Thursday, May 23, 2013

May 19, 2013

Dear Sis~

I've got 25 days left to live.  It isn't normal to be able to write something like that, and that sense of surrealism permeates every hour down here.  Making a man spend his last six weeks ticking off every minute, hour and day of his life left on earth constitutes cruel and unusual punishment by any definition.  And it certainly constitutes, as a matter of law, two of Florida's statutory aggravating circumstances (used by the state to justify the imposition of death sentences), to wit: 1) the killing is cold, calculated and premeditated; and, 2) the killing is heinous, atrocious and cruel.  Although I've fully accepted my circumstances, I know it's going to happen and I've come to terms with it, that does not obviate the fact that it just isn't right to do this to people, and for society to accept this as normal or natural, well, it speaks more about our society than it does about those being so efficiently dispatched down here in the bowels of this penitentiary.  Having said that, and on a purely personal note, perhaps it is good for me to endure this, drip by drip, stripe by stripe, in order to indelibly etch this on my spirit, to ensure that in my next life my soul will, through its slumber, vividly recall these long days, will never, ever forget this lesson and I will never repeat the mistakes and poor choices that plagued this life I'm about to surrender.  Just a thought...

There are now three of us down here on death watch; all our executions are spaced 2 weeks apart.  The guy with senior status (Elmer) is set to die on May 29th, 2 weeks before me.  Last week the Florida Supreme Court denied his last-ditch appeal and he's got no place left to go.  He does not know much about the law or court procedures but he told me he knows there is now nothing between him and his date with death.  He's resigned to his fate and I hear him pacing the floor a lot, a pacing that is gradually morphing into a listless shuffling, as if all hope has deflated from his body, like air leaking from a punctured tire.  It's a sad, melancholy sound when you know its context.  I choose to remain active, vital and alive, my spirit, intellect and even my humor undiminished, and I'll remain so until they shoot that poison into my veins and snuff out the candle of this physical vehicle.

I understand there are usually about two dozen witnesses to these executions and I sometimes wonder about those who will be at mine, unknown, faceless men rooting for me to die, happy to see me breathe my last breath.  I wonder about men who do not know me, have never met me, never broken bread with me and who know nothing about what's in my heart, who nonetheless are anxious, eager, happy to see me die.  It does not bother me, but I wonder if it will ever bother any of those men (and yes, it's almost always men, with their lust for blood; women seldom indulge in this), perhaps in their sunset years when they reflect back on their youth and wonder about their imperatives.  I hope, for their sakes, that one day they will be ashamed - or at least disappointed - with their naked blood lust and will determine to henceforth set a better example for those following behind them.

Light & Love,

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 12, 2013

Dear Sis~

On Tuesday they came and measured me for my execution/burial suit.  Sometime soon I'll be given the details on how "the body" will be disposed of following the legally required autopsy (will my cause of death really be a mystery?).  I understand the State will pay for a cremation should I choose this form of disposal (I do) and my ashes will be available at a Gainesville Funeral home; but don't quote me on that yet.  Discussing the practical aspects of my upcoming death was a little disconcerting, but I took it in stride.  

I've been on death watch for 10 days now and I have 31 days left to live.  (It seems surreal when I write that out, and just as surreal that all those around me accept this as a normal and natural thing).  My cell (one of three) is next to the execution chamber so I won't have far to walk.  There's another guy down here with me, his execution is set for 2 weeks before mine so assuming he doesn't get a stay I'll have a front row seat to how the final days and hours play out. Aren't I lucky?

I gotta tell you, Sis, there's a big difference between contemplating your death in the abstract and seriously considering it when it's an absolute, undeniable soon-to-occur fact, when you are counting down the exact days you have left here on Schoolhouse Earth.  I got little sleep the first week, perhaps 2 hours a night and then I was up and wide awake at 2:00 a.m., mind racing, thoughts all a-jumble, despite my best breathing and meditation techniques.  I'd finally get my mind onto some mundane subject and then, bam!, my gut would knot up as the thought suddenly elbowed its way into my mind, these guys are going to take me next door and kill me in X number of days!  This still happens a dozen times a day, and more at night.

