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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Jeff’s Voice: Seasons of Emotion

The other day I was trying to explain to a friend the range of emotions I experience in just one day on death row. Let me start by describing my bi-weekly visits with my grandparents, which take place on alternating Tuesdays. Twice a month, they leave home around 4:00 am, well before daylight, for the 440-mile round-trip drive to my current place of residence, Mississippi State Penitentiary.

In 13 years, they have missed just six visits due to extenuating circumstances such as prison lockdowns, inclement weather or illness. During these precious, two-hour visits, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have unconditional love and support in my life.

As I sat in the visiting room awaiting their arrival, I watched them laboriously make their way down the corridor towards me, which is a good 50 to 70-yard walk. At 83 and 84 years old, they have inevitably slowed as age has taken its toll and also due to recent injuries which they have sustained. 

While I was overjoyed to see them, I was also sad knowing that in two hours I would have to watch them go – yet again. Bittersweet does not begin to describe the emotions I feel each time they depart until the next visit.

My grandma told me when this nightmare began, that they would always be here for me because they love me and support me, and that they know as well I do that I am innocent. She also said that nothing prevent them from coming to see me and that I am not alone in this struggle.

While their visits give me the will I desperately need to go on, I can’t help but feel bad because it is such a labor for them to drive nearly 500 miles to visit me for just two hours. When I mention that to them, however, they always reassure me they wouldn’t have it any other way and that I am worth it.

My grandma and I have a running banter about this very topic whenever it arises. Most times, she says, “Jeff, if there wasn’t any other way, I would skateboard up here to see you if I could or even knew how.”

Sometimes, she says she’d walk, but my favorite version is that vision of her skateboarding here, not only because it cheers me up and makes me laugh, but also because I know she is telling the absolute truth. If she did, in fact, learn to ride a skateboard, I doubt she’d  embrace the rest of the skater culture, with the graffiti, piercings, music and such.

After the short two-hour visit has passed, my mood shifts from happy and grateful to sad and lonely as I watch them return to where I should be – home.  Back in my cell – or hell – the good and happy feelings remain, but there is an undertow of sadness and bitterness that pervades. The positive emotions are inevitably replaced by negative ones, because after witnessing this selfless, loyal and genuine act of love by my grandparents, I realize and am reminded yet again, my wrongful conviction has also robbed them – I owe them so much. It has also robbed me from spending their golden years with them, and from me taking care of and giving back to them the care they have always given me. 

So there is one visceral example of the roller coaster ride of emotions in just half a day here.

The following is a meaningful verse from a favorite song of mine that conveys the way I feel about this:

Talk Talk – I’ve felt the coldness of my winter
I never thought it would ever go. I cursed the gloom that set upon us…
But I know that I love you so

These are the seasons of emotion and like the winds they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion – I see the torch we all must hold.

This is the mystery of the quotient – Upon us all a little rain must fall.

—Led Zeppelin: “The Rain Song”

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My Thoughts On The Jeffrey Havard Case

Stop Wrongful Convictions

1513332_742855735744353_1157837102_nOf all the wrongful conviction cases I’ve covered, the Jeffrey Havard case has been the most difficult for me to write about. Not because I don’t believe in his innocence; quite the contrary. It is a challenge to discuss it because I believe that as soon as people see that the case involves the death of a 6 month old baby and alleged sexual assault, people shy away from it. It’s important for people to understand this case so I’m going to try to describe it in the simplest form possible – how this could happen to anyone who has ever cared for a child. This case is unique in the fact that no crime occurred. As an advocate for the wrongfully convicted, I typically write about murder cases in which the State convicts the wrong person and much research goes into what really happened to the victim(s) and who…

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Spread Holiday Joy to Jeff, an Innocent Man On Death Row

There’s no better time to write a prisoner than during the holidays. In fact, prisoners have told of being brought back from the brink of suicide by a simple message of support. For people behind bars, particularly those on death row like Jeff, the holidays are the loneliest time of the year, with many feeling forgotten.

Please take a moment to write Jeff to let him know that he is not forgotten and is cared about.

Jeff’s information is as follows:

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Jeffrey Havard fights wrongful conviction and death sentence from Mississippi’s death row

Jeffrey HavardThe future is uncertain for Jeffery Havard, who currently sits wrongfully convicted in solitary confinement on Mississippi’s death row, where he has remained for almost 13 years. Time is running out for prisoner L3955.

Havard, 36, has been incarcerated at Parchman Penitentiary since December of 2002, when he was charged for sexually abusing and murdering his former girlfriend’s six-month-old daughter, Chloe Britt, who died from preexisting medical conditions and an accidental shortfall.

In fact, the baby slipped from Jeff’s hands while he was lifting her from the bathtub, which tragically resulted in her hitting her head on the toilet. Following the accident, Havard evaluated the infant, who appeared to be uninjured.

New findings by experts support Havard’s claims that he is innocent of all charges filed against him by the state of Mississippi.

While the state of Mississippi argued that Jeff, 36, sexually abused and killed the child, Havard maintains that he accidentally dropped her while removing her from the bathtub.

