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Monday, July 28, 2014

Adolescence -- June 14, 2014

After my arrest, the news media printed an extraordinary amount of sensationalistic innuendo shaping public perceptions long before my trial. Television reporting was much worse given its greater viewership and inflammatory impact as well as their willingness to run with stories which had little to no merit. Foremost were the insinuations that I committed the Palatine Massacre, however, there were other false and misleading rumors that went back to my early teen years. All of this played into the prosecution's hands to gain my conviction and sentence to natural life without the possibility of parole. Despite not being permitted at trial, jurors were most likely prejudiced by the heavy slander by the news media. Furthermore, while very dubious testimony was allowed at my death sentence hearing to impugn my character, it was hardly believed by the judge. I did not get an indefinite prison sentence because of my purported behavior as an adolescent, but in spite of it.

Sunday morning, prisoners were treated to farina, biscuits, and turkey-soy grease gravy as is customary. However, no juice was passed out with the breakfast. Starting last week and continuing all this week, the 4 oz. cartons of apple, orange, or grapefruit juice has been missing. The change is the result of administrator's attempt to reduce the amount of hooch being made in the cell houses. The fruit juice is often what incarcerated men at Stateville and probably those at most other penitentiaries use to ferment and create a very nasty tasting, pungent wine. I never liked even the finest quality wines I sipped a couple of times before my arrest, however, hooch is extremely popular in prison. Men will drink bottles of the rotting juice to get drunk despite how diarrhea and vomiting often will accompany it.

This week I have been able to overcome the cold virus which has swept the penitentiary. Feeling better, my exercise regimens are again at 100%. I took advantage of my renewed energy and cellmate's absence to do various martial arts including various kicks. Apparently, I looked like a mad man because Anthony told me later that our neighbor commented I was crazy. I noticed Gavin standing outside the cell bars looking for a moment as I pounded the wall with my feet and elbows. In prison, I do not have a punching bag or any other equipment to stay fit and must improvise. I have been lifting weights and cardio training since I was in high school. Although my methods may have changed, my intensity has not varied much. In fact, I was much stronger and more athletic in my late teens than in my late 30's, and it was not from doing lackadaisical work outs.

I went out of my cell for dinner and while in the feed line a kitchen worker asked me who won the NASCAR race at Pocono. There are several pools in the penitentiary and the Snowman seemed disappointed when I told him Earnhardt Jr. won by a fluke to Brad Kozlowski who had a much better car. Later when walking back to the cell house, a couple of prisoners asked me who I thought was going to win the NBA finals. I told them the San Antonio Spurs were favored to win the series, however, I did not have any advice for them on day to day games. I do not even watch pro basketball or keep up with the latest news. Prisoners, though, seem to think of me as some type of sports guru. Even before my arrest when I helped my friends' bookmaking operations, I was never great at picking teams, just hedging, odds, and accounting.

While black inmates cheered and jeered while watching the Heat play the Spurs, I was bored and flipped stations with my remote control stick. Eventually, I looked to see what my cellmate was tuned into and saw a parade of women. The Miss USA pageant was being broadcast and having nothing better to do with my time, I thought I may as well critique them with Anthony. From the women remaining, I told him the most attractive seems to be Miss South Carolina. She was a 6 foot blond of Polish descent and had a pretty face as well as a nice body. Of course, she lost to a Mexican woman which seems appropriate considering the flood of immigrants south of the border that continue to alter the country's racial demographics.

When mail was collected from the cell bars, I was glad to see a guard had shaved. Last week, I had been making fun of his thin mustache. "Did you pencil that in? Are you going for that Mexican look?" I asked. Many Hispanics trim their mustaches to just a line above their lips because they think it looks stylish or perhaps just out of necessity. The guard, proud of his Italian background, acted insulted, although he knew I was simply joking with him. I inquired why he did not grow it out thicker or grow a beard. Oddly, he told me he could not. "Before my 16th birthday, I was able to grow a beard," I said to my cellmate after the guard left the gallery with the mail. Anthony replied not everyone was a "man-child" whereupon I retorted, "Bold Character" after the motto of an amusing Dr. Pepper commercial that extols a bearded man who lives in the wilderness catching fish with his bare hands and wrestling bears.

