22 years

January 2018

It’s that time of year once again that my thoughts are filled with reflection of the year past and dreams for a better future.

This month marks 22 years since young Christopher’s senseless death. It is always difficult to think of this heartbreaking loss and its effect on so many lives. It is a tragedy that must never be overshadowed. It is impossible; however, to consider that loss without acknowledging my wrongful imprisonment and being taken from my daughter and family. That tragic day, so many years ago, continues to cause so much pain and sorrow for so many.

Jen at work on Brian’s case. She keeps photos of Brian testifying at trial and after 20 years in prison at eye level so she can always see what she is fighting for.

On a much brighter note, during this time of year we like to take time to celebrate what we like to call our Jenniversary. It was three years ago this month that my lawyer, Jennifer Fitzgerald, came to us. Since then Jen has tirelessly worked on my case, with passion and tenacity, leaving no stone unturned. And every day Jen continues to bring us one day closer to the day I am exonerated and set free. Thank you, Jen.

While reflecting on this past year, I am struck by some of the overwhelming extremes between times of excitement and thankfulness and the difficult times filled with pain. It’s those extremes that often cause me and my family to struggle with being grateful over greedy, patient over frustrated, and anxious without feeling discouraged. Some of the most difficult times of this past year have been my own personal struggle-my ability to accept my circumstances without being in a constant state of resentment and anger. At times it can be crushing; and I know those feelings are often shared by my family as well. I know my family worries about me and they are often times overcome with concern over my safety and emotional stability. Even though we are confident that one day we will be successful and I will return to them, it doesn’t always make the difficult, every day journey any easier. There is still an empty hole in their hearts and in their lives. The loss is always present. There is always an empty seat at the table. Don’t be mistaken, there were many amazing and wonderful moments and developments this past year, and we have a tremendous amount to be thankful for; but, there were also some very trying times that sometimes overshadow the good…

Amber’s baby shower, August 2017
Samantha, Brenda, Scott, Anthony, Amber, Joe, Venilde, Lisa, Joyce and Mike

For example, we were all very happy that after a long, difficult battle I was reinstated in the NEADS Dog Program. I was allowed once again to train service dogs for disabled people, something that gave purpose and joy to my days. However, that happiness was short lived. Within two months DOC administrators put me in a no-win situation that would have put my safety at risk. I was forced to choose between my well-being and my continued participation in the NEADS program. With great agony, I was forced to leave the program.

This year in particular, I struggled with some difficult battles of depression (battles I did not always win.) As you can imagine, prison is a dark place filled with anguish, bitterness and pain. Being incarcerated, your thoughts are overtaken with depression, which then becomes intertwined with day to day life in prison. Isolation from family and loved ones becomes compounded with the added stresses of being immersed in a culture of violence, drug use and just plain hopelessness. You are surrounded by desperation, anger and despair. It’s a constant emotional and psychological battle.

Unfortunately, the DOC has recently compounded the feelings of isolation and pain by creating a new regulation that will prevent some of my loved ones from visiting me. The new regulation will restrict the number of family members and friends who will be allowed to visit, thus prohibiting my aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who have been visiting me for over two decades from seeing me. Imagine how it felt when we learned that as long as I remain in prison, I will never see those loved ones again. We were heartbroken.

I also struggled this year with the news of my daughter’s pregnancy. Don’t misunderstand. I was overjoyed at the news; however, I had a difficult time reconciling the incredible happiness at the gift of a grandson, with the anger and pain of what I would miss. Thoughts of my grandchild growing up in a prison visiting room, as my daughter did, were unbearable. Add to that my daughter’s very difficult pregnancy, with numerous trips to the ER and hospital stays; we were in a constant state of worry and under a tremendous amount of stress.

A little TLC from mom after wisdom teeth surgery.
Brian is not able to be by his mother’s side right now.

In addition to my daughter, the year ended with a terrible health scare for my mother. Over Christmas my mom was rushed to the ER and hospitalized for several days. I can’t describe the helplessness and fear I felt. I could not be there with my daughter or mother when they needed me. You become so much more aware of the tall fences, concrete walls and barbed wire that imprison you when you are urgently needed by the ones you love.

