Tag Archives: Amber Peixoto

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…

 

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…

 

 

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.

 

October 2015

Hello to everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve last written. It has been a very long summer and I’ve been trying to keep my mind busy. Along with everyone else, I’ve been very anxious and looking forward to filing with the court. It can be difficult sometimes to stay positive and patient. I’m ready to go home.

Meanwhile…I’ve been trying to stay busy with school work and dog training. I’m taking my final college correspondence course. Once I’ve completed it, I will be only two credits shy of getting my degree. My dream is to complete my last class on the Boston University campus and to graduate with a degree in Sociology. I have been working towards this degree for eight years.

Things are progressing with the legal work and we are creeping forward. The private investigator has been hard at work with interviews and uncovering new evidence supporting my innocence which neither myself nor my attorney were aware of at the time my case went to trial.  In addition, Jen has been working tirelessly preparing a motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence. The whole team has been amazing. It has been nothing short of jaw dropping what has been uncovered and I think there will be little doubt about what I’ve been saying for nearly 20 years: I am innocent!

An update on Dancer…she’s still with me. She was supposed to go this past August but plans were changed. The program here at the prison got a new trainer. The trainer wanted to have Dancer “re-evaluated.” So, in September Dancer went back to the NEADS facility for another two week evaluation. Of course, she did great. The plan remains the same-that she becomes a therapy dog, which means that she will be placed with a clinical therapist and will work under clinical therapeutic circumstances. For example, in situations where children are being treated for psychological disorders or have been the victim of abuse, Dancer would be used as a therapeutic tool to put the child at ease and to comfort and console. This, I believe, is the best possible job for Dancer. No matter how down or discouraged I feel, Dancer always manages to make me smile. However, because they want to find the perfect client for Dancer, she may be with me for another couple of months. Fine with me.

Happy Fall Amber! (~1993)

Happy Fall Amber! (~1993)

Finally, I want to once again thank everyone for their kind words and support. It has been a tough summer but all of your messages of encouragement have gotten me through. Please know that I love you all and never tire of hearing your messages. Thank you to everyone. We are One Day Closer…

 

Brian

June 2015

Hey Everybody,

A quick hello to update everyone…

First, I want to point out that June has always been a very notable month for birthdays in my family. This month we celebrate some special women who are very important to me because of how each of them touch my life each and every day.

The first birthday we celebrate in my mother’s, Joyce. My mom has always been my biggest cheerleader. Her unconditional love has always given me a safe place to land. No matter how old I get, she still looks at me as her little boy. My mother has never wavered in her belief in me and every day provides me with an example of unquestionable and unrelenting faith. I love you mom.

Amber Peixoto

Baby Amber

 

Next is my beautiful daughter, Amber. My jewel. My heart. My baby. I still remember the day she was born as if it were yesterday. I was hers from the moment she first looked up at me and smiled. I fell in love. I forever will be the very first man to fall victim to her charm. No matter what, I will always love you Amber.

 

Then is Lisa’s mom, Jeanette. She was taken from her family far too soon, but she still is loved and forever will be missed. Though I never had the privilege to meet her, I like to believe that she would approve of me for her daughter. I believe in my heart that when I see her daughter’s sincerity and sensitivity, love and understanding, her giving and hopeful spirit, I am seeing the qualities given to her from her mother. I know she would be proud of you Lisa. I believe she gave you to me long ago, and you have been looking for me ever since.

And then there is my aunt Janice. She is also my Godmother and has always been there for me when I needed a little extra love. As my mother’s sister, she always cared for me as if I were her own. I will always love and appreciate you for that.

Happy birthday to all of you. You are all very special to me and continue to touch my life in innumerable and profound ways. I love you all.

Brian, Mom and Dancer, May 2015

Brian, mom and Dancer, May 2015

An update about Dancer, the wonderful yellow lab I have been training for the NEADS service dog program. Dancer has had her twelve month evaluation at the NEADS facility, and I am happy to announce that she has been chosen to become a Therapy Dog. As such, she will be matched with a permanent handler who works as a physical and occupational therapist. Dancer will be her handler’s therapeutic partner working with children with physical and psychological disabilities. One of the ways that Dancer will work with her handler is by assisting children with social disorders by motivating them to interact socially as part of their therapy. In addition, often, without a child’s knowledge, a therapy dog can encourage a physically disabled child to use their hands, arms and legs, enhancing their flexibility and dexterity by playing tug and catch, as well as walking and brushing the dog. Now that Dancer has been evaluated, I can customize her training, preparing her for life as a Therapy Dog. We are hoping to have her placed with a client by the end of the summer.

