Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bill's Final two Blog Posts

Dear Readers:

I have received Bill's final two blog posts:

June 3, 2013

Dear Sis~

Ten days 'till departure time. You already know that they killed my neighbor, Elmer, 5 days ago. Then they moved me into his cell. After they execute someone they move the rest of us down one cell, working our way to cell#1, the launching pad to the gurney next door.  This is a bad luck cell; very few of us get out of here alive!  In two days I'll go onto Phase II and they'll move all  my property from my cell, and post a guard in front of my cell 24/7 to record everything I do.  These will be hectic days, freighted with emotion, all the final letters, all the final phone calls, final visits, final goodbyes.  Things have become even more regimented as "established procedures" increasingly take over.  More cell front visits from high ranking administration and DOC officials asking if everything is O.K., forms to fill out (cremation or burial?).  I declined the offer of a "last meal".  I'm not interested in participating in that time-worn ritual, to feed some reporter's breathless post-execution account.  Besides, material gratification will be the last thing on my mind as I prepare to cross over to the non-material planes.  Watching Elmer go through his final days really drove home how ritualized this whole process has become; the ritual aspect perhaps brings some numbing comfort - or sense of purpose - to those not really comfortable with this whole killing people scheme.  This is akin to participating in a play where the participants step to a rote cadence, acting out their parts in the script, with nobody pausing to question the underlying premise.  It's like a Twilight Zone episode where you want to grab someone, shake them hard, and yell "Hey, wake up! Don't you know what's going on here?!!!"  

My very accelerated appeal is before the Florida Supreme Court; my brief is due today, (Monday), the state's brief tomorrow and oral arguments are scheduled for Thursday June 6th (D-Day Anniversary).  I expect an immediate ruling, or perhaps on Friday.  By the time you read this you'll already know the result and since there's no higher court to go to on this you'll know if I live or die on June 12th.  I am not optimistic, Sis.  Although I have some substantial, compelling issues, as you know (e.g., my appointed direct appeal attorney who turned out to be a mentally ill, oft-hospitalized, crack head, convicted of cocaine possession and subsequently disbarred whose incompetence sabotaged my appeal) the law provides the courts with countless ways to deny a prisoner any appellate review of even the most meritorious claims.  I won't turn this into a discourse on legal procedures; but many years of observation has taught me that once a death warrant is signed it's near impossible to stop the  momentum of that train.  Issues that would normally offer you some relief, absent a warrant, suddenly become "meritless" under the tension of a looming execution date.  Nobody wants to be the one to stop an execution, it's almost sacrilegious.  

So many people are praying and fighting to save my life that I am loathe to express any pessimism, as if that's a betrayal of those supporting me.  And, there is some hope, at least for a stay of execution.  But honestly my worst fear is a temporary stay of 20, 30 days.  Unless a stay results in my lawyers digging up some new, previously undiscovered substantial claim that will get me a new sentencing hearing, a stay simply postpones the inevitable.  What I don't want is to be back here in the same position in 30 days, forcing you and all my loved ones to endure another heart-breaking cycle of final goodbyes.  I cannot ask that of them.  I'd rather just go on June 12th and get this over with.          This may be disappointing to those who are trying so hard to extend my life, even for a few days, but there it is.

Time - that surprisingly subjective, abstract concept - is becoming increasingly compressed for me.  I'm staying rooted in the here and now, not dwelling on the past or anxiously peering into the future, but inhabiting each unfolding moment as it arrives in my consciousness (F.Y.I., I highly recommend The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, for anyone facing imminent execution!)  I'm still able to see the beauty of this world, and value the kindness of the many beautiful souls who work tirelessly to make this a better place.  I am calm and very much at peace, Sis, so don't worry about my welfare down here on death watch.  I will endure this without fear, and with as much grace as I can summon.  Whatever happens, it's all good, it's just the way it's supposed to be.
             Much Love, 

June 12, 2013

Dear Sis,

If you are reading this, I have gone the way of the earth, my atonement fulfilled. When your tears have dried—as they will—and you look up at the sky, allow yourself to smile when you think of me, free at last. Though I have departed my physical vehicle, know that my soul—timeless, boundless and eternal—soars joyfully among the stars.

