I went to visit Alex yesterday (6/24). We sat down outside at a concrete picnic table underneath the shade of a cloth umbrella as the heat of the day kept us lubricated. About an hour into the visit I heard Alex say the name ‘Bob’ and as I looked up I saw an older gentleman
Thanks to a simple facebook message, we are thrilled to bring R.I.F.T. Reaching Behind Bars organization on board the freealexander.org campaign to bring Alexander home. Their facebook page can be found here and their website is here. The organizations Founder/Executive Director Leann Sowell has been very helpful in communicating her willingness to get involved and
We’ve begun a petition on the change.org website. Please follow this link and sign the petition. Thank you so much. https://www.change.org/petitions/free-alexander-17yr-old-first-time-offender-serving-6-8yrs-for-non-violent-crime
I received an email from a Haywood county citizen this morning who wishes to remain anonymous. I thought I would share the body of the email here for you to read: I am so glad that you are fighting back! God bless you! I want to help but signing something and putting my name out
I went to visit Alex yesterday (6/24). We sat down outside at a concrete picnic table underneath the shade of a cloth umbrella as the heat of the day kept us lubricated. About an hour into the visit I heard Alex say the name ‘Bob’ and as I looked up I saw an older gentleman walking across the yard headed our way. In his left hand were two clear drum liners (large industrial trash bags) and I watched the man as Alex began to tell me about him.
He said that he had worked with Bob briefly in the clothes house, but Bob missed his custodial duties and opted to return to collecting the prisons trash and recyclables even though it was about a 60% reduction in pay and somewhat of an increase in responsibility. It’s also a lackluster prison career, one that’s afforded little prestige, if that’s even possible.
I watched as Bob disappeared behind one building and then another, making his way over to the visitation area where Alex and I were seated. As we continued to talk my eyes remained fixed on Bob because I could tell that this fella held a favorable spot in my young son’s mind. Thin, early to mid 60ish, neatly dressed and wearing his hair in the 1960′s style of “dove tail” I was very interested to learn of his story and why Alex held this man in such high esteem. When I asked Alex for the man’s story he told me that 22 year old Bob had murdered his wife and lover when he came home and found them in bed together. The court had sentenced Bob to 50 years with no possibility of parole.
Bob removed the lid from a huge 55 gallon drum labeled “plastic bottles.” He then reached in and pulled out a clear drum liner filled with a myriad of colorful soda bottles, some empty – some still containing small amounts of beverage. He then replaced the bag and returned the lid to head of the drum. What he did next was very peculiar and instantly earned my curiosity; he took the big bag of recyclable plastic bottles across the yard and sat down underneath the shade of a large hickory tree where he began to remove each bottle one at a time, unscrewing it’s lid and pouring the remaining contents out onto the grass. After a dozen or so bottles I recognized what appeared to be piles of bottle caps forming, and not just any piles of caps, these piles were color coordinated with all the red caps in their own neatly arranged pile, the blue caps in their own pile, the yellows, the greens, etc. After a few minutes I looked over at Alex and he instantly chuckled with that smurck on his face he’s became so famous for. I asked Alex, is that guy off in the head or something? I know the caps need to come off prior to recycling the bottles, but why in the world is the old man taking the time to separate the caps into colored piles? My son’s reply made every hair on my body stand on end:
“To keep him as busy as possible for as long as possible. Ya see, the guards lied to the old man and have him convinced that the caps go toward helping kids who are battling childhood cancer and that the caps color represents it’s value.”
My stare focused sharply as I began to notice everything that Bob was doing. The care he was using with the caps and his systematic, almost methodically ritualistic approach to the collection and his careful tabulation of each and every one of the brightly colored little dots, as if each one represented another child that would escape the suffering and loss of innocence due to childhood diseases. This was his mission, it was his sense of self worth, it was what he believed in; saving the babies.
It was all I could do to push the lump in my throat down and get back to visiting with my boy. After 30 minutes or so I noticed out of the corner of my eye Bob standing, in his right hand the large bag of de-capped bottles, in his left hand, 5 or 6 clear plastic baggies, each one housing a special color of bottle cap, which in Bob’s heart I would suppose were actually golden coins that he could send to the suffering kids in exchange for chemotherapy treatments.
