Jeff’s Voice; Capital Punishment

We’re off lockdown again, but for how long, who knows? I imagine you are as sick of hearing about lockdown as I am of living it. I’ve got a big complex about being locked down, especially considering that I haven’t violated any rules. It’s insult to injury, really, in every possible way.

The punishment of inmates – loss of privileges for something they didn’t do, or that they have no control over, actually creates the opposite of the desired effect.

Surely Administration can come to this realization if I can. Don’t lose sight of the fact that there is no due process in any of this, not even a hint of it. This style of blanket punishment is extremely volatile and more dangerous than the original reason for the lockdown. Especially for the safety of the guards here.

A large faction of the prison population already lives by the “nothing to lose” mentality, and for the most part, prisoners are given privileges as a measure to control them and promote SOME peace and order. So, when guys that already have nothing to lose are unjustly punished, by losing all, what incentive do they have to walk the line?

Anyway, enough with the lockdown dissent. I’ve deviated from what I intended to write about.

First and foremost; I’m doing okay and my family and friends seem to be doing okay, too.

My case is progressing slower than I’d like, but at least it is progressing in the right direction. Still, it’s a matter of “hurry up and wait.” I know this is a jaded attitude, but you hope for the best and expect the worst. Actually, to be really honest, my faith in the truth overrules the jaded mentality.

I’m not looking for special treatment, Rather, all I want is fair treatment. Hope springs eternal.

Hope springs eternal for many other reasons. It’s a brand new baseball season. Like all fans of the game, early spring is a wonderful time and full of expectations and possibilities. As they say, every team is in first place on Opening Day. I really hope the Red Sox do well this season. Since we finished in last place last season, there’s nowhere to go but up. I do have reasonably high hopes this year. Guess all of Sox Nation does since the club just gave a contract to one pitcher worth well over 200 million dollars over seven years. It must be nice to make that kind of money playing the game you love.

One day, when exoneration comes my way, as it should, since I am surely innocent, I hope to become a member of Witness to Innocence. Given the chance, I believe I’d do well speaking about the horrors, and, believe it or not, the decent times that you experience in an ordeal like mine. But not just to speak out on the legal reasons why and how the innocent are wrongfully convicted, but to also shine a light on the fundamental absurdity of capital punishment.

For instance, the process is so arbitrary. One jury will give a life sentence to a man for a crime far worse than a man that receives the death penalty. Or, for an almost identical crime, one gets life but the other death. And how many cases are the people who are paying attention seeing two or more defendants for a particular crime? I’ve lost count of the times that the actual killer will get a life sentence, but the other defendant will get death because they were present or somehow involved in the underlying felony, though they killed no one at all.

I get the Felony Murder Rule meaning, but how can it be justified that the actual murderer receives a mere life sentence?

Yep, that’s some real JUSTICE by the state. Oh, almost forgot, how many millionaires are on death row in America? And one more thing, Since I have been here, I have seen 12 men executed. Ten of those men were white but death row here is split squarely down the middle regarding race. I could stand on a soapbox all day about the utter ridiculousness of capital punishment. I haven’t even skimmed the surface of my ocean of reasoning on this topic.

Let me digress a bit here…I’d also like to be a witness to my experience of the humanity of a place like this. I’ve come to know that there are four types of condemned men here, so I assume (naturally) that it is universal for all of the hell holes. First you have the innocents, perhaps not as few and far between as people tend to think. I am sure I am not the only innocent here. Then there are the insane and/or mentally deficient. You have guys that are guilty of the crime, that made a terrible choice and are remorseful that likely if given a chance at freedom, would never break another law. Then, of course you’ve got the guys that the gallows were supposedly made for. The kind of guy that if given the opportunity, would do the exact same thing that they were convicted of, or worse. The kind who mock everything that is good and wear evil like a badge of honor.

