You are reading a rare, detailed account of everyday life in Stateville Prison.

Click to read Paul's blog quoted on:
To contact Paul, please email:
or write him at the address shown in the right column. He will get your message personally.

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.