen with an outspoken homosexual. Truly, I live around a number of low lifes and weirdos.

The people around the small pile of weights thinned out, and after I did my 10 sprints, I joined them. For the next four hours, I did an assortment of exercises. It began to drizzle during my workout, and I continued without stop. I was glad to see most of the other prisoners depart and leave me alone. With the rain slapping me in the face, I had a man come by and say, "You do not ever stop?" No, the elements were not going to prevent me from working out. I had exercised in far worse weather over the years. I had endured a lot in my 18 years, and some cold rain was the least of my miseries.

When I returned from yard, my cellmate jumped on his bunk. He knew I would want to wash up and do other things. After I ate my little soy-turkey burger and brushed my teeth, I began the arduous process of washing my clothes. I send most of my clothes out to be washed, however, I only had one set of sweatpants and shorts, and these I washed in the cell. They were wet and muddy, as were my shoes. I figured I would also wash my thermals as well, although I did not wear them to yard. Washing clothes and shoes by hand was difficult, but even more so was rinsing them in my toilet which has a 10 minute timer. I spent 5 hours working out, and 3 hours washing clothes. When I finished, I could barely walk because my lower back hurt so much and I was incredibly tired. After bathing, I fell asleep and did not wake up until after 7 p.m.

I felt like I was beaten up, and most of my body was sore. I do not remember ever feeling that way when I was younger. I worked out even harder, but my recuperation time was immensely quicker. As I made my cellmate and myself a meal, I thought about the sports I had played and workouts I did before my arrest. I remember being able to out lift my friend's uncle's friend, who was a professional wrestler. He had been on TV and had wrestled with the likes of Hulk Hogan. Even though the man was stacking steroids and I was only 17, I could often beat him while working out in his garage that had been converted into a full gym.

At 8 p.m., the DVD movie "Conviction" came on over the prison's cable channel. I had been looking forward to watching this movie ever since I read about the film's description and release in the theaters. The movie starred Hillary Swank as the sister of a man wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. The woman gave up her life to go to law school and represent her brother on appeal. The movie was based on a true life story in Massachusetts, and like most realistic portrayals of injustice, it was a frustrating, grim, and miserable story that does not have a wonderful ending. While I watched the movie, I was reminded of many of my own experiences, those of others, and my family's.

The evidence against Kenneth Waters was not very strong. From the presentation in the movie, it consisted largely of the testimony of two women, one who was his former girlfriend. They testified that Kenny had admitted to the murder. The other piece of evidence was blood left by the killer who happened to have the same blood type. The movie does not dwell much on the trial and his conviction, but the ordeals he and particularly his sister, Betty Anne Waters, go through afterwards.

Kenny, not surprisingly, lost all his regular set of appeals. It is incredibly difficult for a prisoner who is not on death row to gain a new trial, despite how weak and precarious the evidence against him or her may be. After a number of years passed and it became increasingly clear that Kenny Waters would never be exonerated, he attempted to kill himself. His sister came to the prison to visit him afterwards. He told her it would be better for him, her, and all of his family if he was dead. This I have thought myself, and still do. If I had more courage, I would have committed suicide long ago rather than make my family suffer all this time with me.

It often seems that my continued imprisonment only torments my parents and other family members. If I were dead, they would come to terms with it and it would be over, but because I continue to live a harrowing existence, it is a protracted anguish for those around me. I recall a statement by the victim's mother to the news media about my sentence. She said, "At least his mother will be able to visit him." She was mistaken to believe my family's ability to see me in prison is better than had I been executed. I would much rather have had the quick death suffered by Dean Fawcett than the slow torturesome death that me and my family endure.

Betty Anne Waters made her brother promise not to kill himself if she went to law school to become a lawyer and get him out of prison. It was very difficult for her to go through law school and continue to be a mother to her children, or even be there for her husband. Ultimately, her husband divorced her and took custody of their kids. Seeing her brother rot away in prison, however, kept her motivated, and eventually she graduated and passes the bar exam. She was then able to legally represent her brother in the courts.