But who am I to judge a persons worth or culpability when it comes to life or death? If you believe in God then you believe He is the spark of life. Logically, only He could and/or should snuff out the light of life, especially when it comes to judgment by fallible humans. So, if by nature man is fallible, then man’s legal process is too, right? Again, who am I to judge a man on the ultimate punishment? Let’s just leave it up to an imperfect legal process and twelve of our fallible peers.

Stepping off the soapbox again, for now.


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Jeff’s Voice; Waiting

Well, the final filing on my case has been before the trial court for several months now.

I wonder how long it will take for the court’s decision, or rather, their compliance with the Mississippi Supreme Court’s unanimous order for me to be able to pursue the new evidence in my case? How long should this take? How long should it take for the court to take advantage of this opportunity to set right all that is wrong?

It’s been FOURTEEN YEARS since this nightmare began, and throughout the hellish duration of this appellate process the most difficult part of it all is the waiting. The waiting between a final filing and a court’s decision. It’s the realization that I’ve done and said what I can within the bar set by the Mississippi Supreme Court in the the filing, and now it’s out of my control and in someone else’s hands.

This portion of time could drive me crazy. Truly. Not because I don’t have confidence in the filing, but because I generally lack confidence in the decision making process. The anxiety I experience is drawn from the thoughts of whether or not the decision makers are fair or even care about the truth or facts. Sadly, all too often the “facts” do not reflect the truth, and truth and justice have little in common. Even sadder is that this has been my experience throughout the entire process.

It is nothing short of this; because of my ignorance of medical science I could not explain why I am innocent, thus unable to meet the burden of proof improperly placed on me. Therefore, as the state argued to the jury, my inability to explain “it” was the proof of my guilt.

Throughout the appellate process the oppositions line of defense has been nothing but direct factual contradictions and a line of Catch-22’s.

I’ve digressed a bit from what I wanted to say about the waiting. Like the song says, “the waiting is the hardest part”.  Also, with a play on words from another song, “this waiting turns hours into days”. Torturous.

It seems the more favorable to me the evidence becomes, the more dilatory the process becomes.

Somehow, though, I’ve remained hopeful in the process of justice and truth. That they will eventually prove to be one and the same.

And I’m still waiting…


I would like to mention that February 21st marked the anniversary of the accident and Chloe’s death. If only we could have that one second in time back again…

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The Defense’s Rebuttal to the State;

“Jeff Havard’s defense team recently filed their response to the State’s opposition for post-conviction relief. There is absolutely no reason to deny Jeff a hearing at this point. His argument for innocence has never been stronger. The prosecution’s case has been completely shredded”.
Reply To State’s Response In Opposition To Petition For Post-Conviction Relief
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Jeff’s Voice; Lockdown

Well, we are on lockdown AGAIN! It’s no big deal for death row since we’re always locked down. Lockdown for those that live here is the loss of yard privileges, canteen and limited showers. But when those things are the all some guys have, it really matters to them.

Recently, a lieutenant in the building next to mine was stabbed by a state inmate. This immediately got the entire unit locked down. Then there was an inmate-on-inmate stabbing in another building ( while we were on lockdown). How’d that happen?

We were finally taken off lockdown Friday, but the following day another guard was stabbed. So we’re back on lockdown AGAIN.

I can understand a person’s fervor against prisoners’ rights and privileges, but only to an extent. Just as there are rights and due process in society, the same goes for those who are incarcerated. But to take an inmate’s privileges for something he did not do, much less has no clue about, is just wrong.

The fact that assaults continue to happen, even while on lockdown, just goes to show that lockdowns aren’t necessarily effective. They obviously keep occurring despite this “punishment”.

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Jeff’s Voice; Justice?

I know it’s been a while since I have written. I couldn’t buy stamps as we get no canteen when the prison is on lockdown and it was several weeks this time, but I have stamps now. Hopefully, there will be no more lockdowns for a while.

I watched an episode of 60 Minutes last night and I saw a piece about a man, (Glenn Ford) that spent 30 years on Louisiana’s death row for a crime he didn’t commit.

