Five months into my prison sentence, I received my legal work in the mail. The folder contained court paper work and documents about my case. I also received the hospital rocords and doctors’ notes pertaining to my accident. These were vital records the court appointed attorney failed to use in my defense. This was the same public defender who insisted that I refuse the plea bargain of 15 years the DA initially offered me. He called the offer “outrageous”, insisting that I would only receive probation because the crime was nonviolent, there was no weapon, no force and no injury. Like most people, I had little to no knowledge of the legal system. All I knew was that I committed a crime, unexplainable to myself. I followed his direction and mistakenly took his advise. I desperately need a lawyer fight for me, something I have not had still to this day.
Instead of a trial before a jury, I plead guilty and went in front of a judge for sentencing. Before I went in front of the judge, I had to go through what’s called a Pre-sentence Investigation. This is an interview that goes into detail about your life prior to and leading up to the crime. I had never been convicted of a crime, or in trouble of any major kind. My life was far from being simple, but there was nothing for the interviewer to grab hold of. She was clearly on a mission to bury me under the prison. During her interview with me, she threatened to walk out twice when I told her that I did not “decide” to be gay. When I said this she became hysterical. Slamming her portfolio down and warning me that whatever she recommends, the judge will most likely follow. She was disgusted and through her heavy southern accent and voice of contempt, she asked me if I seriously thought God had made me this way.
I decided early on to be completely honest. I knew I was not innocent and I was not portraying myself to be. I believe I was looking for answers as much as they were, maybe even a little more. I took a brief psychological test with another woman who was cold as ice, and remember both women sitting directly behind the DA the day I walked into the court room.
I listened to the DA talk about this horrible monster; this heartless, worthless animal. The person she was describing was someone I have never known, someone you’d read about in a book or see in a horror film. I hated this person she described and each time she pointed at me and announced my full name out loud I was reminded with a punch in the stomach that this person was saying this about me. The things she was saying were nothing like me, this “animal” she was describing was a creature of her own illusion.
I wanted so desperately for my mother to speak on my behalf. She flew in from Philadelphia but became very ill and could not make it. My brother took the stand and tried to talk about the accident I was in just a month before this crime was committed. He tried to explain what had happened to me, the things that took place after leaving the hospital. He told how I was unrecognizable and incoherent, even to myself.
The accident was horrific. It had left me in a trapped vehicle that was completely destroyed (photos below). I was medi-vac’d by helicopter and in ICU for massive head trama and swelling. I thought for sure my attorney would make this an issue in court. That he would provide doctors letters and medical records stating the mental condition I was in after the accident. He did none of this, and did not fight for me. In the year I was waiting in solitary confinement for my date in court, I believe he spoke with me no more than 4 times. He convinced me that the judge would not sentence me over the DA’s plea bargain that I had agreed to. When the Judge sentenced me to 99 years (and to run concurrent with 16 years to The Department of Criminal Justice) nothing can describe it. There are no words.