On Monday, I was surprised the prison was placed on lockdown. Nothing had occurred overnight to my knowledge to warrant it. When I spoke to a gallery worker, he had no idea. Instead, Bucky gave me a "hard sell" about trading my Korn cassette tape for his Iron Maiden. Live After Death was a good album that I listened to during my teen years. It was the classic genre of heavy metal I preferred over the alternative 90's. Had Bucky had the original and not a poorly made copy, I would have quickly made the trade. To make the deal more appealing to me, he said he may be willing to give me an additional tape. I told him to let me think about it.

With time in the cell and few distractions, I set upon giving myself a haircut. It was a challenging task to cut one's own hair let alone with beard trimmers and a couple of small plastic mirrors. My cellmate watched me struggle and he jested why I did not grow my hair out and put it in a pony tail. As a teenager and for a couple of years in my mid-20's, I did in fact have long hair which I brushed tightly back and bound in a hair tie. It was easy to cut and maintain. However, in my 30's, my hair line has receded and the top front has thinned. I was not going to try holding onto the past like Steven Segal. Short tapered hair now looks the best, in my opinion, and after I labored for over an hour with the sides and top, my cellmate gave me some assistance with the back.

On the 2nd shift, the prison was back to normal operations except for the Roundhouse. The building has been on a level 1 lockdown since a fight between a guard and a prisoner. During the day, it was being searched by the SORT. When the Orange Crush is assembled, generally, there is no movement and I assume prisoners whose cells were tossed were placed in the chow hall preventing any lunch lines from being run. A guard insinuated something dangerous or serious was found, however, later I learned it was just more hooch, albeit a lot of hooch. From sources, I heard an inmate had an entire large property box filled with juice, bread, and sugar. If that was not enough, there were two more large garbage bags in the back of his cell. I suppose if you are going to produce prison wine, you may as well go big. The punishment is the same if you have just a bottle or a few barrels.

I do not normally watch the local Chicago area news, but I tried to find out more information about a law just recently signed by Governor Quinn. According to the FOX ticker tape, legislation passed in Springfield automatically expunging the records of juveniles upon their 18th birthdays. Before this, people had to petition the respective court and judges had discretion to remove criminal files. Adults should not have to carry their adolescent delinquency around with them for the rest of their lives. What a person has done as a minor does not define them or who they will become later in life. Unfortunately, I believe the law only applies to cases which were never adjudicated. The evening news never mentioned the bill signed by the governor and I was unable to get any specifics.

Mail was passed out and I lost interest in trying to find information on Chicago's local television news. In one of my letters was a forwarded email from a private investigator I wrote. Stunningly, he claimed he had already worked on my case with Jenner and Block before my trial. I do not have much of the law firm's papers, but never did I see the name of John D. Rea. In fact, I was not even aware any investigation was conducted by my trial lawyers. Because I largely blame William Von Hoene for dropping the ball if not outright sabotaging my case, Rea said I may not be interested in his services.

On Tuesday, I missed yard to attend a health care pass. The psychologist seemed pleased that the melatonin prescribed to me was working well. She said it also helped her 10 year old son who has Aspergers. I inquired what other medications, if any, proved beneficial and was told that she could not compare us. Not only was everyone with ASD different, but her son had ADHD as well. From what I can surmise with my two meetings with this doctor, her son is not a quiet introverted child as I generally was unless aggravated, but he was very hyper. I imagine he is quite a handful.

On the way out of the HCU, I was stopped for a "code 3" or medical emergency. A prisoner from the Roundhouse was being brought in on a stretcher and was in a neck brace. Ironically, he was in leather restraints which I thought was unnecessary even if his unit was on lockdown or he was in segregation. While I waited for him to be wheeled through, I spoke with a nurse who formerly had passed out medications in the evening, but rarely does anymore. I did not realize how short she was until standing next to her. She had to be at least a foot shorter than me.