The best part was that the DA that was responsible for his conviction, (Marty Stroud) seemed to be sincerely tormented by his role in Glenn Ford’s conviction. It seemed he was really trying to atone for it.

However, the current DA for Caddo Parish, (Dale Cox) was asked if he thought what happened to Glenn Ford was fair. Cox said it was justice. It was justice because, during those 30 years, Mr. Ford was not executed.

Apparently, fairness and justice are two different things or ideas. In my almost 14 years of hell, I’ve come to realize the chasm there. All I want is fairness or equality, but the State wants justice, which seemingly isn’t the same thing.

When did justice become something other than fair, equal, truth, (pick your word) etc.? Maybe when “winning” replaced those words.

All of this reminds me of several things about my case. As you know, there is a lot of newly discovered evidence in my case that proves what I have been saying happened all along. A portion of the State’s contention is that: for the sake of finality and justice the sentence of death should be carried out, (despite the new evidence) because the courts have already affirmed my conviction (before any of the newly discovered evidence was in litigation).

Another favorite contention of theirs is this: that all of this newly discovered evidence isn’t really new, but should have and could have been discovered before trial; while maintaining that my ineffective counsel claims are moot, because they believed my counsel was effective and just fine, though they did absolutely NO independent investigation at all.

The State’s one and only qualified and tendered expert witness stated (recently) that he never saw evidence of sexual battery, and that he never thought there was a sexual battery though this never came out during my trial. Now the State claims that this is not new evidence because this has always been the opinion of this expert. But before this information came to light, the State asserted at my trial, and no less than 17 times, over a decade, in their responses, that this expert believed there was a sexual battery.

So, for more than a decade the State has asserted and maintained that this expert found evidence of sexual battery, but when the information that the expert never found evidence of it and that there was no sexual battery was revealed, the State now claims it’s not new evidence because it’s always been known that the only expert never found evidence of or thought there was sexual battery.

This sole expert’s opinion – in 2002 – was the “make or break” in the charge of sexual battery and the sexual battery was the reason I was sentenced to death.

Also, the State asserts it was MY fault that I didn’t discover the evidence that came from THEIR star expert witness; hence, evidence THEY obviously knew about and were obligated by law to share with me.

Supposedly, it’s MY fault that I did not discover something they already knew and were obligated to share with me? Something that I did not know existed and they did? Is it my fault that I am not psychic, too?

It was also my fault that I, a 23-year-old layman, could not explain anal dilation, something only an expert is qualified to explain, an expert that I never had, an expert that was never contacted by my counsel. Again, MY fault for not being a pathologist/expert or a psychic?

As with Glenn Ford, you could go on for hours about the injustice here, or should I call it inequality, unfairness or untruthfulness, since justice doesn’t equate with those words anymore?

Hopefully, someday, for everyone’s sake justice will again be and remain what we all expect it to mean.

As in many cases and certainly in mine, the truth is also very much the victim.

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Jeff’s Voice: A Nightmare While Awake

I know some people may question a few things concerning my case, and I am also aware that many others have misconceptions regarding the same.

Baby Choe’s Death

The night of Chloe’s tragic death, I was taken from the hospital bat around 10:30 PM in the back of a sheriff’s car. When we arrived at the jail, I was placed in a room where I wasn’t permitted to use the phone. My pleas to speak to a guard or prison official were ignored, despite my repeated requests.

Chloe passed away at 10:55 pm. I didn’t know this at the time, as I was sitting at the police station for close to four hours.

When I was brought into the interrogation room, I found out Chloe had died in the following way: Immediately after sitting in a chair, I was advised me of my rights and my right to an attorney (which I understood and informed them that I didn’t need a lawyer, I hadn’t done anything wrong). To that, the deputy replied to me, “Jeffrey, Chloe is dead and she’s been raped, son, she’s ripped from end to end. This is a crime that carries the death penalty, so if you don’t tell us exactly what happened, you’ll be put to death, executed right up there at Parchman for this”.