Despite my many flaws on earth, I was blessed to be loved by so many special souls who saw past my feet of clay and into my heart. Know that in my final hours, it was that love which sustained my spirit and brought me peace. Love, like our souls, is eternal and forever binds us, and in due time it will surely draw us all back together again. Until then, Godspeed to you and all who have loved me!
                                                                                                       Light & Love,

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 12, 2013

Dear Readers~

On June 12, 2013 at 7:13pm my brother, William, took his last breath on this earth and began his journey to the other side. His last words were, "Set me Free!" and his soul is indeed free now to continue his work helping others.  Awaiting him were my mother and father with open arms and other family members and friends who went before. William's reunion with his loved ones is a joyous event.  

Across the street from Florida State Prison a vigil gathering honored William's life and the people who tirelessly seek to abolish the death penalty. Mark Elliott of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty gave the opening speech and I was able to read an excerpt from William's blog.  Two of Florida's recent exonerees from Death Row, Seth Penalver and Herman Lindsey, held a bell which people rang with a hammer while reciting quotes of love and hope.  The Gainesville Citizens against the Death Penalty read a thank you letter from William encouraging them in their fight against capital punishment.

As William's final minutes on earth were approaching, a butterfly came nearby and gently flew around me while a beautiful cumulus cloud above the prison formed a silver lining at the top edges.  The sun behind the cloud rose through the top edge and a golden sunburst crowned the cloud.  I had the distinct impression of William rising above the earth and soaring to the heavens.  I felt his presence in my heart and a calm enveloped me as I realized he was finally free and flying home on wings of Light.

I was reminded of my final visit with him earlier that morning when he embraced me, Traci and Jan and with a radiant smile on his face said, "How can I be sad with all this immense love flowing into my heart from you and everyone who is sending their Love?  My heart is overflowing."  

William only thought of others and was so humbled by the outpouring of love and kindness he received from loved ones and people all over the world he never knew before.  His life has made an astounding impact on others and his writing will continue to do so.

There are two final blog entries that I will receive when I arrive in California and will post from there.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

May 28, 2013

Dear Sis~
Tomorrow Elmer will be executed and I'll be next up to bat, with 15 days to live.   A situation like this tends to make you reflect on the elusive nature of time itself, which some folks - physicists and metaphysicists alike - claim is an illusion anyway. Real or not it sure seems to be going someplace quickly!

This may be my last letter to reach you before you begin your journey down south to be by my side for my final days. These many visits I've recently received from those who love me have been a blessing for me.  I'm acutely aware that some guys on death watch have absolutely nobody to help them bear their burden during their last days and hours on earth, not a soul willing to share some love.  It's a terrible thing to die all alone...  I continue to be inundated with letters of support and love from around the world, many from kind-hearted strangers, and many similar blog posts which you've shared with me.  Many are very moving, and all are deeply appreciated. I am humbled.  While I've answered many I simply cannot respond to them all in my allotted time remaining.  As my shortening days inexorably telescope down my focus turns ever inward as I wrestle with the timeless questions of the universe that have puzzled man since the dawn of consciousness here on Schoolhouse Earth.

I read in a recent newspaper article that the brother and sister of Fred Griffis, the victim in my case, are angry that I'm still alive and eager for my execution.  These are understandable human feelings.  I have a brother and sister myself and I cannot honestly say how I would deal with it if something happened to you or Jeff at the hands of another.  I have thought of Fred many times over the years and grieved over his senseless death.  I feel bad for Fred's siblings though if seeing another human being die will truly give them pleasure.  I suspect when I'm gone, if they search their hearts, they will grasp the emptiness of the closure promised by the revenge of capital punishment.  There's a lot of wisdom in the old saying "An eye for an eye soon makes the whole world blind."