Upon returning to my cell, I called my father to ask him if he ever heard of John Rea before I replied to his email. He said no, and I did not bother asking him to assist me in the search for a PI. None of my family cares to help me in regards to my case anymore. It is not that they do not believe I am innocent, but because they are stubborn, frustrated, or so much wrapped up in their own lives.  Instead, my father told me about a woman he met from Russia in South Carolina. She has a daughter he thought may be interested in writing me. The idea of a Russian mail order bride has intrigued me, but it seems premature.  I do not know if I will ever be released. Furthermore, even if I did have a close out date, few people are interested in writing anymore. They text and email, neither of which I can do from prison.

I did not go out for dinner and instead made burritos from commissary food. The DVD "Godfather III" was scheduled to be played for prisoners, and I wanted to finish making the meal before it began at 6 p.m. My cellmate was initially not going to watch it until I told him there were some brief sex scenes and nudity. The Godfather movies were classics and although the third one was not as good as the previous two, I still thought it was entertaining. While standing at the counter spreading cheese on flour tortillas, Anthony asked if I should not be making some Italian food. I said if the commissary sold it, I would. Prodding further, he told me one of the main actors had an Italian restaurant in L.A. where Chicago style pizza was served. I said I doubt I could get take-out even from a local restaurant let alone from one on the west coast but I could do a good impression of Tony Mantegna: "If you will not give, then I will take!" This quote from the disgruntled mafia don was the favorite of my co-defendant and it was symbolic of his attitude toward the Italian syndicate in Chicago.

The DVD was never played, and instead I watched CNN's coverage of a Republican primary election in Virginia. Stunningly, the House majority leader was defeated by Dave Brat, a Tea Party candidate with almost no money. I was pleased with the outcome because I did not care much for Eric Cantor, an establishment Republican Party member who was taking positions on immigration and other issues I found disagreeable. Readers may find it remarkable that I was greatly interested in politics before my arrest and voted in the 1992 election when I was 17 years old. No one bothered verifying my age or even if I was an American citizen eligible to vote. After supporting Pat Buchanan in the Republican primary, I voted for Ross Perot, although pundits claim his independent run for president allowed Democrat William Clinton to win.

Amazingly, despite the repeated scandals of the Clinton era, his wife is once again touted to be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016. Personally, I do not believe she will run and is leaving the question open to sell more books. Hillary Clinton has been on various TV shows promoting her book "Hard Choices". Regardless of how many liberals adore her, she is less of an idealist than an opportunist. Book sales and paid speeches that earn her sometimes a quarter of a million dollars are much more important than having the office of president. Amusingly, Hillary Clinton was caught in an interview with Diane Sawyer complaining about being dead broke and unable to pay for the 10 mortgages she had on mansions. She did not mention the $12 million debt was due to lawsuits against her husband "Slick Willy" or that since that time they are once again multimillionaires. I do not mind politicians being rich but running a class warfare campaign is hypocritical. Furthermore, I think her service as a senator and as Barack Obama's Secretary of State was horrendous and incompetent.

On Wednesday, I was not looking forward to a visit with my mother. After 21 years, there is little to say. My life in prison remains miserable and I do not like to speak about it. Occasionally, talk will go to the times before my arrest which I find much more enjoyable except because she is so judgmental and religious, they become argumentative. This time I spoke about the girls I dated in high school and how I was sifting through them to find a mate to take with me to university. One, I broke the commandment of premarital sex. Two, I was not supposed to be even thinking about being a father at such an early age. Three, how did I expect to pay for tuition and the expenses associated with my plans? When I spoke of the money and property I had accumulated, I was criticized for having criminal associates. Finally, I broke cardinal rule 4 when I said if I had better parents, I would not have moved in with the Faraci's in the first place. As the saying goes, I could not win for losing.