I noticed how the visitation was portrayed in the movie, and in many ways it reminded me of visits I have had in prison. There often are arguments, frustration, and pain with the failure of the justice system. Visiting with family is not always happy moments, and more often than not, visitation has made me angry, upset, and sad. It is this way I imagine for the loved ones who have come to see me. Visitation is often made worse by the petty rules of the prisons. At one point, Betty Anne reached out to hold her brother's hand, only for a guard to snap at her, "No touching!" Sometimes, Kenneth would stand during his visit and he would be shouted at to sit down. One time when he was told about a problem with his appeal, he refused to sit back down. After having words with a guard, he was tackled and handcuffed, all the while screaming at his sister in frustration. Many people, guards, and prisoners alike, will ask me if I had a good visit. Often I tell them, "No, I did not."

After a convict goes through his regular set of appeals, it is enormously difficult to meet the strict criteria to be heard in front of a court again. Usually the only way a prisoner can petition the court is with an actual innocence claim. The petition must prove to the court with new evidence that a confined person is innocent. Betty Anne learned about DNA evidence being used to prove people are innocent. At the time of her brother's conviction, DNA science was not available, but if the blood evidence was preserved, she could petition the court to compare the killer's DNA to Kenny's.

She tried to locate the evidence to see if it was still available. Many years had passed and she was told all evidence was destroyed after ten years. However, she was unwilling to accept that the only way to save her brother was a dead end. She went to the courthouse, and pled with a woman there to search through the thousands of boxes. After much waiting, she found it. The blood evidence of the killer was still there.

After about a year of waiting, the state lab finally confirmed that Kenneth Waters' DNA did not match the killer's. Betty Anne was jubilant and ran over to the prison to tell her brother that he will be freed. However, later she has to tell him the prosecutor refused to drop the charges, and said they can still prosecute him as an accessory to the murder. He would be retried under the theory of accountability, and it would be many years before Kenny was released. He may even be re-convicted on the testimony of the two women.

Kenneth Waters was at the same place as I am when his sister began to look for ways to file a successive post conviction appeal. Like Kenny, I have blood evidence found in Bob Faraci's car that may prove I did not lend him my car to him on the day he killed Fawcett. However, I have no way of knowing if that evidence is still available today. Furthermore, even if the blood matches the victim's, the prosecutor will most likely make an argument that it still does not prove I am innocent. The next step for Betty Anne was realizing she needed to gain recantations from trial witnesses, as I am currently trying to do.

Betty Anne went to see one of the women who testified her brother confessed to her. She admitted that she made up the story when pressured by a police officer. However, when she was asked to give a notarized affidavit, she refused. She was concerned about people knowing she framed an innocent man, and being charged with perjury. In Illinois, the statute of limitations on perjury is only 3 years, and I doubt it could be much more in Massachusetts. I was puzzled by why the woman was not notified that she would face no criminal penalty.

Betty Anne then tried a different tactic with her brother's former girlfriend. She went through the daughter they had together, and was now an adult. She initially rebuffed Betty Anne's attempts to talk to her. She had no memory of her father except her mother telling her he was a no good man, and a murderer. Like a number of men in prison with children, they have had no contact with their kids since they were arrested. Many ex-wives and girlfriends turn their children against them. Eventually, Betty Anne was able to tell her about her father being innocent, and how he wrote her every week from prison only for his letters to be destroyed by her mother.

Through Kenneth Water's daughter, Betty Anne was able to confront his brother's ex-girlfriend. She told her that her new boyfriend got an idea to make some money by making up a story on Kenny. When the police went to talk to her, they threatened her with an accessory to murder charge, along with the seizure of her child. This is what motivated her to lie to the jury. Police and prosecutors often coerce people into testifying falsely in murder trials, or at grand jury proceedings. They did it in my case, and I have been told by many others it happened in their cases as well. Cops and prosecutors often think they are above the law, or that they are the law. Sometimes, I imagine they are able to justify in their minds that it is right to twist and fabricate evidence.

