If You Had A Bad Day..

Discussion in 'The Backstage' started by Biddlin, Mar 16, 2019.

  1. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    I have wanted to write about this for awhile, but I waited a few months until my friend "Dave" had time to be comfortable about it. We had met in 1980 when he worked for me on a temporary government job that the USAF had allowed him to take awaiting his mustering out after a six year hitch. Over the intervening years we saw each other at various community functions. In 1996, he and I were members of a local private school's board. He had just become a father and was starting a management job with a tech firm. On a summer Friday night, after attending a seminar in a mid-western city, he was driving a rental car to a cafe for dinner when his life effectively ended. Six police cars suddenly surrounded him and he was held at gunpoint, literally jerked from the car without request or explanation, thrown in the back of a cruiser, read his rights, taken to the station and booked for murder. The following morning he was allowed to call his wife, to ask her to try and arrange for a lawyer from 1800 miles away and taken to arraignment. He denied the charges, was appointed a public defender and sent back to jail. He continued to deny the charges, produced documentation that showed he was many miles away from the crime scene and gave references who all told investigators that he had been with them at the time of the alleged crime. The police and DA's investigator concluded that the documents and statements were all phony and on the basis of a chronic jail informant's word, he was sentenced to 50 to life in prison. Over the next twenty years, he would lose contact with his ex-wife and son, his mother and younger brother would die and his sole surviving sibling would develop dementia and no longer recognize him. He used the few resources at his command to file requests for court documents and make his appeals. In 2015 a court finally granted a document request that showed that the DA and police had purposely withheld records indicating his innocence and a legal group took up his case. In 2018 after having found a death row inmate's death bed confession to the crime, from 2001, they were successful in freeing him, to the extent that is possible. The state gave him $199,000 and change for his trouble. He was released like a parolee, having to wear the now ill fitting suit he was arrested in. ("I asked the guard at release for a stapler so I could peg the back of my britches. I literally had no ass left." he jokes.) He had to buy his own bus ticket back to California, not having the identity documents now necessary to travel by air. He has been back in town almost a year, living in his late mother's home while readjusting to "freedom" and dealing with his sisters passing a few months ago, which was how we reconnected. I went to her memorial service. I was one of six mourners, none of who Dave knew prior the funeral. Afterward he held a small brief reception at a local restaurant and when the others had left, he asked me if I knew about his situation?
    I confessed I didn't, but had wondered, even inquired with his wife who had told me only that he was away on an extended business trip. Then she moved away and I lost touch. That was when he told me the story and I remembered reading about his release but did not put his common enough name together with the person. He smiled at that and said it was what he had wanted, at the start, believing all the while that he would be quickly exonerated and go back to his life. That was what he had lost as sure as if he had been shot and killed. Now he had his mom's house, full of memories and regret, a single framed 4X5 photo of his then 19 month old son and the ghost of who he was. At 57 years old he will outlive the pittance the state gave him in a few years and currently has not been able to secure full-time employment, so he is working as a tax preparer and fast food server.
    There is not a happy ending in sight here and I honestly don't know that there is much to be done. He is remarkably not bitter, he actually sent a condolence letter to one of his guards when the man's wife died recently and while feeling angry at the arresting officers, he has rejected thoughts of suing them or prosecuting under federal civil rights statutes. ("They have to live with this and other crimes on their consciences and I hear they lost their jobs and pensions.") Dave describes himself as a broken person who has adapted to life with his personal dysfunctions and demons. ("I have no funny life stories to tell in polite conversation, no career accomplishments, no kids to brag on.") This morning, sitting in the sun at a golf course snack bar, he asked me to see if I could locate his son, just to know that he's alright. "You can do that yourself online, you know." I thoughtlessly tossed off. He looked at me with a trembling smile and tears rolling down his face,"Yeah, but then I'd probably try to contact him and I'm not ready for that." A couple of minutes before I started this post, I found his son. living 80 miles away. I have to honor Dave's wishes, he is most certainly owed that, but when I texted him to say that I'd found him alive and apparently well, I asked him,"If you had no memory of your father, wouldn't you want to know that he was alive and well, too?"
    More luggage than I can carry. Thanks for the space.
     