When your warrant gets signed so many things suddenly become trivial.  I've already thrown or given away 95% of my personal property, the stuff that for years seemed so important.  All those great books I'll never get to read; reams and reams of legal work I've been dragging around, and studying, for 2 decades and which has suddenly lost its relevance.  My magazines and newspapers stack up unread; I have little appetite to waste valuable, irreplaceable hours reading up on current events.  Does it really matter to me now what's happening in the Middle East, or on Wall Street, or how my Miami Dolphins are looking for the upcoming new season?  What's the point?  Ditto the TV; I'm uninterested in wasting time watching programs that now mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.  The other day I caught myself reaching for my daily vitamin.  Really?, I wondered, as the absurdity hit me.  Likewise, after 40 years of working out religiously, that's out the window now.  Again, what's the point? Now, every decision about how to spend the next hour reminds me of Elaine in that Seinfeld episode where she had to constantly evaluate whether her boyfriends were really "sponge worthy."  I spend my time in my spiritual/metaphysical books, or listening to my MP3 player, or meditating/contemplating/reflecting on life's universal mysteries.

After 10 days on death watch you know what I've come away with?  This shit isn't right!  On so many levels!  I'm not talking about me, about the particulars of my case.  I mean across the board, for anyone. This institutionalized and ritualized killing of our fellow human beings, this process which, in its mundane daily regularity seeks to make this very abnormal thing normal and acceptable.  It's sick, and it's crazy when you actually consider what's going on.  The folks here who are thanklessly tasked with actually carrying it out, they do not like doing it.  They see us, talk with us, occasionally laugh and joke with us, on a daily basis, and then one day they have to come in and kill us.  This ain't natural!  One day, I pray, we as a nation will have an expansion of consciousness and we'll ask ourselves how we ever thought this was right.

Today is Mother's Day, and as I usually do this time of year I open my photo album and look at those old black and white photos of Mom (God, she was beautiful!) and wonder how my life would have turned out differently if she had not died when I was a baby, if I'd had a mother to love me, raise me, guide and nurture me, a mom I could love, look up to, and be determined not to disappoint.  These are, for now, unanswerable questions, but when I pass over to the next plane I hope to get some answers.  If nothing else I'll be with Mom and Dad and that is what gives me such peace.

                Love & Light,

Bill asked that I re-print this beautiful message:

A Lesson not to be forgotten

One day a University student went for a walk with a very friendly Professor.  As they walked they came across a man working in a field and on the road outside the field a pair of old shoes.  The student said to the professor, "let's play a joke on him.  We'll take away the shoes and hide them and see how he reacts when he comes out and cannot find them."  The professor was a kind man and he said, "No, we won't do that.  Both of us are well off.  We should not make fun out of hard working poor people.  Instead let us put a gold coin in each shoe and see what happens when he finds them."  They did this and hid behind some bushes on the other side of the road.  On finishing his work the man came out to put on his shoes.  On putting on the first he felt something and looking inside took out the gold coin.  Thoroughly surprised he looked all around him a number of times and seeing nobody he put the gold coin in his pocket.  Then he put on the other shoe and to his even greater surprise he found another gold coin.  Overcome he fell on his knees, raised his eyes to the sky and loudly praised God, thanking Him for sending him help for his sick wife, for the children who were undernourished and for His great love in providing him with this unexpected gift.

The student was profoundly moved and his eyes filled with tears.  "Now" said the professor "aren't you glad that we did not play the joke you suggested?"    
"Yes" replied the student "you have taught me a lesson I will never forget."

  "It is in giving that we receive"ST FRANCIS OF ASSISI

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May 3, 2103 - Message to Bill's Readers

Dear Sis~

Today Governor Scott signed my death warrant and my execution date has been scheduled for June 12th, at 6pm.  I wasn't really surprised when they showed up at my cell door with the chains and shackles; for the last month or  so I've had a strong premonition that my warrant was about to be signed, but that wasn't something I wanted to share with you.

Sis, you know I'm a straight shooter, I'm not into sugar coating things, so I don't want you to have any illusions about this.  I do not expect any delays or stays.  This is it.  In 40 days these folks will take me into the room next door and kill me.