Last month I told you a little about Jennifer Fitzgerald, an attorney from Rhode Island who contacted us offering her help. As I stated previously, Jen has joined our team and has been working nonstop on my case. Jen has done something that no other attorney has ever done: she has reviewed every single document, police report, transcript and brief ever filed in this case. Her meticulous review of every document related to the case has led to further actual investigation which has revealed a whole host of new issues which made the entire trial fundamentally unfair right from the start. What Jen has uncovered is nothing short of remarkable. We call her Supergirl!  Please stay tuned…I am told that there will be updates made to our website soon.

Finally, I want to wish my dad a Happy Father’s Day. My father is a man that I have grown to respect as a good, honest man who influences my decision making every day. He inspires me to be the best I can and to remember the importance of family. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

I want to thank everyone for their continued messages of support. They really do keep me positive and hopeful for the future. Remember to be thankful for what you have and never miss an opportunity to tell those who are important to you that you love them. Now, more than ever, I believe we are One Day Closer…

Christmas 2014

Descending Dove Festival of Lights LaSalette Shrine, Attleboro photo by Samantha Aguiar

Descending Dove Festival of Lights, LaSalette Shrine, Attleboro
photo by Samantha Aguiar

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

To everyone, we wish you all a happy and safe holiday season.

I want to send a personal hello and thank you to some very special people.

To my family, I love you all and miss you very much.

To Lisa, the most special and amazing woman I’ve ever known…I love you.

Amber, every day you make me proud. In your smile and in your laugh there is love. You bring light to my life.

To Heather, Kate, Sue, Frank and Chris; to Drs. Laposata, Squier, Hua and Van Ee; to John, Lisa, and Don, from me and my family, we all want to thank you for your belief in my innocence and your hard work on my case.

Vickie, also, has been so supportive. Despite the fact that Vickie and her family have been fighting their own battle for justice, she has gone out of her way to send kind words. Thank you.

To our friends at Injustice Anywhere…Bruce hosted Lisa on his Blog Talk Radio program in September then officially endorsed my case. Sarah wrote an amazing article on our story for their holiday newsletter.  We had no idea that they were planning to write about our struggle. Thank you for this incredible show of support.

And to some special people from home that I think about every day: Charlene and Sean; Manny, Becky and their boys; Eddie and Deb; Randy and his family; and Mary…I love you all and want to thank you for your love and support. Merry Christmas to you and your families.

And finally to everyone who has signed our petition on Change.org, shared a link to our website on their Facebook and Twitter, and just support us in our struggle for justice…Thank you to all of you. You and your families are in our thoughts and prayers.

To update everyone on my progress with Dancer, the NEADS Service Dog I am training…She is doing great and we are both working hard. Her training is moving forward and she is doing well. She is learning all of the foundation work that will become finished obedience and shaped command. She is a very happy and lovable puppy who is a joy to work with. All of the other trainers love her as well. I am very fortunate to have her to train. She makes me smile every day.

The end of the year is upon us. It is a time that we reflect on the year that has past, and then contemplate the new one to come. This past year has been a roller coaster ride. We have had several encouraging ups, and we’ve had some devastating lows. Looking forward we will stay positive and continue to have faith, hope and love. We are always thankful for what we have, and choose not dwell on what we don’t have. Our hope is that 2015 will bring new opportunities, open doors, and finally bring me home to my family. It’s been a long year, but we’re not giving up. We continue to have faith that our family will be reunited. In our hearts we know that everything will be okay…

Remember that every day brings us One Day Closer…

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Brian

 

November, 2014

Hello to all,

I hope everyone is well. For myself, I am staying positive and still have dreams for a better future.

I can’t thank everyone enough for their kind words and supportive comments. It was especially wonderful to hear from Randy, Moe and Manny. Thank you to everyone who sent a message of encouragement and support. Whether you realize it or not, your words give my whole family strength to keep fighting during those dark times when it feels all is lost. Thank you.

