Happy New Year to everyone!
I hope that everyone had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving and Christmas. I truly wish everyone has a joyous New Year packed with happiness. I have the feeling this will be a wonderful year filled with miracles.
I want to thank everyone who sent me support letters and Christmas cards. Every time the guards stopped to slide mail under my cell door, I smiled. I knew the swooshing sound of mail sliding across my cell floor was the sound of love, support and well wishes. Thank you.
This has been a long and difficult year. Although there have been some absolutely ground-breaking advancements in my case, there has also been some difficult trials and tribulations. I’ve had to dig deep into my heart and force myself to remember and be thankful for all the positives; my family and loved ones are healthy and well. I have an amazing support system that lifts me up and loves and believes in me. I have a wonderful family who fills my heart with love. I have a beautiful woman who has given me her whole heart. And I have the best lawyer in the world who fights and believes in me. I am truly a blessed man. Sometimes in life it is when you are at your lowest that you come to realize how much love you have. I have more than most and I am grateful.
I’m often asked about where we are with the legal work and when we will file with the court and ask that my conviction be overturned. Let me just say, Jennifer Fitzgerald, my powerhouse attorney, has been working around the clock, literally. Every time we think we are ready to file, Jen uncovers some new and incredible piece of lost or hidden evidence that no one else who have been able to unearth. She has been working tirelessly reviewing records, consulting with medical experts, and preparing to expose the truth. Every time Jen discusses what she has uncovered with Lisa, Lisa tells me, “Jen is freaking brilliant!” No one could have done what Jen has done. We know in our hearts that Jennifer will be the one to definitively and scientifically prove my innocence. We have no doubts that Jen will bring me home.
Also, a lot of people have asked: Whatever happened with me and the NEADS dog program? In case you forgot, in February of last year, just two weeks after the release of the Boston Magazine article, the prison’s administration had me removed from the NEADS program. I was shocked and devastated at the spiteful decision of the DOC to suddenly and without reason remove me from the program. I knew I had done nothing wrong and was being unfairly punished. I became very depressed and was having a difficult time. You see, I realized long ago that while you are in prison you have to find a purpose; a reason to get up in the morning. It’s the only way to survive in this dark and dismal place. It’s about self-preservation while being incarcerated. Some guys find positive outlets, like church, school or going working out. Most guys find negative outlets. Very popular at MCI Concord is getting high, gambling, fighting, and joining gangs. I chose to train service dogs for disabled children and war veterans. Training dogs gave my dark days in prison purpose. It brought me a tremendous amount of pride and satisfaction knowing that my time behind the wall and barbed wire had meaning. However, when I was removed from the NEADS program, I felt helpless. Once again, just like the day I was arrested, I felt powerless to fight against an omnipotent and unjust system. I felt that fighting the mighty Department of Correction was futile and would only bring more threats and retaliation from prison officials. But, after much encouragement, Jen, Lisa, and my family convinced me that I needed to stand up for myself and for what was right. I was “encouraged,” against my initial trepidation, to file a civil liberties complaint in federal court.
So I did. After I filed, it was posted to the website and Facebook pages. It caught the attention of Sonja Deyoe, a well-respected and talented civil rights lawyer out of RI known as “The Straight Shooter.” She offered assistance if needed. When the court allowed me to proceed in forma pauperis, we reached out to Sonja and she immediately responded with an offer to represent me in this battle with the DOC; and, most amazingly, she offered to waive all her fees. I was in shock. Her kindness and altruistic offer blew me away. Sonja promptly came to the prison to meet with me and in a confident tone told me, “I stand up for what’s right. It’s what I do.” She immediately notified the court and the DOC lawyer that she would be representing me in this civil action again the prison officials that violated my rights. Stay tuned to see what happens next…
In closing, once again, I hope for a happy new year for all. I feel in my heart that this will be the year of truth and what is right. It will be our year. But for now we will take it one day at a time. After all, every day brings us One Day Closer.