This past year we saw three men I know overturn their wrongful convictions and go home: Freddy Weichel, Darryl “Diamond” Williams, and Angel Hernandez. While my family and I are so very happy for these men and their families, it is extremely difficult and bittersweet to watch people you know win their freedom. I was forced to reconcile between my feelings of happiness for them as I once again returned to my prison cell and the large steel door slammed closed behind me.

On the other side of the extremes is the tremendous amount we have to be thankful for. I always remind my family, “We must choose to concentrate on what we have and not on what we don’t.” We have so much to be thankful for. In many ways, much more than others…

As I stated earlier, we still have Jen, my amazing attorney, with all of her persistence and passion. She continues to volunteer her time and work on my case without compensation. Her dedication to proving my innocence is never forgotten. It is because of her and her persistence that this year we have made amazing advances in medical research and diagnosis. Although we had hoped to file with the courts this past year, we just could never have anticipated the copious amounts of new, exculpatory medical evidence that would be discovered and require tedious review and expert examination. Most importantly, we continue to move forward and make remarkable progress.

This past year we have also added to the medical experts who, after reviewing the new medical evidence have volunteered their time and medical opinions in order to right a wrong and uncover the truth. This has been incredible and we are very thankful for all who continue to volunteer their time.

We also received some assistance from attorneys Lisa Kavanaugh and Ira Gant from the CPCS Innocence Program. They continue to offer support and remain dedicated to helping us any way they can. In addition, Attorney David Hirsch has joined our legal team and is now assisting with my case. In recent years, Mr. Hirsch was successful in overturning two wrongful convictions in cases very similar to mine. We are thankful to have him as part of our team.

Anthony Brian’s shirt reads, “My best friend is my Papa”

Most definitely what we have to be most thankful for this past year was the birth of my grandson, Anthony Brian. He is perfect. I was incredibly blessed to be able to hold him in my arms and just experience his warmth and charm. I fed him his bottle and he contently fell asleep in my arms. His perfectly formed, tiny hand firmly grasped my finger in a moment I will forever cherish. He captured my heart. I watched both his mother –my daughter, and his father look at this little person with such love and pride. No words can describe my feelings. I was so proud of them both.

It’s the extremes. It’s the jumps from joy to pain. It’s the struggles between happiness and anger. It’s the distance between patience and anxiousness. It’s grateful over greedy. At times we can’t help but to ask, what about me and my family? How much longer will we be forced to suffer because of this injustice? Lisa recently wrote, “How do you reconcile grateful and greedy when there are people working so diligently on your behalf?” The answer is you don’t. We are grateful. Grateful for all that we have; grateful for Jen and the amazing people who give so much to fight to prove my innocence. But, is it wrong for us to also be a little greedy? Are we ungrateful because we want the wait to be over? Is it greedy because after suffering for 22 years we want it to be our turn? Does it have to be grateful over greedy, or can’t we be both?

It must be understood, every day in prison as an innocent man is a very long day. Every day without a loved one because of a wrongful conviction is a day too many. We are tired. We are frustrated. We are impatient. Do you blame us?

Above all, we remain grateful and constantly remind ourselves that we have so much to be thankful for. Through the ups and downs, we continue to lean on each other as a family, with love and understanding, and anxiously wait for our turn.

One thing is for certain, each day that passes ultimately brings us one day closer…

 

 

 

 

 

 

My baby is having a baby

Greetings to all,

My family and I are celebrating some wonderful news. A few weeks ago my daughter, Amber, and her boyfriend, Anthony surprised me with a visit. They came in to the prison’s visiting room because they wanted me to be the first to hear their news. They wanted to tell me that I am going to be a grandfather. WOW! They are having a baby! I was shocked. It came as a wonderful surprise. My entire family is so excited and filled with happiness at the news. We are blessed.

Of course, my immediate reaction was of great joy and excitement. My daughter is having a baby. My heart was smiling to see the happiness on her face; on both their faces. And I was filled with love and happiness for them. I have always been proud of my daughter, what she has overcome and the woman she is today. And, I know in my heart that she will be an amazing mother.

