I was getting a little anxious. I thought it was a while since I heard from Garry, but really I sent my last letter around the 18th, and I got his response yesterday, which was dated the 21st. It’s weird that I was so concerned. I guess I thought I scared him off by asking what he did to wind up on death row.
His response letter was six pages long.
He wasn’t shy at all about telling me. I don’t think I was expecting him to be, but I also wasn’t expecting the directness in which he told me his story either. It sounds like a movie or a book. It doesn’t seem real. But what reason would he have to lie to me or make something up? He has already been convicted for the alleged crime and incarcerated for fourteen years, so it’s not like he’d be doing anything by not telling me the truth. I don’t know if I should post the exact details of the situation, I might have to do a little more research to make sure it’s allowed even though I changed names and all that.
But a synopsis, just because I don’t want to seem so vague that it’s probably not true, is probably okay: He basically admitted to me that he has been in and out of jail his whole life, the last time (before this time) he was sentenced to eleven years and served eight before he was paroled. He did not say what he did the first few times he was in jail, and the eight years was the longest sentence he served, the others were 1-3 years. Needless to say, he was pretty accustomed to living behind bars. It reminded me of Shawshank Redemption, when he could not deal with living in the real world and ended up killing himself. I don’t think Garry would do that though, since he is so crazy religious and he seems to be very content with his life at this point.
Anyway…So after he was released he moved back in with his mom. He has a sister and more than one brother, but I couldn’t figure out how many. Without telling too much (until I know I’m allowed), his brother, his sister-in-law, and he got into a car accident a few weeks after he came home and had to go to a clinic for medical attention since he did not have health insurance yet. Blah blah a week or so later a nurse was found murdered and they pinned it on him. There was some sketchy false witness and character statements that went through the court system, and with his record of being in and out of jail most of his life, and he wound up being convicted of the crime, which he promises me he did not commit.
I reread the letter twice already (the first time was late last night, and I’ve been at work all day today. I plan on reading it again; it’s more intense than the SVU marathons I usually watch). I am definitely relieved he didn’t actually kill someone, and that it was allegedly just one someone and not a slew of children or something. My mind defaults to the worst case scenario, so when I read his story I was thankful. It still is terrible to hear that he was more or less set up to take the blame for this woman’s murder, not only because I am getting to know him and feel sorry for him since I know what a nice person he is now, but also for the poor woman whose real murderer is still free.
It’s easy to place the blame on a convenient person, but it shouldn’t be done in a murder case. He didn’t mention if he was appealing the case or not, but he said, as he has in several other letters, that he hopes to be “reunited with [his] freedom soon.” I still don’t know if he means that literally as in he is going to be exonerated, or if he means by death.
Before he went into his six page story of his current arrest, he did briefly talk about his art. I had gushed about the Jesus drawing he did for me and he appreciated it. He said he had drawn similar drawings of Jesus for his mom and aunt, and that they had the picture framed and hung on their walls. He told me he was in the middle of redrawing it for me on larger cardstock so I can do the same thing. He wants me to hang it above my bed so Jesus can watch over me while I sleep. It is a very sweet gesture and I really do appreciate that he is doing this for me, but I don’t think I am going to hang a portrait of Jesus over my bed. I will display it though because it is a great piece of art. Not that he’d know otherwise, but I don’t want to lie to him either. I haven’t written my response letter yet, but I think I’ll just leave that part out. It’s not technically a lie.
I learned a lot about him from this letter, but I still have many questions. Indirectly, I learned he still has a good relationship with his family. He mentioned his mother twice in the letter, his father, his siblings, and his aunt. It is nice to know that his family is still with him despite what he is in jail for, and that he was been in trouble his whole life. I don’t know if my family would be that forgiving. I guess it has a lot to do with the fact that this sentence, his sentence to death, is for a crime they know he didn’t commit. He was at work at his dad’s shop during the time the murder supposedly took place, and he was at his sister’s house the rest of the day. I guess I wasn’t expecting him to have a family, or at least a family as close as they seem to be. It proves to me that he probably is a good person who just found himself in trouble, probably hung out with the wrong crowd or something. I still haven’t given up the idea that he was in a gang though, for some reason I still believe that is the case.
Needless to say, I’m so relieved that I finally know what he is doing on death row, and I can finally stop assuming the worst. I want to write back to him now but I work in a really busy place and I can’t really whip out his letter to truly comment on everything he wrote. He deserves more of my attention than I can give at the moment, so I’m sure once I’m done really working through it and writing my response I’ll post again.