Armed with the signed affidavit of the state's main witness recanting her previous testimony, Betty Anne contacted the prosecutor. Prosecutors do not ever want to admit fault, but when Barry Scheck of New York's Innocence Project became involved and told the prosecutor of all the media interested in the case, the prosecutor relented. There would be no new trial for Kenny Waters. The charges were dropped, and he was released from prison.

Is this a happy ending? No, Kenny is now an old man with gray hair. He was not able to be a father to his daughter. He was not able to have a life of any sort except that behind bars. Coincidentally, I learned Kenny had spent 18 years in captivity before being freed. He was a prisoner for as long as I have been now. I thought about how my successive post conviction has yet to be filed, and how it is becoming difficult to find new evidence. I have plenty of old evidence that proves my innocence, but this was not used at trial and cannot be used in an actual innocence claim. Unlike Kenny, I also do not have a sister who is willing to devote her life to my exoneration, and my attorney has done little the last two years. I have recently met a paralegal student, however, who seems particularly enthusiastic about my case. Possibly, she can be my Betty Anne Waters. I can only hope that I am freed before my life is over and I am an old man.

5 comments:

  1. I have read all of your posts but the one thing that Im currious about is how you got hooked up with the group of people such as Dean,Bob, and Brian. They all seem like they were a bunch of fricken losers. Especially Bob

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  2. To respond to the above comment---I first met Brian when I was 14 years old and attended a party of a senior at my high school. Brian had taken over Bob Faraci's small bookmaking operation because Bob went to prison for selling cocaine to an undercover police officer. Brian not only took bets for him, but made them, and was a compulsive gambler. At the party, he pulled out a wad of cash and bet me $500 I could not bench press a heavy amount of weight. Brian lost the wager, but I let him keep his money. Thereafter we became friends.

    Brian was much older than me, and had money, a car, and freedom, all of which I coveted as a young teenager. Not only did he have his own vehicle, but a number of lackies who would chauffer me around at my will. Brian let me use his car, or one of the vans from his father's business, so I could take girls on dates or get to various destinations. Money and access to a vehicle led me to associate with Brian.

    I met Bob when he was finally released from prison in 1992. Brian was out of state at the time and asked me to take care of his "paison." I never met Bob before, but when he got out, I gave him some money, drove him to see his parole officer, and did other things to help him get on his feet. Later in the year when I had an argument with my father, Bob offered me to stay with him and his new wife, Rose.

    Dean was an acquaintance of Brian, who I met on occasion through him. Brian and Dean knew each other from the time they spent together at Rivers Edge Hospital. Brian was there because he was an out-of-control gambling addict, and Dean because he was having psychological problems dealing with his abusive parents. His father used to beat him severely, and his mother was not too nice either from what I read in my trial discovery files. Incredibly, his parents later talked of their enormous loss and asked the judge to give me the death penalty.

    I may have kept bad company, but I did not kill Dean or have anything to do with his death.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks, that adds a lot of background detail to your story.

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  4. Paul, how do you explain the testimony of Nadine Lenarczyk? She testified that the last time Dean Fawcett was seen You and Faraci had picked him up at a motel and you forced him into the backseat of your car. he was never seen alive again by anyone. alot of attention has been paid to the alleged lies your interrogating officer told during your trial by you on this blog but I have never seen you address this testimony.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently you have not read my post "Nadine". She gave numerous different stories to police. In fact, initially she did not even remember Fawcett and began rambling about how she thought her brother was murdered and not just killed accidentally in a car crash.

      She was in and out of psychiatric hospitals and had severe memory problems. She was a heavy drug user and engaged in criminal activity to support her addiction including an insurance scam. When she was arrested she became an informant to avoid going to a federal prison. I assume she was also under pressure to assist the state in their prosecution of me. No one in that courtroom believed a word she said.

      I never spoke to or saw Nadine again after the day we all spent at the Riverside Mall.

      Delete

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