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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,
    Bill

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

The existence of the death penalty in the United States is shameful, a blot on the reputation of a country whose strengths and achievements are so remarkable. Governor Scott, in ordering the execution of a man who has been on death row for so long, would do well to consider this little known fact.

When he became Minister-President under Hitler, Goering took on the prerogative of clemency in Prussia. It's an extraordinary fact that when the condemned had been sentenced to death for any length of time, this Nazi hesitated about allowing the execution to take place. The historian Richard J Evans writes in 'Rituals of Retribution:'

'Goering, a man not generally known for his sensitivity to human suffering, indeed went on to grant reprieves to a number of these prisoners, precisely on this ground; a telling contrast to the equanimity with which other judicial authorities, in other places and at other times, have regarded the confinement of condemned prisoners on death row not for months, but for years, while awaiting a final decision on whether they should live or die.'

To await death for any length of time seemed to Goering intolerable. On 5 May 1933, Goering pointed out
'that in all the cases which are now before me, it is extraordinarily difficult to allow justice to take its course after the condemned, as a result of the uncertainty under which they have already been labouring, some of them for an extraordinarily long time have in any case had to undergo spiritual martyrdom.' The 'extraordinarily long time' was perhaps a year or two, not two decades or more, as in the case of Bill and others.

My warmest good wishes to Bill and those who support him. His recent writings, which show amazing resilience and strength, are deeply appreciated, like his earlier ones.

Paul Hurt
Sheffield, England


Anonymous said...

Noticeably absent from your thoughts and ramblings is the thought that, if it were not for your ambush, my brother would still be alive. Neither he nor I knew when we awoke on the morning of June 24, 1987, that he would not live another day, and that we would never see each other again. I miss him very much.

wordsworth said...

Thanks to Bill's Sister for sharing his eloquent words...More people need to know the minute-by-minute reality of death row. It just breaks my heart that we continue the imposition of this most cruel of all punishments...the God of the old testament himself could not have devised a more heinous act.

I'm sharing on my fb page, because the more people that know the sickening details, the sooner our chance to become a nation of humanity. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I do find it odd that Van Poyck hasn't spared a word for the victim in hs case, Fred Griffis, or Griffis' family.

Ursula said...

I can only say thank you to Bill and his sister for this heartbreaking diary. It is so important to educate people what really happens behind the walls. With me many other people in my surrounding over here in Germany think about you, and pray for you. We all admire your strength. Your powerful words will make a difference in the further awareness of people towards the death penalty.

Anonymous said...

My prayers are with Bill and his family. My Prayers are with the Griffins family. May Jesus touch all hearts and souls though this difficult time. (sorry for my grammar)

Anonymous said...

My husband Jerry has know Bill for years.....We are so saddened about his news....but feel better knowing that Bill is at peace.... He will be remembered by so many....through his life and his writings.....So sorry...may you be happy & free in the next life! :)
Jerry & Amy ( Island friends)

British ExPat said...

Bill and Lisa,

You are in my thoughts.

May you both find strength and peace during this difficult time.

Bill - for all those who revel in seeing the state kill living, sentient beings in cold blood, there are many more who are horrified by this government-sanctioned murder. I hope that you can find some comfort in the knowledge that the fight against the death penalty will go on and that one day we will succeed.

I have never met you, but I will never forget you.

Sending warm wishes and courage to you both. You are not alone.

Tim said...