However, later, in the quiet loneliness of my prison cell, in the dark isolation of my thoughts, some reality landed in my heart…

Best buddies

In 1996, when I was arrested and locked away in prison, I was torn from my family and accused of a horrific crime. My family and I were suddenly forced into this desperate and futile struggle, fighting an enormous, crushing criminal justice system. Suddenly I was in a fight for my life, trying desperately to prove my innocence. It was unimaginably hard on me and my family. We were in over our heads. We didn’t know what to do. I was a young, twenty-six-year-old man. And my daughter, Amber, was only four.

Those days were very difficult, but it was especially hard on Amber. It was very confusing. Her daddy was suddenly gone and she couldn’t understand why. We all did the best we could to help her understand. But how do you explain to a little girl why her daddy can’t come home with her? How do you explain that he can’t pick her up and hold her, or tuck her into bed at night, or kiss her boo-boos with magical daddy kisses anymore? How do you explain that daddy is in prison charged with first degree murder?

Whether it was the right choice or not, at first we chose not to tell her. After all, we still held on to hope that this horrible mistake would be discovered, the truth would come out, and I would be returned to Amber and my family. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.

After years of fading hope, Brian had to tell his 8-year-old daughter that daddy was accused and convicted of a crime he did not commit.

After my trial, we continued to hold out hope that the next appeal would bring me home. However, Amber was getting older and starting to piece together what was going on. I had to attempt to help her understand. So, at eight-years-old, in the prison’s visiting room I had to explain to my daughter that daddy was accused and convicted of a crime he did not commit.

It was still very hard for Amber; we could not protect her from everything. Amber had to live with the bad things people were saying about me. After all, to the many people who read the newspapers, I was a child killer. But to Amber, I was just her daddy. At school Amber was often bullied, and she was forced to live with the stigma of having a convicted child killer as a father. Some kids were very cruel, as kids can sometimes be. Fortunately, Amber was also supported by some good, loyal friends and some wonderful teachers. For that I was grateful. Through it all, Amber did what she had to do to survive and she bravely persevered.

Vovô, Amber and Vovó

For me and my family, time was often measured in what was lost; what was missed. For example, holidays and birthdays; me not being at my sister’s wedding; missing the birth of my niece; and me not being with my family to grieve the passing of my grandparents. But for Amber it was much worse. She had to learn to grow up with her father in prison. I began measuring time by what Amber was losing; what I was missing. What I was missing became something that tortured me during my dark times of loneliness and despair. The years were ticking by. My family did an amazing job at trying to keep me in Amber’s life. Phone calls, mail and weekly visits replaced my daily presence. My family attempted to keep some normalcy in Amber’s young life and minimize my absence. At times it was a struggle. Amber’s life went on without me.

This beach brat loved the tide pools!

I would get letters from my family telling me about what was going on in Amber’s life, what I was missing. Things like, when Amber lost her first tooth and how they put it under her pillow to wait for the Tooth Fairy; enclosed was a picture of her toothless smile. Amber’s first day of school, I got a picture of her dressed in her little plaid uniform. There were days when Amber would just cry and say, “I want my daddy.” Then, I got pictures of Amber joyfully playing in the tide-pools at the beach with grandpa. I was on the phone with her when she was crying because she stepped on a bee with her barefoot.

Bare feet and bumblebees don’t mix. Ouch!

I received drawings and hand-made cards from Amber telling me, “I love you Daddy.” In the visiting room, Amber would run to me and jump into my arms. I got a picture of Amber opening gifts on Christmas morning with messy bed hair and an excited smirk on her little face. I received a letter telling me that today Amber learned to ride a big-girl bike all by herself. In the prison visiting room I read Amber books and we made drawings together. Amber was so proud when she made honor roll; she mailed me a copy of her Morton “M” from school.

The honor student

At a visit, Amber told me about her first school dance and how she had no one to dance with her during the daddy and daughter dance. Then, a boy broke her heart; but I was not there to tell her that it would be ok and that there will be other boys. I got pictures of Amber and her friends at her sweet sixteen party-she looked so happy. In the mail I got a copy of Amber’s high school diploma with pictures of her in her red robe. Everyone was there except me.