Keep in mind, my head was spinning pretty much from the moment Becky carried Chloe from the bedroom. When they told me this, there weren’t any dramatic pauses or anything. Just as fast as you can say those words was the same amount of time I had to digest them. Like I said, I was already freaked out, and then hearing this, well, it was impossible to process. I mean what the hell could I say except bullshit and no, you’re lying, etc.? I don’t recall exactly what my words were to that, but you can imagine. I was horrified and in disbelief. It was like trying to wake up from a nightmare.

I asked how Chloe died, and they wouldn’t or couldn’t tell me how or why. To me this seemed like the least of their concerns, I was asking how she died and their responses were all about rape, rape, rape. All I could do was sit there looking angry and stupid. They told me they’d be doing a DNA rape/assault kit on me. I said something along the lines of, “Damned right you will…then you’ll know I didn’t do this”. The encounter didn’t last much longer. I was placed back in the holding cell/drunk tank, (I hadn’t been arrested yet). I kept asking to use the phone to let my grandparents know what was going on, but they refused to let me.

I sat there until Saturday. I was in shock, I think. At the hospital, right before I was taken to the station, a doctor or nurse had first come out and said Chloe may have been having an allergic reaction. Then she came out and said that Chloe was “pinking up” and had a 150 bpm heart rate, so it sounded like she was going to be okay.

I have never really been able to mourn Chloe properly because I was immediately accused of a horrible, disgusting crime. I would never have hurt her on purpose. I cared very much about her. The hardest days of the year for me are August 29th, her birthday, and February 21st, the day she died.

In the mornings, I would often get up with Chloe and let Becky sleep in. I had a surround sound system and I would turn on “Blue’s Clues”. I would watch her try to follow the sounds coming from the different speakers. It was so funny. Once, I stuck her, in her carseat, in the middle of all her stuffed animals and Becky came out of the kitchen and asked where Chloe was. We all laughed when Becky realized she hadn’t seen her in the stuffed animals.

I think often of what Chloe missed. She never had an ice cream cone. She never had a first day of school or a summer vacation. She would have been 14 this year. She will never get to be 14. It causes me great pain.

On Saturday, I was taken to the hospital so they could do the DNA sexual-assault kit on me. The whole time I felt hopeful because I knew I hadn’t done what I was accused of. And I knew DNA tests would prove it. Boy, was I so naive.

After we got back to the jail, I was handed an official arrest affidavit for capital murder. I was placed in a cell, in a block of cells, with no one else on the block. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

I had been cooperative, except for being angry and belligerent for being constantly accused of raping and killing a child! I mean, who wouldn’t be? Not long after I was placed in the empty cell block, I made myself read the actual arrest warrant, and it said that Chloe died as a result of a subdural hemorrhage…this was the moment when I knew (somewhat) what was going on, or how Chloe had died.

I got the jailers attention – it took a long time but when I did, I told them I needed to talk to the Deputy’s. It took a some more time before I was brought down to be questioned. Again I waived my right to an attorney, etc. because I wasn’t guilty of anything.

I explained to them how I accidently dropped Chloe and how very quickly she appeared to be okay. Becky had thought she was okay. After I told them what happened, they seemed content with what I had said, except they kept asking me about the rape. How this, how that and on and on. All I could do is ask them what in the hell were they talking about and to say I did not do that. It was as if that was all that they were worried about, just rape, rape, rape, over and over again.

I thought to myself that they had to be lying or there is something seriously wrong with their information. I kept thinking, why would a cop, or anyone, come up with a lie so vile and evil? But the disparaging remarks kept coming my way. A continuous barrage. Their demeanor, the veracity in their voices almost had me believing there was a rape. But who? Who could or would do something like that?