Should be me with you in there, with you old friend. You were too good of a spirit to allow yourself not to get caught. Somebody somewhere said you were bad and you believed them. That's how it works unless you are aware of the trap. At 14 years old it seemed like a trap free world and we tried to own it. They took you and Lisa away. The court ordered us to never have contact again or the full weight of the law would consume you. They left me alone and I went on somehow making my way as a wolf among the flock. After a while I came to believe I was really a sheep after all. But they didn't leave you alone, did they. I suppose the lawyers and psychologists have to manufacture career criminals by institutional methods just to stay in business. They raise the wolves just to slaughter them and hold their severed heads high, "Look at the awesome power we have to keep you sheep safe. Worship us and our robes of justice."
I remember that 14 year old kid and he was not the villain so many have desperately tried to paint you.
You'd prefer to throw eggs at a foe than kill them.
They have done you so wrong.
So here is the real dope. Maybe they will kill you.
Some years after we were busted down by the canal I was in a horrible car accident. I remember being about 12 feet over the car looking down at my body. I was a bloody mess. I wasn't even shocked. I was just thinking, "Oh shit, I did it again." Suddenly I believe my heart started again and a blast of anxiousness came over me. In a split second I was back in my body, smack in the middle of the wreck. I was feeling pain from the heat of the engine which was smashed back into the cab. I looked around, everyone else was alive and trying to crawl out, so I did so as well.
I crawled to real freedom that day, Bill. I never feared death again. They may take your body and may they rot in hell for doing so, but you aren't going in the furnace with it. I have first hand proof, pal.
Just remember, don't buy into any consideration that if you are drugged in this life that that transfers to the next. A drugged state ends when the body dies. To not know this can mean trouble because in the afterlife it's all about CONSIDERATIONS. Reality as you consider it. Considerations are king in the between lives state, not actions.
If you consider yourself a rock, dude, you'll occupy a rock.
My advice, play the game again. Just next time when you are 14 and some delinquent comes around and says, "Hey, I got a great idea, let's rob a school or something-" Just don't.
I am sorry for any small or large part I may have played in how your life was influenced.
God's speed brother Bill
And BTW, I am so freaking amazed at what you managed to do with your life given the ridiculously limited resources that you've had.
You made me so very proud. Your writing is excellent.

Shirley said...

Bill,

This is Shirley and her family, we are thinking of you and praying that justice will be served and this date will come and go and you will still be with us.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the fact whether he was portrayed as the trigger man or not, under Florida law if a felony is committed and you are involved in it regardless if you pulled the trigger you are guilty of murder if a person is killed. I am sorry this happened to you however if you were not involved this would not be happening.

Eleanor Davis said...

To say should have, or could have at this point is pointless, Anon.The fact is my father has known Bill for a long time, and I feel like I know him thru his writing even though I have never spoken to him. He is an incredibly smart man and amazing writer. I just simply don't believe he deserves this fate.

Bill, not a day goes by where I don't think of you. You have been an inspiration to me to pursue justice through the power of words. You are amazing and I am in awe of you!

Anonymous said...

If Bill has to walk that walk that will be three valuable lives lost.

Anonymous said...

That is right, it is pointless...i know. But sometimes i feel an anger about him, cause he has so stupid actions then. I do not know what else to say after Elmer's gone, Bill will surely feel terribly. I wish his sister all the power of the world to accompany him with everything. It must be horrible for her too.

clara said...

there are no words within our human understanding that are fit to say to you.I am truly heart broken for youYour story brought tears to my eyes. I will definitely keep you in my prayers..

your friend clara

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jan Rutter said...

While this is a travesty for Bill and his family, let us not forget the pain that the Griffis family must be feeling, especially in light of the 26th anniversary of their loved one's death just around the corner. BOTH the Van Poyck family and the Griffis family will feel the pain of death for a very long time. My heart aches for Fred Griffis's family and his friends as well as his colleagues who have put their lives on the line for so many. Fred did that too and he died a decorated war veteran and a hero.

I am sure his family was, and still is very proud of him and misses him terribly. Now, sadly another family (Bill's family) will also experience that dreadful pain of losing a loved one. Somehow, this death will be different. Who can possibly imagine what it is like to watch the clock tick away the moments you have left before you KNOW your loved one is going to be killed? As a family friend, I feel that awful pain in my heart every day. I feel it for Bill, and for his FAMILY! I know there are a lot of people that want Bill dead.... but will that bring Fred Griffis back? It won't. It will only bring MORE pain to MORE people.