Dad is very proud of his high school graduate!

Amber sent me pictures of different gowns she wanted to wear to prom. I picked the one that covered the most skin.  Amber turned 18 and started visiting me on her own.  After a visit, a prison guard said to me that he watched my daughter grow up in the prison’s visiting center. I cried as I walked back to my cell block. During a phone call, Amber told me that she was starting college. Later this month Amber will be 26, the same age I was when they handcuffed me and took me away from her. Now, Amber is going to meetings with my legal team and involved in the fight to prove her father’s innocence.

 

“After a visit, a prison guard said to me that he watched my daughter grow up in the prison’s visiting center. I cried as I walked back to my cell block.”
– Amber turns 18

Twenty-one years have passed. It was more than just birthdays and holidays that were missed; it was her entire life. At every milestone, every memory of Amber’s childhood, her father was not there. I was not there. I was in prison for a crime I did not commit.

Now, Amber is having a child of her own. My baby is having a baby. While I do not want in any way to diminish or overshadow this very happy news, I can’t help but to think of how me not being there is going to affect her; one more very important time in her life that she will be without her father. One more part of her life that I will miss, unable to be by her side.

Amber and Anthony sent me their birth announcement for me to send to our family. She said, “I want my dad to feel included and not left out.” I’m a lucky man. They recently came to the prison to tell me they were having a boy. Once again, they wanted to make it special for me. I was told I would know the gender when I walked into the visiting room. There they were, in blue shirts. They told me that my grandson’s middle name will be Brian, after his papa. I fill up every time I think about my grandson having my name. My heart is both full and broken at the same time.

A special gender reveal for Papa Brian

Every day brings a new chance for hope. Now, my hope is that my daughter is filled with happiness; that she knows that she will always have my love and support. My hope is to hold my grandson in my arms as a free man. My hope is to not have to watch him grow up in the visiting room as his mother did. My hope is to be able to watch him play and grow and just be a happy little boy. We are all very happy and celebrating this new life. After all, with life there is hope.

My family is hopeful for a better tomorrow. After all, tomorrow will bring us One Day Closer…

 

Reinstated! Feb. 2017

Hello everybody,

It was a year ago that the Department of Correction administrators, here at MCI-Concord, decided that they were going to threaten, intimidate, and then punish me for going against their wishes and speaking with a reporter from Boston Magazine. They tried to misuse their power to prevent me from standing up for my rights. Ultimately, the prison’s administration took away privileges that I had earned and then removed me from the facility’s NEADS Service Dog Training Program, in a malicious attempt to hurt me. I was devastated and heartbroken. Once again, I was being punished and had done nothing wrong.

Gianna welcomes Brian back to the NEADS Program with a kiss!
Feb. 2017

Since then, with the help of a dynamic civil rights lawyer, Sonja Deyoe, we filed a civil rights law suit in District Court outlining the abuses of power and discretion by prison authorities. We filed this lawsuit in an attempt to stand up for what was right and to prevent those in power from mistreating people who are weaker than them, simply because they can. The complaint that was filed with the court detailed allegations that the prison authorities threatened and intimidated me to prevent me from speaking with the reporter; and then, after I did, the authorities punished me by removing me from the NEADS Program after two years of successfully training service dogs for disabled children.

However, today I am very happy and proud to announce, thanks to Sonja’s help, I have been reinstated back into the NEADS Program. That’s right; I am now back training service dogs for disabled people.

Brian as he should be, with a dog by his side. This is Gianna!
Feb. 2017

I really want to thank Sonja for her help. Without her, I don’t think any of this would have been possible. Her dedication to helping those who are in need and her commitment to defending what is right, is the reason I am training service dogs once again. Although I have not yet been given my own dog to train, I am very happy merely to have the opportunity to be back in this amazing program. On behalf of me and my family, thank you, Sonja.

Brian

 

Update: Civil Rights Lawsuit

Hi to everybody,

I wanted to give everyone a quick update on recent events regarding the civil rights lawsuit I filed against the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC).