After a while Alex and I came to the conclusion that it didn’t really matter that the caps were worthless (caps can’t be recycled and the American Cancer Society has labeled this as a hoax, as has Snopes) and would eventually find their way into the garbage, it’s what Bob believed those magic caps did for the suffering children that really mattered – each one, whether it be blue or red or green, representing the hopes and prayers of one old man who had spent nearly his entire life in prison.
Alex concluded his story of Bob by telling me that after 45 years Bob was scheduled to be released in a little less than 5 years from now at the age of 72.
I’m thankful for Bob and men like him, who are teaching my son valuable lessons in humility and compassion, something that all the liberal college professors the world over would fail at doing. Not until we live in a society in which success is gauged by the contents of a persons heart instead of their wallet, will justice ever truly thrive.
I was really moved by what I witnessed during this special visit with Alex, which led me here to write this blog post to share the story of the old man and the bottle caps. But the story doesn’t have to end there; you and I, we know bottle caps don’t save kids, but we have the luxury of clicking a few buttons and making the hopes and prayers of one old man who is trying so hard, come true. Where you touched by this story? Did you feel the spirit of love and compassion while reading this? If so, would you help me make sure that Bob’s bottle caps aren’t collected in vain? If you click the banner below and make a contribution to St. Jude you will in fact complete the circle comprised of Bob the collector, me the writer, and finally you the contributor, and ensure that his efforts and his love and compassion are passed on to the sick children. If you do make a donation please come back here and leave a comment, which I will pass on to Bob (without revealing the secret of his caps true value of course, lol).
You can also contribute by sharing this story with all of your social media friends:
Thanks to a simple facebook message, we are thrilled to bring R.I.F.T. Reaching Behind Bars organization on board the freealexander.org campaign to bring Alexander home. Their facebook page can be found here and their website is here. The organizations Founder/Executive Director Leann Sowell has been very helpful in communicating her willingness to get involved and bring comfort and hope to our son. Thank you. Your support means a lot to those of us who love and miss Alexander.
We’ve begun a petition on the change.org website. Please follow this link and sign the petition. Thank you so much.
I received an email from a Haywood county citizen this morning who wishes to remain anonymous. I thought I would share the body of the email here for you to read:
I am so glad that you are fighting back! God bless you! I want to help but signing something and putting my name out there can bring hardship on me and my family.This case needs more media exposiour. Like “Good morning America”! It was said on Good morning america just this morning that a young mans brain is not fully developed til they are 24 years of age but yet this state considers them a legal adult at 16 go figure the stupidity! Your son should have never seen the inside of a prison! They should have offered your son a program that would help him undestand his behaviour and learn that what he done was unexceptable for the most part i have seen my self meth dealors that kill people every day with there drugs walk out of that court room free.It is my thought that YES your son damaged a grave site of a loved one that has a lot of pull in this county and they meant to set an example! I feel in my heart that we need to work together to free your son. I to have had to fight this county to keep my son out of prison for non vilent crimes (driving on revoke) in this county if you dont have enough money to fight nor the ASS behind you to fight you will not win. It is all about the money that you can put into the system and the trade offs that are done behind closed doors bare in mind its someones career that is at stake in this county not justice! Some of the laws that are still on the books of this state are out dated this state is behind time and it has been told to me that Haywood county is one of the most corrupted counties in this state. ITs all abut who knows who and who knows what on whom! YOU GOT TO GET SOMETHING ON THEM AND HEY WILL FREE YOUR SON!!!!! Your son ws an outsider here and thats why they fried him with out batting an eye!( no roots to the county no voters to answer too!)
Jennifer and I took the baby to see Alexander a couple of weekends ago. He looks good, matter of fact, he looks the best I’ve ever seen him. He’s been working out and getting a lot of sun. He’s currently reading The Hunger Games and Criminal Justice: A brief introduction as well as Blacks Law Dictionary.
I miss him so much.