I know this is an impossible request but to the extent you can, please don't worry about me.  You know I am mentally strong, and I'm in a good place spiritually.  Right now I'm more concerned about the pain I'm causing you and everyone else who loves me and cares about me.  I am ready for this, Sis, and I am at peace.  After 40+ years of living in cages I am ready to leave this dead end existence and move on.  I leave with many regrets over the people I have hurt, and those I've disappointed, and over a life squandered away.  My spirit will fly away hugging all the life lessons learned over 58 years on Schoolhouse Earth and with an implacable determination not to repeat these mistakes the next time around.

I know you are sad and hurting, Sis; I wish I could wipe away your tears.  Dwell on our good memories from the days of our youth, and hang onto our shared belief that life on this planet is temporary, as our separation will be temporary, and we will be together again in our true Home.  Most of all, remember that Love abides and conquers all.

Light & Love,
While Bill wrote this on the day his warrant was signed, he was not aware of the many avenues we are pursuing to stop this execution, the Petition being one of the most powerful.  His attorneys are working non-stop for legal remedies and many people from all over the world have written him and sent up prayers for him.  For all the caring people who have been called to action I thank you from my heart as does Bill. 

Friday, May 03, 2013

Today Gov Scott signed William's death warrant for a date of June 12th

Dear Readers:

Today Gov Scott signed William's death warrant with an execution date of June 12th.  Please see the Petition to the right of this post to sign it.  We are working on many avenues and his attorneys are filing briefs for a stay of execution. Anything you can do to get the word out is greatly appreciated, as are your prayers.  We are not giving up hope that Bill's sentence can be commuted to a life sentence. 

Thank you very much.

Bill's sister, Lisa Van Poyck

Thursday, May 02, 2013

April 25, 2013

Dear Sis~

On April 10, Larry Mann was executed downstairs.  Seven days later Governor Scott signed another death warrant, for a guy out of Orlando named Elmer Carroll, who happened to be my next door neighbor.  We were out on the rec yard when a lieutenant holding a bunch of chains showed up and took Elmer away, and while they didn't tell him why they were taking him in I knew something was up.  When I came back in, his cell was stripped and he was down on the bottom floor of Q-Wing on death watch.  I didn't really know him; he only recently transferred in from the main D/R unit at UCI and we'd only exchanged an occasional nod or greeting.  But I understand he's got an ugly case, the murder of a young girl, much like Larry Mann's case.  The governor is wasting no time executing people, he's killing a guy every 60 days, as regular as a metronome.  Still, that is insufficiently bloodthirsty for a majority of our state representatives.  This morning I watched, on the local Public Television Channel, the floor debate in the House on a bill designed to "speed up the death penalty."  Various politicians stood up to argue pro and con, and several invoked the Bible (notably the Old Testament) to justify killing us all as quickly as possible, while one guy repeatedly referred to all of us as "animals."  I have not read the bill so all I know about its particulars is what I could glean from the comments made by those who spoke up for or against it.  The bill contains a number of different measures not directly related to "speeding up" executions per se, but apparently it contains specific provisions designed to rapidly increase the rate of executions.  One representative stated that if the bill becomes law (and it surely will) Florida "will execute between 13 and 90 prisoners in the next six months." I don't know if that's accurate but he must have had some basis to come up with those particular numbers.  Those who argued against the bill, urging caution and reminding the crowd that Florida leads the nation (by far) in death row prisoners exonerated, often 10, 15, 20 years after conviction, were steamrolled down by the Republican supermajority and the bill passed by a wide margin.  I assume it goes to the Senate next, where it will certainly pass, and will be signed into law by the governor.  I'm trying to locate a copy of the bill so I can read it for myself (actually I should wait for the actual law that is eventually signed, because the Senate may amend the current bill in some respects) and when I do I'll bring you up to date. But right now things look dicey.  I gotta tell you, listening to some of those representatives speaking in favor of the bill reminded me of the villagers with pitchforks charging Frankenstein's castle; the guys (and some gals) are literally clamoring for blood; to hear them talk you feel certain they'd love to come in here and kill us all personally, they have no qualms about killing as long as they can justify it to themselves.  There was a lot of self-righteousness and hypocrisy in the air but they were too inflamed with bloodlust (and with their desire to be reelected) to smell it, or perceive the unseemliness of their eagerness to kill...

That's it for now, Sis.  Give the doggies a tummy rub for me, and know that you are loved!