All is well with me here in the death house.  I've been blessed with a strong body and a stout mind and spirit, more than sufficient to see me through this final passage.  The deep love of others, freely given to me by those I'm honored to call my friends, helps ease the journey.  The one thing I am absolutely certain of after 58 years on this rock is that LOVE is the foundation of the cosmos, the very essence of what we call God.  This is the one lesson we all must learn, and will learn in due time, and which gives me my peace.

Light & Love,

May 22,2013

Dear Sis~

I have 21 days left to live.  The fickleness, the arbitrariness, the fleeting nature of life itself is on display daily throughout our world but as good an example as any occurred here on Monday morning when, as I was being dressed out here on Q-Wing for a visit, a sudden radio call brought the wing officers rushing upstairs where they found a prisoner (non-death row) hanging in his cell.  After 20+ years in prison this guy (Earl) had finally given in to the utter hopelessness that can seize the heart and spirit of any man mired forever in an American maximum security prison.  The irony wasn't lost on me that while 3 of us on death watch are fighting to live, this poor soul, living just 10 feet above us, stripped of all hope, had voluntarily surrendered his life rather than continue his dismal existence.  When nothing but a lifetime of suffering lays ahead - with no hope, no promise, no opportunity to change your fate - the idea of utter annihilation can come to look appealing in contrast.  When everything has been taken from you, the one thing you have left, that nobody can take away, is the decision to live or die.  In that context choosing death can look like freedom.  I've been there myself, I understand the depth of despair and regret that can constrict your heart until all hope is wrung out and life itself is a bitter gall caught in your throat.  Death, like despair, permeates this wing like a suffocating shroud, this forlorn cellblock with its long and well-traveled history of violent murders, despondent suicides and extended litany of executions.

Today my neighbor, Elmer, went on Phase II of death watch, which begins 7 days prior to execution.  They remove all your property from your cell while an officer sits in front of your cell 24/7 recording everything you do.  Staff also performs a "dry run" or "mock execution", basically duplicating the procedures that will occur 7 days later.  This is when you know you're making the final turn off the back stretch, you know your death is imminent, easily within reach, you can count it by hours instead of by days.  Right now I'm on deck; when Elmer goes I'll be up to bat (that's enough sports metaphors for now).

I just learned today that the Florida Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, has denied our motion for a stay of execution and the attorneys' motions to withdraw, and has ordered these 3 different attorneys to represent me - over their vigorous objections that they are unqualified and unfamiliar with my case - on the eve of my execution.  It's a circus and a farce; nothing like this has happened in Florida and it's setting a bad precedent.  The media are running with the story (Florida is looking really bad in this matter, the butt of jokes in the legal community) but the Supreme Court, or at least 4 of the 7 Justices, are doggedly determined to kill me on June 12, lawyers or no lawyers, and nobody can tell them otherwise.  They've decided to "pretend" I have legal representation (not competent, or qualified representation, just representation in name only) and let it go at that.

I'm being overwhelmed with letters of support from around the world and across the country, often from people I don't know, who thank me for positively impacting their lives (or lives of a loved one) through my writings, either my books, or short stories, or the blog posts.  I will not be able to reply to all these letters in the short time I have  left here on Schoolhouse Earth, but I am moved and humbled by these messages. I am not unusual in wanting to believe, at the end of my line, that my life counted for something good, that I had some positive influence on someone, that my life made a difference, that I was able to at least partially atone for the many mistakes I made earlier in life.  There's not much you can do in that direction from the confines of a cell; writing is about the only available vehicle that can transcend the prison bars.  That was the only tool I had, and I tried to use it in a positive, productive manner.  These letters tell me I succeeded and that counts for a lot in my heart.

That's it for now, Sis.  Give yourself a big hug for me, and a tummy rub for the doggies!

                       Love & Peace,