As I’m sure you remember, last February (2016), prison officials here at MCI-Concord threatened me and then retaliated against me because I cooperated with the reporter from Boston Magazine, who was writing an article about my wrongful conviction. Prison officials were angry at me and decided they would punish me by removing me from the NEADS Service Dog Program. Over the course of the two years that I had been in the program, I had trained three dogs that were placed with disabled children. Well, after my punitive removal I filed a federal lawsuit against the DOC in U.S. District Court (Peixoto v. Lois Russo, et. al.)

Attorney Sonja Deyoe stepped forward and offered to represent me in the suit, pro bon. The DOC lawyer then filed a motion with the court to have my lawsuit dismissed. He argued that I do not have a Constitutional right to communicate with the media and that DOC officials did not threaten or retaliate against me for doing so and that I did not have a protected right in being in the program to begin with so I had no rights to protect in the suit. Subsequently, the court held a hearing where Sonja aggressively argued against the DOC lawyer on my behalf.

Amazingly, I am happy to announce that Sonja was successful. The court ruled in our favor and denied the DOC’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In the court’s decision the judge agreed with us and stated that a jury could find that “prison officials took adverse action” against me and had “the intent to retaliate,” when they removed me from the NEADS Program. Further, the judge stated that a jury could find that these prison officials acted with “intent” to threaten and intimidate me in order to discourage my communication with the media.

This is wonderful news. Sonja did an amazing job in fighting for me and my civil rights. This is an incredible David v. Goliath win. With Sonja’s help, we were able to stop omnipotent prison officials from abusing their power and from threatening and intimidating those weaker and in their care. We are hopeful that very soon the DOC will be forced to do the right thing and put me back in the NEADS Service Dog Program and to stop any further abuse against me simply for proclaiming my innocence and fighting to be freed from my wrongful imprisonment.

Thank you, Sonja.

February 2017

Hello to everyone. I hope you are well.

This morning when I woke, it was just another day in prison. I put on the news and plugged in my hot pot to heat water for coffee. A national news station was profiling two men who were wrongfully convicted and spent a combined 40 years in prison fighting to prove their innocence. Finally, after decades behind bars, they were freed and returned to their families.

Over the years I’ve seen many of these stories. I’ve seen them featured on Dateline and 20/20. Sometimes they were convicted because of corrupt police. Sometimes it was misidentification by witnesses. And of course, many were because of faulty science. In fact, nationwide there have been thousands of men and women exonerated after spending decades in prisons for crimes they did not commit.

As a wrongfully convicted man fighting to prove his innocence, I don’t know how to feel about this. I guess on one hand it should make me feel hopeful and grateful that so many people were freed after so long. It should make me feel optimistic and appreciative that these people were finally vindicated. But quite honestly, today, what I feel is anger.

It makes me angry that our criminal justice system failed these people. It makes me angry that our criminal justice system failed me. A system that allows so many people to be convicted on crimes they did not commit, and then forces them to fight against the very system to right the wrong is broken. Our criminal justice system is supposed to be based on protecting the innocent. How then do so many people get convicted of crimes they are innocent of? And then, our appeals system is designed to ensure that innocent people are not wrongly convicted. Why then does it take decades (if they are one of the lucky ones) for an innocent person to be exonerated? What makes me most angry is when after one of these people is finally freed, people say, “See, the system works.” Wrong! If the system worked, innocent people would not be yanked from their families and forced to spend a single day behind bars for a crime they did not commit. Our system is broken and it makes me angry.

Brian and baby Amber
Fearing Pond, Plymouth 1991

Some days more than others I feel the anger. As the investigation into my own conviction continues, we’re learning of just how badly the system failed me and my family. In fact, it was more than just a system that failed; it was the police detectives, prosecutors, attorneys, medical experts, and judges that failed us. Some of the failures were worse than others. Some of the failures were malicious and intentional. Others were mere incompetence. It makes me angry to think of all that has been taken from me; all that has been taken from my daughter. My family has lost so much, and it makes me angry.

Our criminal justice system needs to be fixed. Our legislators need to change laws. Conviction Integrity Units need to be created. Federal funding needs to be given to Innocence Programs. Prosecutors need to be held criminally liable for wrongdoing. The AEDPA needs to be repealed. Time limits and other hurdles for appeals need to be dismantled. And, the death penalty needs to be abolished. We need to demand real criminal justice reform in order to prevent these injustices.