Revelations about Dr. Stephen Hayne

Critical to Havard’s conviction was the testimony of controversial medical examiner Dr. Stephen Hayne, who originally concluded from his autopsy that the death was a homicide, the result of shaken baby syndrome (SBS), and that an anal contusion with a diameter of one centimeter he had observed was “consistent with penetration of the rectum with an object.”

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Gratitude and Giving Thanks

Today is Thanksgiving, a day which always serves as a powerful reminder to me of of what’s important. Some people may wonder what I am thankful for. Some days, I wonder about that very same thing. So many days it’s all too easy to lose sight of my many blessings. But I am blessed. Obviously, it’s difficult to count my blessings or give my thanks for material things because I don’t have many on Mississippi’s deathrow. Besides that, those things are superficial at best, and to me, material things aren’t important in the grand scheme of life.

The things that do mean something – everything in fact – are what many people take for granted, I suppose. What am I grateful for? Continue reading

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Jeff’s Voice: Case Update

After more than a decade, it seems that now more than ever, the truth is finally coming to light in my case; so I was very disappointed when I learned that the state had had filed a motion to seal the record of my case.

My initial thought was, “why seal it and seal it from whom?” It felt like they were trying to shut me up.

My freedom has been taken, and my name has been irrevocably slandered; now they were trying to take the only thing I have left. My voice.

Now that I finally have scientific and medical explanations for what caused the dilation, they want to silence that.

During my trial, prosecutors told the jury not to try to understand what caused the dilation and that because I couldn’t explain it, I must be guilty. They also told the jury there was no other explanation but that I had caused it, there was NO other way to explain it.

Simply put, my freedom or execution rests on what caused the dilation. That’s it.

There were several things about the state’s Motion to Seal that disturbed me:

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Jeffrey Havard Blog Update: “Believe”

Hey everyone!

Sorry it has been a while since I last blogged. I have had some personal and legal issues that have kept me busy.

I want to thank all of you for your support, comments and questions. It really means so much!

Mr. Blanchard, As a child, my favorite pitcher was Roger Clemons. That is what began my love of the Red Sox. Then they went to the World Series in 1986 but lost to the Mets, but the loss didn’t matter because by then I was a full fledged member of the Red Sox Nation!

Mickey, Thank you for the kind words. Although the Red Sox are in a slump right now, I am confident of a strong comeback!

Kay, The Cardinals have always been one of my top teams, not before the Red Sox, but a favorite just the same. I also wanted to tell you that I heard about Sherry and am so sorry for your loss! I am told she was a wonderful person. And thank you very much for your kind offer!

Uncle Greg, I miss you all so very much and hope the day is soon when this wrong is righted and I will see you all. Love to everyone!

Randi, Thanks so much for the music!

I would like to make individual comments to everyone but to save this from becoming too long, I would like to share with you a little about my daily life and my hopes for the future.

I spend my days reading. I read everything from books on Psychology to Hunting/Fishing magazines.

I spend a great deal of time listening to music. We are allowed MP3 players here. I love all kinds of music, old and new. Led Zeppelin is my favorite band, but I like music from almost every genre. Putting on my headphones is a mental escape from the horror that I find myself in. It drowns out the noise (mostly) and I can just be away from here for a little while.

I also enjoy phone calls with loved ones and corresponding with several supporters.

I do my best to keep myself busy and mentally challenged.

If there is any sense of right in this world, I will someday walk out of here and I will never take anything for granted ever again. I would live every single day to its fullest.

My goal for the future is to speak out for others who remain wrongfully convicted. I would like to do this with a friend who was also wrongfully accused but fortunate enough to be acquitted. We would like to tell our stories to anyone that is interested in the state of our Judicial System. I think it is important work and I would like to be a part of it.

Other than that, I would just like to live a quiet life.

My sincere thanks to all of you who sent me messages, you have no idea how comforting it is to know I have you out there fighting for me.

I promise I will not be so slow in making my next entry!

I guess I will close this with the words of a friend – “Believe”!

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Hello everyone! Let me begin with a brief introduction.

Someone suggested that I start writing a blog so that you all could get to know me on a more personal level. I guess I will start at the beginning .

I was born in Natchez, Mississippi on November 11th 1978. I’ve got three brothers and 2 sisters-all half siblings. I have 2 brothers and a sister on my mom’s side and a brother and sister in Oklahoma City on my dad’s side. Mom’s side (including her) live in and around Chattanooga, TN. I come from a close family; I guess that’s how it is with most all country folks!

The majority of my free life, I spent here in Mississippi and Louisiana. My earliest years were spent in South Louisiana, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I started first grade ( I skipped kindergarten) in 1983, when I was just before 5 years old in Lutcher, LA. Within a year or so we moved to LaPlace, 20 miles west of New Orleans and I stayed there until two months after Hurricane Andrew (Oct 1992) and moved to my grandparents (mom’s parents) in Natchez. I remained there (mostly) until this tragedy 10 years ago. I finished school in 1995, when I was 16 years old. After graduation, I worked mostly off-shore on boats on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

I have been a sports fan all of my life. However, sports have become more exciting to me since I have been on deathrow. Continue reading

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