Thursday morning, I awakened to a breakfast of uncooked sausage, rice cereal, and milk spoiled so badly it fell out of the carton like cottage cheese as I dumped it into the toilet. Having nothing to eat, I decided just to wait until lunch and in the meantime read as well as watch the morning news. Aaron Toppen, a 19-year-old from Mokena, Illinois was killed in Afghanistan. He lived just a few miles from my parents and went to Lincoln Way East High School which I would have attended except for a strange zoning district that sent me to Lincoln Way Central in New Lenox. Topper's death was in vain because he was accidentally killed by friendly fire. In fact, a U.S. B-1 lancer dropped a bomb on him. Often I feel like a bomb dropped on me when a teenager myself and I would gladly forfeit my life in exchange for his.

Due to the Obama administration, it seems many of the wars the U.S. has fought were in vain. Advantages after the cold war are lost to Russia retaking parts of Ukraine. The situation in Afghanistan seems to be precarious and I would not be surprised if the Taliban eventually was back in control. Then there is Iraq which is being taken over by ISIS. The group which seeks an Islamic state of Iraq and Syria just acquired the 2nd largest city after Bagdad and a vital oil refinery. Regardless of the reasons given to justify the war, it is very important that America has access to oil and dominates the geopolitical center in the Middle East. Only a strong authoritarian state backed militarily by the U.S. could have kept together the splintered region.

In the afternoon, I went out to the South Yard to lift weights and run the track. While working out with the bent and rusted iron barbells, I overheard a black prisoner speak about how he was hopeful he would be paroled soon. Keon, now 39, was 17 years old at the time he committed a murder and due to an Illinois Supreme Court ruling his LWOP sentence had to be reevaluated. To me, I thought how I wish my indefinite prison term could be set for a new hearing. In fact, I wished that I had a fair hearing in the first place. I have noticed some readers have read old newspaper articles available online, however, what they can never ascertain from these excerpts was the credibility of witnesses and that the entire proceeding was a fraud.

Well before I went to trial, Judge Sam Amirante told my lead attorney, off the record, that he did not want to decide the case. Although the evidence did not support a guilty verdict, he wanted to play the role of Pontius Pilate. Furthermore, if the jury by chance found me guilty, he would give me what the public wanted: the most severe penalty. Knowing this, I waived my jury for the death penalty because I preferred it over any term of years in prison. I also knew I would have a much better chance on appeal if on death row. The judge was perplexed and asked me a couple of times if I really wanted him to rule on capital punishment. "Yes, your honor" (what a joke), I responded.

I think the most news reported testimony at my sentencing hearing came from two students I went to high school with. Scott Anderson was an 18-year-old senior and a member of a clique of Stoners I frequently fought with. On the way to a bus stop during my freshman year, I was confronted by the punk. I was tired of his threats and just wanted to beat his ass and scare him silly, both of which I succeeded in doing. However, his claims that I attempted to stab him were ludicrous. It was only by accident that I cut him when brandishing a knife. I did not even realize the blade glanced him until well afterwards. The small cut to his arm was covered with a little Band-Aid, seen by one of my mother's friends at the news stand where she worked. Scott was laughing and bragging to his friends about how much trouble he got me in.   I was arrested and plead guilty and was given a year of probation.

As for Melanie Speiss, contrary to her testimony, she was obsessed with me (think Jodi Arias). I dated her along with other girls at Lincoln-Way, even a couple of her friends. I made no secret we were not going "steady," but she became furious when I told her she was not Mrs. Right and began to fade her out of my life. Years later, she was still vindictive and at my sentencing hearing she accused me of breaking into her house and stabbing her dog. I was never prosecuted for the incident because the police knew a person by the name of Harry Adams had committed the crime. He not only bragged about it to undercover ATF agents but plead guilty to making harassing phone calls where he taunted the girl about her dog. Similar to the evidence discrediting the interrogating officer at trial, it was not submitted by my attorney but in this case I really did not care.

I will be the first to admit I was no angel during my adolescence, but all of the people who testified against me during my sentencing hearing lied and told half truths. It was so apparent, even the judge remarked how questionable they were. However, as a scapegoat in the Palatine Massacre, it did not matter. The fix was in. To spite me, the judge even gave me a sentence worse than death: life without parole.