I have some wonderful news. Lily, the beautiful, black lab I worked with over the last few months, has been placed with a client. Lily was matched with a 15 year old boy who lives with his family in New Mexico. This brave young man faces terrible medical challenges that Lily will be eager and capable of assisting him through every day.  Among other things, his needs include daily breathing treatments, chest therapy, and weekly IV’s.  Lily will enrich his life by assisting him with turning on and off lights and carrying emergency response equipment in her backpack. She will also help him with stability and balance; and, most importantly, she will give him love and companionship. Although I will miss Lily, I am very proud of her. I am honored to have played a part in her training and I know that she will change that young boy’s life in more ways then can be imagined. Lily’s greatest gift is unconditional love. Good luck and best wishes to Lily and her new family. Lily was featured on a recent episode of Chronicle.

Brian with Dancer, November 2014

Brian with Dancer, November 2014

However, looking towards the future, I now have the amazing privilege of training a beautiful Fox Red Labrador. Her name is Dancer. She’s 5 months old and the most lovable creature I have ever met. When you reach down to pet her, she collapses in eager anticipation of a belly rub. She has the most amazing, red coat and expressive, brown eyes. Dancer is what is called a “soft dog.” She is a timid puppy and learns very slowly. However, soft dogs often make the best service dogs. It will be an amazing journey training her to become a NEADS service dog. I will keep everyone updated on her progress.

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Please be thankful for all that you have. Take time to appreciate your family, and the ability to be with them. Do not take for granted your freedom. For me, I will be thankful for my family, my beautiful daughter Amber, and my love, Lisa. I will also be thankful for my freedom of mind and spirit, two things that cannot be taken from me. I will not let where I am define me or let my imprisonment change who I am in my heart.

Please remember, everyday brings us One Day Closer

Brian

9/29/14

Hello once again.

Let me begin this post by sending a thank you to Bruce Fischer and everyone at Injustice Anywhere. The internet radio interview earlier this month was amazing. We greatly appreciate the fact that Injustice Anywhere chose to profile our story and that they ultimately decided to endorse my case. Thank you. I would also like to send out a very special thank you to Lisa, our web administrator and advocate. She was awesome! On behalf of me and my whole family, we love you Lisa. Although she was very nervous, she did a sensational job during the interview. She is my hero and best friend. Lisa, you are amazing.

And then there is my mom and daughter…as difficult as it can be for me to be reminded of how all of this has affected my family, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have ALL of their love and support. All of my family, friends, and other supporters give me strength to get through each day. To Amber…I am sorry. I am sorry for all you have had to endure. I am sorry that through no fault of your own, you have gone without so much. In spite of all the difficulties and obstacles you have had to face throughout your childhood, you have become a beautiful, smart, sensitive and strong young woman. You have CHOSEN to be happy and to have hope. I am so proud of you. I love you.

Brian, Amber, and Lily  September 2014

Brian, Amber, and Lily
September 2014

In my last post I promised updates on Lily, the Black Lab I have been blessed to have an opportunity to train as a NEADS service dog. She is great and very smart. She knows all 54 commands necessary to become a service dog. I am looking forward to her being placed with a client that needs her. She is scheduled to graduate sometime next month. I am sure Lily will change, as well as enrich someone’s life. This past weekend Amber and I took a picture with Lily in the prison’s visitation center. Lily will stay with us in our hearts.

I would like to tell you all about one of the best, most rewarding parts of the NEADS Prison Partnership Program. Every few months there is a dog graduation. Once a service dog has completed their training and has been placed with a client, the clients come into the prison to meet the men that trained their dogs. This past week I had the privilege to attend the most recent graduation ceremony here at the prison. I had the honor to meet three disabled veterans, diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The three soldiers came to the facility with their newly placed dogs to meet us and thank us personally for training their dogs. Each of them explained how their dog will change their lives, and what having a service dog means to them. It was amazing. For us, the trainers, the graduation brings the whole process full circle. It can be very difficult for us to be given a new puppy who knows nothing, training her and take care of her for up to 18 months, then ultimately having to watch her leave to be placed with a client. Getting to meet the person who has gotten her…seeing their smile and love for their new service dog, makes it all worth while.

Thank you once again to everyone for their love and support.                                                 Everyday brings us One Day Closer…

Brian