I knew damned good and well that I did no such thing. Again, during this interrogation, it was very testy, because of the outrageous accusations being leveled at me. I believe I said something like, “You’re both sick for even thinking this”, because by now, I was convinced that they were lying or didn’t know what they’re talking about…(turns out, in long overdue hindsight, that it was a little of both, but more of the latter).

Keep in mind all of this was before they ever turned on the video recorder. There were about two hours of this barrage before the video was even turned on. I asked twice for a polygraph, but they refused that.

During this (unrecorded) questioning, there was a mention of Chloe’s diaper rash. She had always had diaper rash, but I was trying to be helpful as possible, so I asked them if maybe the towel I dried Chloe off with could have irritated the rash. All they would say is that, no, she was ripped from end to end, even though we were talking about diaper rash. When I was telling them about the towel, I said maybe I went too far in on her, but I didn’t mean internally, inside her body. That’s not what I said. I meant the space between the buttocks, the gluteus fold. I thought the towel may have irritated the diaper rash. IF that was supposedly an admission of anything, why didn’t they stop right then and there and tell me to elaborate on that statement?

You know, when the cops read you your rights and say, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law”, they really need to amend it to say, “whatever you say will be taken out of context and/or distorted to be used against you.

So, don’t say anything at all and then they cannot twist what you don’t say. Believe me, now I know exactly why you should have an attorney present while you’re being questioned. But for my part, naivete ruled the day and I have suffered for it.

At trial, the most egregious element – and what kept me from receiving a directed verdict – was the anal dilation, which as a layman, I certainly had no clue about but after the long arduous years on death row the truth has come out.

At trial, the state went to great lengths to show the jury that I could not explain this dilation, (the dilation was, according to the state, sexual battery) but it turns out this dilation is caused by a TBI (traumatic brain injury). All of the medical authority in this case – to date – verifies this. Even Dr. Hayne – remember, my lawyers never spoke with Dr. Hayne even though the state and the trial court suggested they do so, and Dr. Hayne did not think a sexual assault happened. But, in fact, my lawyers never spoke with any expert despite knowing they should have. It was their JOB.

So my directed verdict went basically like this; my lawyer asked for a directed verdict, saying the jury could see the death occurred from an accidental fall, that there was no confession, no eyewitnesses, and the state had not proven sexual abuse. The court stated basically, there was NO CONFESSION, NO EYEWITNESSES, and the jury COULD see the death occurred from the fall – BUT, I (HAVARD) HAD NO EXPLANATION FOR THE DILATION.

So, my life is ruined and I am sent to death row because I can’t explain something only a medical professional, i.e. expert, can explain. An expert which I didn’t have. A kind of cruel Catch-22. Put the burden on me to explain something only an expert can explain, but provide no expert to help me meet this burden. That is not how our judicial system is supposed to work.

Dr. Hayne’s revelation that he didn’t see evidence of a sexual battery or that he found no evidence that anything like that had ever happened did not come out at trial.

The state – at trial – told the jury that I “hurt that baby” and that I couldn’t explain the dilation.

The court refused to grant a directed verdict for this same reason.

Turns out, I did explain it to the best of my knowledge, (but unknown to me).  I also now know that there were other medical explanations that likely caused her death that were set into motion by the fall, but in 2002 I had no one to explain it to me, so I COULD explain it to the court.

The Traumatic Brain Injury explains the very (non-criminal) reason for which they want to execute me.

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Jeff’s Voice; Set Up?

Two months ago I didn’t want to write about this, I actually swore the few people that knew to secrecy.

I was viciously assaulted by another death row inmate while I was at visitation with my grandmother.

I didn’t want to share this, not that I have anything to hide, but to shield you from the horror of what happened on May 19th. I guess in a way it was hiding, so to speak. Instinctively, though, I feel that I should hide all the horrible parts of my incarceration because I don’t want to cause more worry for you than I already have.

I struggled with revealing this or not. When I decided to do this blog it was for the purpose of exposing and expressing my life as an innocent person on death row. Therefore, I will write about this because it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t. So…

I was having a great visit with my grandma, as always. We were talking about old times with my grandpa. As you can imagine, the grief we share is still very raw, even at this moment.