These days while so many people are angry and protesting about election results, Executive Orders, and Cabinet nominees, my hope is that there is some anger left for our criminal justice system. A system that is destroying American families and citizens, right now, in prison for crimes they did not commit; children growing up with the pain and loss of a wrongly incarcerated parent; mothers, fathers, children and siblings suffering because they have a loved one in prison as an innocent person. Lives are being destroyed and time is lost forever-all as a result of a failed criminal justice system. It makes me angry.

I want to end by stating that not all anger is bad. Sometimes anger is good. When it is channeled into action, it can be righteous. When it is used as motivation, it can be powerful. When it is used to right a wrong, it can open prison doors.

One Day Closer…

 

 

January 2017

Greetings to everyone,

Thank you for all of your kind words of encouragement. Your love and support is heartwarming.

Truth is; this time of year is always difficult. It is the anniversary of young Christopher’s death. I often think about the affect his passing has had on so many lives.

I feel the need to extend my deepest sympathies to Christopher’s family – especially to his father and sister. I can’t imagine the terrible pain losing Christopher must have caused them. My family and I have always empathized with Christopher’s family and those who love and miss him. Even as we fight to uncover the truth about what happened to him and to prove my innocence, we continuously remind ourselves of the senseless loss of a young boy’s life. For this loss, we are truly sorry.

This is also the anniversary of my family’s loss. It was 21 years ago that I was arrested and wrongly accused of murdering Christopher. I’ve been incarcerated ever since. Christopher’s death and my conviction have been a terrible tragedy – a tragedy that has had devastating consequences for so many people. I ask that this time of the year everyone please keep in their thoughts and prayers both Christopher’s family and mine. These two families have suffered incredible loss and pain. Please pray that we all are able to find comfort and peace.

Brian

Happy New Year 2017

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.

Attorney Sonja Deyoe, “The Straight Shooter”

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.

Brian

 

 

November 2016

This past Sunday was the anniversary Mass for my cousin John and my grandparents.

16 years ago today, my cousin John was suddenly taken from us. And ten years ago, this very same day, my grandmother and grandfather both passed, just hours apart.

Aunt Alda, Aunt Hilda and Amber at Aunt Hilda's house following the anniversary Mass for Vovo, Vuvu, Uncle Manny and Cousin John; November 2016

Aunt Alda, Aunt Hilda and Amber at Aunt Hilda’s house following the anniversary Mass for Vovo, Vuvu, Uncle Manny and Cousin John; November 2016

Every year around this time my family gathers in memorial to our loved ones. You might think that such a family gathering would be somber and maybe even sad, but not with my family. Rather it has become a celebration. There is food, family and plenty of laughter. And most of all there is love. My grandmother would love it.

I was not able to be with my family when my loved ones passed. Nor was I able to be with them on Sunday. But in my place standing by father were my daughter, Amber and my love, Lisa. As they told me about the gathering I smiled because through them I was there. My smile lasted long into the night. For that I am grateful.

I remember when Lisa first asked me about my family. I shared with her an article written just after my grandparents passed. After reading it, Lisa smiled and said, “That explains everything.”

I want to share that article here in their memory; In memory of my cousin John who I love and miss; In memory of my grandparents, who always made me feel loved.

This is my family.

 

Happy Birthday Jen

Dear Jen,

From Lisa and I, and our entire family, we want to wish you a very happy birthday.

Tender heart, tough as nails

Tender heart, tough as nails

The moment you came into our lives you brought us the gift of hope. For the very first time we felt that someone was not only listening but also understanding. Your tenacity and energy to dig and search out the truth gives us the ability to dream. Our faith is with you. We know that there is no one else who could have accomplished what you’ve done. You were brought into our lives for a reason.

You have given and continue to give us a gift that can never be repaid. And what makes you truly special is your reason for doing what you do is not for money or accolades but merely to right a wrong; to uncover the truth; to protect the innocent.

There is power in those pigtails!

There is power in those pigtails!