Ineffective Assitance of Counsel Ruling by Supreme Court could pave the way to relief for Alexander
This is a huge ruling, especially considering Alexander was afforded no plea bargain whatsoever. That information coupled with the fact that Alexander’s attorney didn’t even bother to secure concurrent or at least partial concurrent sentencing considering the grave consequences makes this, in my opinion, an open and shut case of ineffective assistance of counsel which is what this new ruling addresses:
The Court: Where, under state law, claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel must be raised in an initial-review collateral proceeding, a procedural default will not bar a federal habeas court from hearing a substantial claim of ineffective assistance at trial if, in the initial-review collateral proceeding, there was no counsel or counsel in that proceeding was ineffective.
Defense Attorney Bill Jones, considered to be the best criminal defense attorney in haywood county, could surely have done a better job at representing my son considering the severity of the charges. He did not. Neither did Alexander’s probation revocation attorney Pam Smith, who proved less effective than Jones at doing her job and even downright biased against Alex’s best interest. (as always, digital court transcripts are available upon request)
The attorney I spoke to in Charlotte a few months ago, Charles Oldham, told me that he would pursue Alexander’s case in federal court via habeas corpus. In the above quote please notice the passage “a procedural default will not bar a federal habeas court from hearing a substantial claim of ineffective assistance at trial.” That means that no matter what, if Alexander and/or his attorney were to bring about the charge of ineffective assistance of counsel, which is obvious, the court would be required by law to hear the case and rule upon it’s merits.
I was contacted this morning via email from the freealexander.org website contact form by a gentleman claiming that his own son had been processed through the same Waynesville nc/Haywood County nc court, with many of the same players as Alexander. I gave him a call and we talked for upwards of an hour. His son is pulling 10 years in state prison for a similar circumstance: Underage and guilty of adolescent mischief. The fella said that his son was afforded NO concurrent sentencing, just like Alexander. He was promised a deal by the assistant DA, Taylor Reid, but as soon as DISTRICT ATTORNEY MIKE BONFOEY entered the courtroom, that punishment was doubled to 10 years because they went back on their deal of offering concurrent sentencing. I find it absolutely disturbing that DA Bonfoey insists on destroying the lives of these young people in order to re-balance his dismal bottom line. My advice to Bonfoey would be to stop allowing deals AND concurrent sentencing to people like William Russell who raped a baby for 3 years, or Steven Yow who burned the Barberville Baptist Chruch fellowship hall to the ground causing 2 million in damages. He worked with those guys …. he afforded BOTH of them concurrent sentencing resulting in piss poor wrist slaps.
I know what you’re doing … I’ve known for some time now. I have the stats to prove it too. Bureau of justice stats compiled, and currently being compiled, by a bureau statistician. As soon as he completes his research, I’m gonna use them to write a book filled with your name. Look for it.
One last note: I asked the fella who sent me the email how he found the website. He said “I did a google search for “Waynesville DA” …. our web presence is beginning to take root. Each evening I do a little more optimization of this website. I plug us into one more social bookmark, or submit to one more article directory, or I convert articles to RSS and sumbit them into syndication.
Once I publish this post, I’ll go and, as usual, ping the site to over 120 RPC2 sites.
Today, March 3, 2012, makes one full year that FreeAlexander.org has been online. During our initial year we’ve gathered 172 digitally verified signatures with AWESOME comments(thank you), implicated one waynesville nc judge who we now own with the #1 and #2 top spots in google, a #2 spot for the term ‘waynesville nc justice’, and were featured as a top spot on the WLOS nightly regional news. And we did it all without spending one thin dime on advertising or promotions. The upcoming year will find us working toward top rankings for our number one keyword [waynesville nc]. This year, unlike last, our expenditure will increase as we begin to spend for more and more advertising and priority placements.
I just renewed the domain FreeAlexander.org for two full years. For those hoping that it would simply go away you can forget it! I’ve even created an “insurance file” in case of an untimely demise on my part, with instructions to others, for keeping the domain alive. No matter what, my sons story will be heard, and those responsible will one day be judged accordingly.