I know that Bill made a terrible choice on that fateful day when he chose to help his friend escape from prison, but I also know Bill is not a murderer or a monster like many have painted him out to be. He has great remorse and regret for the horrific outcome of his planned prison break. He never ever expected or planned it to end up the way it did. But, tragically, it did and he has had to live with that fact for the last 26 years in a cell on death row. He cares deeply about the feeling of the Griffis family and I know he has reached out to them in the past (although we do not know if they ever received his letters.)

Let’s also think about the pain that the family of Frank Valdez has been through. NO parent wants to see their child go down a path that leads to destruction. That is painful enough, but then to realize that child has KILLED someone. --- well, that must have been more horrifying than words can express, for all of his family. Then to add to that pain, a group of prison guards murdered their child in prison – by brutally beating him to death. These prison guards were cold blooded murderers and they all got off, scott-free! Where is the justice in that?

It is so sad, all three families (Griffis’, Van Poycks and Valdezs) are in a great deal of pain. Let us all keep Bill in our prayers as he faces each day that he has left on this earth, and lets ALSO keep these three families in our prayers as well, that God comfort them and give their hearts peace, forgiveness and freedom from pain. The only way to TRULY be free from all this PAIN is to forgive. Forgiveness is the only true way to freedom.

And if Bill is executed on June 12th, he will FINALLY, for the first time in his life be truly FREE! No more cement cells, concrete walls and steel doors and bars! He will meet Jesus face to face and run to the loving arms of the One that has forgiven him first. I believe that Fred will be there too and they will have a truly supernatural, glorious meeting -- where ALL there questions of "why? & how?" will be answered. I pray that the Griffis, the Valdez and Van Poyck families can begin healing soon and maybe comfort one another one day. God bless you Bill. I KNOW I will see you in Heaven! And God bless you Lisa allowing the viewers to meet and get to know the real Bill through this wonderful Blog! God bless all three of these families.

Anonymous said...

Marlene said ;)

My stomach feels like a wrecking ball hit it and my mind is spinning with so many sad thoughts of how badly our world needs Bill. I am not sure how I am going to face the world without him as I too desperately need him. He has given me so much in this last 8 months from the first letter I sent with a paper butterfly to my moment of now. Seeing myself through Bills eyes has opened my heart and spirit to love in abundance as his words of encouragement and praise helped to heal a little girl’s pain. I will never be the same having known such a loving, compassionate, brilliant and very funny man. I will always tie Bill’s knots in my rope to hold on to as I climb down to another day……now that our souls have united I will never be alone. See ya on the other side sweetheart

Traci Francis said...

As someone who has been very close to Bill for over 20 years, I want to make sure everyone knows he has been extremely upset and remorseful that Fred Griffis lost his life. Bill does not take this lightly and he has not since it happened on June 24, 1987. He admits there was a terrible wrong done with a resulting extreme loss. I speak for both Bill and myself when I state that: The death of Fred Griffis has never been forgotten and never will be irrespective of the outcome of Bill’s fate. The loss the Griffis family has endured is tragic. Bill will tell you that stating he is sorry and remorseful does not adequately express his feelings.

About 15 years ago, Bill reached out to a nun involved with Florida State Prison, Sister Catherine, to relay a letter he wrote to the Griffis family. We do not know if that letter reached the family.

Please consider the supporters Bill has currently, and the supporters who have never left him since this tragic event took place. If Bill were not the wonderful, amazing, and kind man we have all been touting, we would not be standing by his side. He is and has been devastated that Fred lost his life that day.

Bill will be expressing his thoughts on the blog for all to see. Lisa will post his letter as soon as she receives it.

Respectfully,

Traci Francis

Anonymous said...

Sad, but like i could read, there is nothing left between Bill and the dead. I hope he is in peace after all that time and may realize that he is free then. Lisa, stay with your head up high, you did what you could and nothing is your fault. Wishing you th power to let him go now.