On this your birthday, I want to personally thank your parents for raising a sincere and selfless person. I hope they are proud of their daughter and the woman you have become. You are an amazing person who has become so much more than merely my attorney. You are family. We all love you, Jen and wish you a very happy birthday.

 

June 2016

June is a big month for my family. Let me explain…

This is a big month for birthdays; Happy birthday to my mom. Throughout my life, mom, you were always my biggest supporter. You were there for me through the good and the bad. Through the bruises and skinned knees; you made sure that I always knew that you were there loving and taking care of me. I hope you have a great birthday. I love you Mom.

Brian and baby Amber, June 1991

Brian and baby Amber, June 1991

Also, it’s my daughter Amber’s birthday. Amber, you have overcome so much adversity and not only survived, but thrived. Every day I am so proud of you. Each year that passes, on your birthday, I think back to that very first time I looked into your eyes proud as only a father could be. You were crying. My heart melted. I said to you, “Hi little girl. I’m your daddy.” You stopped crying and looked up at me. You captured my heart. I will forever be the very first man to fall in love with you. Remember that. Happy birthday my baby girl, I hope all of your dreams come true.

Happy birthday to my aunt Janice. So many times you were there for me to confide in and to offer guidance and support. You have always loved me like I was your own little boy. I love you and miss you. Have a wonderful birthday.

I also want to mention Lisa’s mom. Her birthday is this month. She left us too soon. Hope you are proud. Happy birthday, you are loved and missed.

All tired out - Joe and Brian catching a few z's!

All tired out – Joe and Brian catching a few z’s!

It’s also Father’s Day and I want to acknowledge my father. He keeps me grounded. There are a lot of ups and downs with the legal work and he always helps keep things in perspective. My father sets a good example to me for how to be a good man. I love you, dad.

I want to acknowledge that this month my niece graduated from high school and is preparing to go to college. We are all very proud of her. She’s talented, smart and beautiful. Congratulations. I know that you will go off into this world and do amazing things.

Last month there was an amazing get together with my family and my attorney, Jen (and Ed!)Everyone met at Lisa’s house and had an afternoon of good food and good company. It was a nice opportunity for my family to come together and get caught up on what’s been going on with the legal work. Everyone had the chance to ask questions and to share all of the incredible information and new evidence that has been uncovered by the legal team. Jen, the captain of this ship, had a chance to talk a little strategy and to explain what her plans are we go forward. Although Jen has been working tirelessly around the clock, there is still a lot to be done. She is still doggedly compiling investigations, digging through medical research and intently preparing arguments. Everyone is getting anxious and looking forward to getting the opportunity to present our case. However, we have 100% faith in Jen and know that she is the only one who can bring me home. I got to call them and while I was on speakerphone, had a chance to tell everyone how much I love them.

Sunday dinner with Venilde, Lisa, Joe, Mike, Joyce, Jen, Amber, Brenda and Scott May, 2016

Sunday dinner with Venilde, Lisa, Joe, Mike, Joyce, Jen, Amber, Brenda and Scott
May, 2016

As for me…I continue to take things one day at a time. For now, it’s all about survival. In spite of everyone’s support, my removal from the NEADS Dog program remains unchanged. Although I am still heartbroken and miss the dogs every day, I sometimes get to see them in passing. The other day I got to see Daphne, the puppy that would have been mine. She was adorable and is doing well in her training.

I need to stay focused and positive. I have so much love and support from everyone and feel it in my heart. I can’t say enough about Lisa. She works very hard taking care of me and everyone else, helping Jen and organizing the team. I couldn’t survive without her. She’s my rock. She’s my hero. She’s my best friend. She’s my everything. I am so lucky to have her. I love you, Lisa. And my parents, they visit me consistently every week so that I can look into their eyes and feel their love and support. My little sister, Brenda is ever vigilant on her Facebook page making connections and gathering support. To my aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends, you are all amazing and your love and support is never overlooked. And to everyone else out there who shares a post, leaves a comment, or talks about our struggle; you are all appreciated and remind me every day of what a lucky man I truly am. I know in my heart that we will be successful. I know that the truth will come out and it is what will set me free. I know that for now, all I have to do is survive; to get though each day; and to remember, every day brings us One Day Closer…