I hope you are all healthy and well.
This is a very difficult time of the year. Every year at this time I am flooded with an array of emotions. This month marks the anniversary of little Christopher’s tragic death.
When I think about the tragedy of Christopher dying I don’t think merely about the loss of a small boy, I think also about the loss to so many more.
Christopher died on January 22, 1996. I can’t imagine the terrible pain this must have caused his young sister and entire family. It is a horrible thing for any family to have to endure. And I have always empathized with his family that loved him and miss him dearly. Even now as so many fight for my freedom, we constantly remind ourselves that a young boy’s life was lost and we should never lose sight of that.
However, this month marks another anniversary – the anniversary of my incarceration. This time of the year especially I stop to think about all that was taken from me and my family. Nineteen years have gone by that I have been in prison for a crime I did not commit. Nineteen years that I have been an innocent man wrongly convicted of a horrific crime. Wow, just saying those words to myself and contemplating the gravity of this injustice has a profound, emotional effect on me. Every day I try to stay focused and fight back the feelings of hurt and anger. But this time of year I often lose that battle. Nineteen years have gone by that I have missed holidays, birthdays, my sister’s wedding, my niece’s birth; my whole life. For nineteen years my family has fought to right the wrong.
Nineteen years ago my daughter, Amber was four years old. She turned 23 this past June. I think how confusing it must have been for her and how her life was affected.
I think about what it must have been like for my sister and my parents to see me in that courtroom in handcuffs, charged with murdering a little boy; on the nightly news and in newspapers calling me, “Baby Killer.” The stares; the confusion; the hurt; the tears. What must that have been like for them to endure? How did they find the strength to keep going? How could I have ever survived without their love and support?
Then I think about the years my young daughter, just a little girl, went to school and had the other kids tease her about her daddy being in prison. I recently learned about things Amber encountered in high school, where kids can be so cruel and have the means to publically embarrass an innocent girl. Living with the stigma of being labelled the daughter of a child killer – I can’t imagine. The years of pain my parents have had to endure knowing what people were whispering about their son, at the same time loving me and fighting to right this injustice. My sister. My baby sister. No one looked up to me more than her. I was her big brother. I can’t even imagine how she felt when someone would say something bad about me.
Tragic. Tragic is the one word that keeps coming to my mind. Even though that word in and of itself cannot alone fully encapsulate the gravity of it all. There are other words that can be used like pain, hurt, sadness, loss, emptiness, anger, desperation…, I can go on and on. None of it makes sense.
To the family and loved ones of Christopher, I am personally very sorry for your loss. To his sister who was so young at the time, I am sorry for all you have had to endure and pray that you find peace. I pray that your whole family is able to find comfort in the truth about what happened to Christopher. I never put my hands on Christopher in anger. NEVER. That is the truth. While it was tragic what happened to Christopher and your family, it was also tragic what has happened – IS happening – to me and my family.
To my family…I am sorry. I am sorry for the pain loving me has caused all of you over the years.
Please, I ask that this month especially everyone keep in their thoughts and prayers Christopher’s family and my family; two families that have been bound through tragedy. May everyone be able to find peace and comfort and happiness and freedom. It’s been a long time coming.
One day closer