On September 29, 1981, I committed a horrible crime against society. I committed a crime of murder that took the life of an innocent young (19) woman. She was the mother of a child, a daughter of a man and his wife, a sister of her siblings, and a friend to many. This crime also affected her family, my family, the community, the men and women of law enforcement and the justice system. For this I have constantly been remorseful and reminded of the pain and the suffering I have caused.
During my time in prison I struggled for many years to turn my life around and take responsibility for what I had done. My sentence began in the Ohio State Penitentiary (Columbus) it was there that like any other, I was subjected to ridicule, bullying, being gazed upon by other men as property, and it was there that my punishment would be slow, severe, and where I realized that I may never get out again. Soon I was transferred to the Southern Ohio Correctional facility, known to all as “Lucasville” and “The end of the road”.
At the time Lucasville was Ohio’s final destination for the worse of the worse. I am not going to say that I did not belong there, I DID! I was scared and felt that I could not be like the rest of those guys who had made their retirement package, which included a cell, lousy food, and loneliness, the worse anyone could ever feel. I was a young twenty (20) year old among those who had spent years on death row and several years without human interaction or human companionship. I had a rough way to go.
It took five years for me to finally break down and admit that I could no longer live my life without forgiveness. I had hated myself so much that I allowed myself to be abused, mistreated, unhealthy, disrespected, and misused. I was so far into a deep remorse that I thought I was supposed to just beat myself beyond recognition. I opened a book given to me while I was in the county jail, not but a week in. It was the Upper Room. Inside this booklet was an index card that stated, “Chose this day for God’s forgiveness.
But, how was I to ask for anyone’s forgiveness, let alone God’s, if I wasn’t even able to forgive myself? This issue of the Upper Room, dated September-October 1981 had focused on forgiving one’s self. It wasn’t until then that I was able to truly understand what being remorseful meant. It meant that I had to accept my responsibilities for MY actions that hurt so many people. It meant that I had a lot of work to do to become truly remorseful. My actions from then on had to come by repenting, and creating a positive road towards freedom.
Between the years of 1985 and 2007 I had given so much of myself to God, the community and to those out here. In august 2007 I was granted a parole by the Ohio Adult Parole Authority (OhAPA), however, because of the absolute right of the victims they were granted a full board hearing to dispute my homecoming. The OhAPA determined during that hearing that a continuance be given until November 2012. I was given another five years to serve. I wrote to the OhAPA and thanked them for allowing the people of the family and my own family to share their input for further consideration.
Although I did not understand, I embraced the continuance as another opportunity to prepare myself to be “Able” and “Ready” to take on the responsibilities and obligations of being a parolee. I enrolled in yet another program that taught me how to think, react, and face the trials and tribulations. I was able to quit smoking cigarettes, habit I had picked up after my arrest. In the end I thanked each member of the OhAPA and all the parties concerned that each day I am constantly asking myself “WHY? ” Why did I hurt an innocent human being?
I don’t know. But what I have come to learn is that circumstance, situation, past pain, past memories, when not dealt with in a healthy manner can often cloud one’s thinking and their ability to deal with stressful moments. I would like to stress to all who have read this, that no matter what I have accomplished, and how happy I felt getting released, there is a woman who lost her life who will never ever feel these feelings, and it makes me cry more for her than for the happiness I feel with all of you.
So please tonight remember her in your prayers. Her name was Robin. Because of this I served 377 months (Thirty-One and 1/2 Years) in prison. I was released Thursday, February 21, 2013. Upon release I enrolled (March 2013) in Everest University (Online) in an attempt to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. I have not done as well as I would have liked so far, but I am still here and still doing the right things.