If you experience any difficulties or encounter any errors on the site while visiting, please use the contact form and let me know. Thanks so much for your support and prayers. Alexander appreciates it, and so do those of us who love and miss him. Please use our share buttons to pass our site along to your friends. It means more than you will ever realize. -Dad
In the United States, it is the role of a judge to act as a neutral arbitrator between the prosecution and the defense. These are not the words of a neutral arbitrator:
Page 15 of the official, certified court transcript, lines 18-21:
“If I could I would send you to prison for every day possible. Trumpets aren’t going to blow. I would forget about you before I even got back to Henderson County.”
Those are the words of a man who is practicing judicial vindictiveness and it was directed toward my flesh and blood, and I personally witnessed it.
Trumpets are going to blow Mark E Powell. Sooner or later, they will blow and you will answer to the REAL judge, Jesus Christ, who taught of mercy and compassion, two words you are NOT familiar with. Your egregious and downright disturbing court ruling has directly lead to my sons continued captivity.
FreeAlexander.org now ranks before even Judgepedia for the search term Judge Mark E Powell, holding the #1 and #2 spots for his online identity. ANYONE searching for him, will see what’s he done to my son.
Here’s a list of others who will soon be joining the judge at the top:
Judge Mark Letts, the judge who revoked Alexander’s probation without even a mention of concurrent sentencing, basically condemning our son to 6-8 years in prison. This guy had a chance to do the right thing and he failed.
District Attorney Mike Bonfoey, a corrupt district attorney who presides over a number of counties in western nc. It’s Bonfoey that refuses to admit the mistake and pick up the phone on my sons behalf.
Defense Attorney Bill Jones, Alexanders original court appointed attorney, considered the best in the county, and for good reasons: He’s Bonfoeys pet attorney, he himself cutting his teeth in the jackson county DA’s office, a county ruled over by DA Bonfoey. Between the two, they are exploiting a loophole in the justice system that allows hardened criminals guilty of violent crimes to escape with minimal punishment, while indigents like my son are scalded.
Defense Attorney Pam Smith, Alexanders court appointed revokation attorney and the worst example of a defense attorney I’ve ever witnessed. Her performance on behalf of my son was beyond pathetic, bordering on criminal. She didn’t speak a single word on Alexanders behalf, on the contrary, throwing him under the bus from the first word she spoke, painting him to the court as a drug addict in need of prison time. The transcript of her ridiculous performance is available for download.
Assistant District Attorney Taylor Reid, the prosecuting DA on the day of the plea hearing.
These observations of the aforementioned people are based on those people’s JOB PERFORMANCES while performing their duties beneath the colors of the flag of North Carolina. There is no personal assumptions about the character or personalities of those parties expressed or implied. I am well within my rights according to our constitution to express disdain toward public officials and even private attorneys who’s job performances are sub par and unacceptable. If you’re one of the aforementioned and don’t like the fact that your name is included here, then you’re really gonna hate the book I’m working on.
February 6th marked 2 years since Alexander was taken from us. He left Waynesville nc on february 12th 2010 and as of today, February 23rd 2012 the governing body of Haywood County refuses to admit their mistake. In an attempt to bring more recognition of this case to people county, state and nation wide I have instituted a Google AdWords campaign with the cross hairs aimed directly at Waynesville NC. Thanks to the generosity of our FreeAlexnder.org web host, we have been granted a free $100 voucher to entice us into taking advantage of the quality Google service. I’ve set the campaign to target select areas of the southeast. On average the term Waynesville NC is searched for 9,900 times per month and that is an EXACT search phrase. When the scope is loosened to include broad type matches such as waynesville nc rentals, or waynesville nc vacation, or waynesville nc corrupt officials that sell justice to the highest bidder, etc etc, that number jumps to 74,000 searches per month. The google adwords campaign will put us in the right hand column of businesses on related search pages that pay for clicks to their website. I’ve chosen the keyword targets of [waynesville nc] & [injustice] & [judicial injustice]. I’ve set the daily spending limit to $10 … If you can’t tell already my writing style since targeting waynesville nc has changed dramatically. If you perform a keyword search of this exact post you’re reading, you’ll find that it has a keyword density for the search term waynesville nc of 3% …. exactly what google expects when ranking websites for keyword matches, which will eventually move us up in the organic search results. As the blog posts and web pages are added over the coming weeks and months using this new SEO tactic, the entire sites keyword density for that particular search term, waynesville nc, will creep higher and higher until it achieves 3% sitewide. As each post and page is created, the meta content such as the title attribute, the description and especially the dedicated blog post keywords will be injected manually and will also reflect our eagerness to begin ranking for our search term: WAYNESVILLE NC