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  2. Adieu

    Adieu Well-Known Member

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    Dang... Which charming midwestern city was this?
     
  3. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Dave has asked me to limit the details, but think Carl Sandburg.
     
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  4. Adieu

    Adieu Well-Known Member

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    That says nothing whatsoever to me

    Which state at least? Cause it sure sounds like a place to avoid at all costs
     
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  5. Micky

    Micky Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    I feel so sorry for him...
     
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  6. jmp45

    jmp45 Well-Known Member

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    Not a story I can click like, really feel bad for Dave. To have your life taken falsely, how do you redeem that? Is this something he can go back on the city and state? $200k is simply not enough for his trouble.
     
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  7. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member

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    Damn Biddlin, that just bummed me out.
     
  8. Söulcaster

    Söulcaster Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Expose the perpetrators of this injustice globally. Seek out relevant media, a Netflix special would not be out of the question.

    I hope your friend can make the most of what is left of his life after experiencing what can only be described as a living hell.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Peace
     
  9. Dogs of Doom

    Dogs of Doom Moderator Staff Member

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    tragic story...

    hopefully, he can put it behind him & move forward, hopefully w/ his son...
     
  10. stringtree

    stringtree Well-Known Member

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    I clicked like, not for the story, but to show support for what he is expressing.
    Its not good to carry such heavy weight alone.

    I pray Gods Mercy on Daves life, and wisdom and strength to help you Biddlin, as you stand by your friend at this time in his life.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  11. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    I really feel like he has put much of it behind him, although it is obviously painful for him at times. He has learned not to suck down his food, but still has trouble looking folks in the eye, things prison teaches you quickly, I guess. He hasn't driven a car since the arrest and wants to give that a try, but not just yet. Driving him home one evening, a police cruiser went by us code 3 and he visibly stiffened up until it had passed. He has been able to sleep for the first time in decades, which he feels is the greatest thing. His next door neighbors are a very nice older couple who knew his sisters and mother. They have begun having across the fence conversations. His co-workers at the tax place are not aware of his situation and he feels comfortable with them for the most part. He enjoys his fast food job with younger kids and says he really enjoys their energy and music. He has connected with a couple of other old friends and says that has been good.
    He has been approached but does not want any part of it. He has started writing an outline, partly to help him deal with the horrible stuff he saw and experienced and may turn it into a book at some later time, but has said to me, "I'm just trying to get perspective on a huge span of time that I saw mostly on the backs of my eyelids."
     
  12. Mitchell Pearrow

    Mitchell Pearrow Well-Known Member

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    Hell of a story, you are quite the friend, I do hope he reconnects with his son, as Dogs said! Mitch
     
  13. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Funny thing, it's not a burden for me. When I heard his story, I was so mad that I turned beet red. Although we had never been "close" friends, suddenly he was comforting me, saying It's alright, man. I'm here now." People like Dave inspire me.
     
  14. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Me too.
     
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  15. Dblgun

    Dblgun Member

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    As a law enforcement officer these stories sicken me, thank you for sharing.
     
  16. Wooferhead1

    Wooferhead1 Well-Known Member

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    Bd you did right by helping him find his son, he needs all you can give, it has to be rough (for you too). Our society stigmatizes prison time, guilty or not, people don't realize how tough it is to start over...hope he can find his way thru this.
     
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  17. Kinkless Tetrode

    Kinkless Tetrode Well-Known Member

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    He needs to sue. He should ask for at least a million per each year of incarceration for starters. People having been awarded more than 250K for false arrest lasting less than a week. Especially as there is documentation of withholding exculpatory evidence. The authorities in this case need to be made example of. Even if lawyers get most of it it should be done.
     
  18. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately a few bad apples give you guys some undeserved black eyes. Thanks for caring.
     
  19. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    When it happens to you, go for it. He gets to make his own decisions for his own reasons.
     
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  20. ibmorjamn

    ibmorjamn Well-Known Member

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    Wow , it almost sounds like movie. What a nightmare. I think I would be extremely bitter and vengeful. I wish him well now if that is possible.
     

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