Towards the end of our visit, I saw an inmate lunging at me out of the corner of my eye. Keep in mind that as a death row inmate, though wrongfully, I am in full restraints – both wrists and ankles chains and on top of that, the ankle restraints are chained to the stool I am sitting on.

Every death row inmate is supposed to be restrained this way, except this inmate was completely out of his restraints, free of custody and barreling towards me.

My first thought was to wonder if he was coming at me or someone else. A nano-second later, I realized it was me. He cocked his fist back as he was running towards me to punch me.

I was a sitting duck with no range of motion, no way to defend myself or fight back, so all I could do was duck and turn my head so that I wouldn’t get punched in the face. At the same time, I am thinking to myself, “Oh, shit! What the hell”?

Because my head was turned away I didn’t really have a good look at his hands, so I was very worried that he may have a knife or a shank.

Then the first blow hit me on the side of my head, then the blows from both his hands began on both sides of my head. I pulled my hands up to cover my neck and my face, still wondering if I was about to be stabbed.

My face was as far as I could move my hands. I certainly couldn’t move away from him, deflect his punches or punch back.

I looked up through the glass at my grandma and saw something I never want to see again. There are no words to describe the look of horror on her face mixed with her screams for help.

The was not one guard around, not on my side in a locked room, nor on her side in a locked room. When the guards came, none of them had the key to the rooms and had to go and find the keyholder. Odd, huh?

After I don’t know how many blows to me neck and head area, I finally fell off the stool, (that my legs are cuffed to) onto the floor. As I was falling, I looked at my grandmother again and thought to myself, “Please don’t let her witness my murder”. I was still wondering if he had a shank.

You’d be surprised at the amount of thoughts that can cross your mind in the blink of an eye. I thought, ” She just buried my grandpa, I don’t want her to have to bury me”.

As I hit the floor, he started kicking and stomping on my head, neck and upper back area. I was laying on my back when I hit the floor. He stomped me in the temple before I could manage to flip over onto my stomach so my vitals wouldn’t be so exposed. I was reacting on instinct, moving and contorting my body and head as best I could to absorb the kicks and stomps from him. I was still worried he may have a shank. Then I remember visualizing in my mind the plot in the cemetery where my grandpa is buried.

Amidst all the testosterone and the adrenaline coursing through my body, I felt a calmness come over me. I thought about Pawpaw and how I may be meeting him on the other side sooner than I thought. I guessed I’d be buried right beside him in a few days. A part of me resigned myself to the situation and was accepting of it, and a huge part of me just wanted to be with my grandpa again, either in this temporal realm or the spiritual realm.

I didn’t want to die, but if I did, I’d see my grandpa again. I was okay with it, either way.

Meanwhile, the beating continued. By this time I figured he did not have a shank, so I just told myself not to lose consciousness and not to let him kick my teeth out. I was on my stomach with my hands covering my face and neck.

Finally, after what seemed like an hour, a bunch of guards came and unlocked the door through the door, eventually breaking up the assault.

He told me, “Next time I’ll fucking kill you”, to which I replied, “Like you weren’t trying to now. If you weren’t so damned weak you would have”.

I was taken to the prison hospital where they X-rayed my head. No fractures. They did not do an MRI. I think they should have done one. I still have headaches, blurry vision, and memory issues four months later, but when I asked to talk to the nurse, she said I was just dehydrated. Right.

My head, neck and ears were red and blue. I had about fifty knots all over my head. My head felt like an elephant was sitting on it, like it was about to explode.

I was able to call my grandma a few hours later to let her know I would be okay and for her not to worry. I told her I was a true Havard, and that was a good thing since our heads are so hard!

Now, to add insult to injury, because I plan to seek a judicial review of this assault, I have to come up with a Four Hundred Dollar filing fee. Also, unless I find a lawyer to help me, I will have to proceed pro se, which I don’t mind doing if I have to.