I’ve been in research mode most of this week. Learning about the system that has caused this injustice is paramount to finding a solution. I’ve been testing Alexander’s case against a few other cases in which the accused was given consecutive sentencing and subsequently appealed. In most instances if the accused was a first time offender the appellate court sided with the convicted, agreeing that consecutive sentencing should be reserved for repeat and violent offenders. I’ve tested Alex’s case against ohio_v_torres (click the link to download the case file yourself if you like). Torres was a man that ran over some children and then panicked, fleeing the scene. When police found him he lied and said he was innocent. He later admitted his guilt and the judge gave him consecutive sentencing. Torres appealed the ruling based on three points of contention: 1) He was a first time offender 2) By making the sentences consecutive the total combined time he would be incarcerated was above and beyond the actual maximum sentence that could be imposed and 3) It was a violation of his 6th amendment rights to have sentencing passed down by a sole judge rather than a jury, even though he entered a plea of guilty. Torres won his appeal.
The biggest landmark case concerning consecutive sentencing guidelines was Blakely vs. Washington in 2004. You can find the wiki page to this case here. The opening paragraph says quite a bit about the entire case:
Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), held that, in the context of mandatory sentencing guidelines under state law, the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial prohibited judges from enhancing criminal sentences based on facts other than those decided by the jury or admitted by the defendant(such as deliberate cruelty as in a ‘hate crime’). The landmark nature of the case (for good or ill) was alluded to by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who “described the Court’s decision as a ‘Number 10 earthquake.’”
Blakely won his appeal.
Blakely also taught me a new term which I have under my cap: judicial vindictiveness: A judge is an impartial dispenser of justice or a neutral arbiter between the prosecutor and the defendant.
if I could I would send you to prison for every day possible. I would forget about you before I even got back to Henderson county – Judge Mark E Powell directed at Alexander on the day of sentencing
does that sound like a impartial dispenser of justice or a neutral arbiter to you? … plus, the judge gave no explanation as to why he was making the sentences all consecutive, even though Alexander was a first time offender convicted of a non-violent crime. According to my research this constitutes judicial vindictiveness. There are also factors which are currently coming into the light which may suggest prosecutorial impartiality.
I want to introduce you to a name that you will be reading quite a bit about in the coming days/weeks and months. Thomas H. Cohen. Mr. Cohen is a statistician with the Bureau of Justice and he has published a very interesting report “Who’s better at defending criminals? Does type of defense attorney matter in terms of producing favorable case outcomes” … it is Mr. Cohens conclusion that private attorneys vs. public defenders vs. court appointed counsel are all pretty much equal in conviction rate yet, the punishment rates of court appointed counsel skyrocket when compared to private and public defenders. His report goes into great detail and is available in .PDF format for you to download and read SSRN-id1876474
My next update will revolve around why that is the case. Why does court appointed counsel afford their clients more severe punishments than private attorneys or even public defenders. Think about it, very hard. My conclusions are going to reveal a trend in our current judicial system, a loophole of injustice, if you will … that even Mr. Cohen has yet to discover. We’ll dig into that in great depth, using Mr. Cohen’s report as statistical proof of my allegations, in my next blog entry.
Those that know me personally know that I’m never going to let go of this. Our son Alexander still faces 4-5 more years of unneeded, unwarranted and expensive incarceration. To those that don’t know me personally, to the new members of our audience here at htt://freealexander.org, to those just realizing that we are here, and those that are responsible for our sons misery … never presume that my apparent inactivity or silence means that I’ve forgotten what you’ve done to our son, or that it represents a fading away of this campaign. On the contrary … those are the times when I’m learning and preparing. That knowledge will one day free our son … and bring allegations of wrongdoing upon those responsible.