The fact that he was able to use some type of key to completely remove his restraints, unnoticed and undeterred by any staff members who are supposed to be monitoring the visitation room is more egregious than the assault from a security perspective.

Add to it that the assault was prolonged because the guards had to be alerted by the visitors screams or they would have remained unaware.

Where were they?

Where was the staff as the minutes ticked by?

If we were monitored properly, he wouldn’t have been able to remove his restraints, thus no cowardly assault.

*NOTE: Jeff put this in the mail on June 26. It reached me on August 16 and had been opened and taped shut. Unless you are being sanctioned, which Jeff is not, it is only incoming mail that is supposed to be monitored at Parchman Farm (Mississippi State Penitentiary.

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Jeff’s Voice: Cowardice…

About a week ago, my Grandmother went out on her back porch and found something very interesting.

She found an original article, from our hometown newspaper, from the exact date that I was sentenced to death. The article had a headline announcing that I had just received the death penalty. My Grandma, who just recently lost her husband of 63 years wasn’t very surprised at this act of desperation and cowardice. I wasn’t that surprised, either because I had discussed the possibility of things like this with my grandparents years ago.

The reasons that I classify this as an act of desperation and cowardice is because: to put an article on an 85 year old (recent) widow’s back porch in the dark of night is just that. Cowardice. Period.

It also reeks of desperation because the one that put the article there has obviously had this article for over 12 years. Now after all that time, just after a favorable ruling on my case, this 12 1/2-year-old article is placed on her back porch…for what? To intimidate? Why wait this long? And only when things are finally beginning to change, and the truth is coming out? Coincidence? No. Desperation…yes!

My grandma did reassure me though that she was okay, and everything was being taken care of. I asked her what she meant and she simply said, “Web-cam” and “Cuddeback”. It took me a second to remember that my grandpa had installed camera’s all over. Inside and out. So I do feel better about the situation now.

But it does bother me that some people are just gonna be what they’re gonna be. Some people will never recognize the truth of things even if the truth tapped them on the shoulder.

No disrespect, of course.

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Jeff’s Voice: A Terrible Loss…

Not long ago I wrote how dedicated my grandparents are to me. I also wrote how much of a labor of love that it was for them to visit. In particular it was a huge effort on my Grandpa’s part because he had been suffering from congestive heart failure since about March of 2014. His heart, (metaphorically) was as big as anyone’s on earth.

That amazing heart, sadly, stopped for good on the 26th of March. In reality, my Grandpa’s passing was expected because his heart was becoming weaker. It was only a matter of time, but it still did not lessen the shock or immense pain and grief I felt when he passed. Even now at 8 weeks on, I still have to remind myself that he is gone. My Grandpa’s love and dedication to me were expressed until the very end.

Grandpa turned 84 on the 15th of March. He and Grandma came to visit me two days later on St. Patricks Day. His labor of love was on full display this day, as it was all the days of my life. This day was just a true testament as to how much he loved me. He could hardly walk as it was, which made his breathing very difficult. Yet he was up and awake a half hour before my Grandma, at 4 am, to make the 8-hour round trip to visit me.

We had a great visit even though breathing was so difficult for him and he was physically exhausted. Before the visit ended we said the normal goodbye’s and I love you’s. As always, I watched them go. Every time the thought comes to the back of my mind if this will be the last time I see either one. It’s just something that someone in my position has to do. Well, this time it didn’t feel different than all the “other” times, even though I could see with my own eyes that his health was failing rapidly, but, still, at that moment I would not have believed that St. Patricks Day would be the last day that I saw him alive. Or that he would be gone in just nine days.

They made it back home that afternoon. I talked to them on the phone. Everything seemed the same. The next day, Wednesday, I talked to them again. Everything was still the same, except his breathing was a little more laborous and he was very sleepy. Late that afternoon my Grandma took him to the hospital because his breathing was worse.

After he walked the 200 or so yards each way to the visitation area, he never walked again except from the car to the house and the house to the car to go to the hospital. That was a Thursday. By the very early morning hours of the next Thursday, he was gone.

Remember I wrote about my Grandpa’s last days being a testament as to how he was towards me my whole life? It’s so true. The last time I saw him was a great example. Even though he didn’t physically feel up to it, nor was he really that able to do it, he did it anyway. He came, even though it was practically impossible for him. My Grandma told me that he knew his time was drawing near, and that he was bound and determined to see me on that St. Patricks Day, just two days after his birthday. He was right because the next chance to visit me would have been on the 7th of April. My Grandpa’s last exertion of energy was to come and see me. I can honestly say he gave all. Not just to me, but to everyone and everything he ever did in his life.

My Grandparent’s 63rd wedding anniversary was on the 29th of March. Pawpaw was buried the day before. How sad and difficult for my Grandma, who I call Mawmaw. I called at 8:43 in the morning on the 26th of March and got the news. I had just talked to Pawpaw for the last time around 6 pm over the phone the night before on the 25th. It was a very good conversation. The things said between us were affirming and special and were right on time, because he passed about 8 hours later. My only regret is that I didn’t call 10 more times that evening. I certainly wasn’t thinking he would be gone in just a few hours. I fully expected to talk to him the next morning when I called, but it wasn’t to be. When I called the next morning I was told the horrible news.

While I heard the news with my ears and mind, it just wasn’t true or possible to my heart. From my shock, I said, “No, NO, Put him on the phone. Let me talk to him”. Within moments, my heart finally got it. My Mawmaw was very upset too, but she was trying to comfort me. And you know what she said to me in this grief-stricken moment? She said, “I can’t wait for the next visit to be up there to see you”. Talk about love and dedication!

Amidst all of the pain and grief, there is also anger. Anger because I wasn’t able to be there the last 13 years of my PawPaw’s life. Anger because I feel I wasn’t able to repay even a small fraction of the debt that I feel I owed to him. I should have been there to do all of the hard work that was more difficult for him. Who knows? Maybe he would have never gotten to such a state with his health had I been there.

Another hurtful aspect is that I finally got a ruling in my favor after he passed away. The Court ruling came on the 27th of March. Yes…the day after he passed! I’m so hurt and angry that he didn’t live to hear the news.

It wasn’t a total victory, though. However, it was a small one. It is a step in the right direction, that’s for sure. Most certainly it was good news that was otherwise overshadowed by the gloom and doom of Pawpaw’s passing. All these years of fighting to be heard, fighting for some measure of fairness. All these years here in the temporal, physical world with no results.

Maybe it took some motivation from the other side. I think Pawpaw knows all about that ruling.

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Jeff’s Voice: Case Reflections

Lately, I’ve been even more hopeful about my case because of several recent encouraging rulings by the State’s highest court. From what I can see, the court appears to have undergone some changes since my last go-round with the system.

All I’ve ever wanted is justice. Hell, all I’ve ever wanted is fairness, that fairness of course being basic due process. I could go on ad nauseum about my issues with the justice system, including my wavering confidence in that system.

But through it all, I – and everyone else – have no choice but to keep some measure of hope in the system. After all, when one gains relief, it invariably must come from a just system. Unfortunately, it’s not just going just fall from the sky .

Although my current disposition is hopeful due to my perceived favorable structure of the court, I still retain a full cup of indignation towards my false condemnation. I’ve lived every second of every single day for thirteen years in this unfathomable limbo. This only exacerbates my frustration throughout this nightmare.

Now don’t comprehend this in a negative way, as this adversity has made me a better man today. I am and will remain above and beyond the malevolent actions of those who went above and beyond any sense of truth and fairness: due process.

As bad as this nightmare has been for me, however, I’d relive every moment of it if it would bring Chloe back, which is why I am hopeful that the court will soon do right by her and me.

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