(UPDATE 12.10.11) The following is an update to the original “Story” which you can still find below this excerpt. This is the “new” story of our son, who has excelled in an environment that would have had a devastating impact on a lesser person. Since being incarcerated Alexander has blossomed, earning his GED, completing all required classes, holding down a job paying .44 cents a day, and eventually earning a promotion to a minimum security facility, all without committing a single infraction. He’s become interested in books, and puts in regular applications for other, better paying jobs. He does the best he can considering the circumstances, to have a normal life. To imagine, this young man being labeled enough of a threat to society that he should be locked up for 6-8 of the best years of his life, is an absolute travesty upon the judicial system of this entire country. That system makes very clear that there are only two reasons why a person should lose their freedom: 1) He’s a threat to society or 2) He needs rehabilitation. According to those particulars, our son should have been home a year ago. Simply put, Alexander has grown up and has proven himself worthy of consideration for some long overdue “mercy”. Please see our FAX page for instructions on how you can make a positive impact on having him released, and please don’t forget to sign our petition which will allow you to leave a comment along with your signature. Thanks for your support and consideration.
Original and rather lengthy original “Story” – ==========================
At the age of 17 years and two months old, our son was involved in a group crime that involved four other minor aged children. After it was all said and done 3 of the boys skated off scott free, and one other boy was charged with 4 counts of felonious grave marker desicration. The judge in that case allowed “concurrent sentencing” of the charges, each charge carrying a sentence of 6-8 months, but because of the “consolidated” sentencing, the kid only pulled 6 months. That’s the definition of ‘concurrent’, to serve simultainiously. Alexander, however, was not so fortunate.
Alexander, the first born to his mother and I, was a beautiful child raised in a christian home. His mother and I have long since been divorced, but over the years we made the best of the situation, if for no other reason than our kids. Alexander and his brother attended and was active participants in the community church where they learned about Jesus Christ and His ultimate sacrifice to humanity. They were taught the stories that lots of us learned in church as children. At 17 his mother and I decided that perhaps it was time for Alexander to come live with me in Waynesville, NC. He had been struggling in school and we hoped that the fresh start would give him the opportunity to expand and grow. Upon arrival in Waynesville, the beginning of the worst days of his life began to unfold. With no priors and convicted of a non-violent, victimless crime, Alexander was sentenced to 6-8 years in prison. It’s my educated opinion that his 6th & 8th amendment rights have been violated and it’s my educated opinion that the county of Haywood knows less about the law, and due process … and more importantly, compassion. than even a man of my modest caliber.
I have since removed myself from the state I called home for over 40 years because I refuse to pay taxes into a system that is responsible for my sons continued incarceration. Alexander has now been held captive by the state of NC for more than a year, still facing 5-7 more years, depending on who you talk to.
In mid August of 2007, Alexander was picked up while walking down the street, by a detective with the Waynesville Police Department. The officer suspected Alexander, as well as some others, in a crime that occurred in a cemetery there the night before. Some kids had went into the cemetery and pushed over roughly 15 headstones, and damaged a small statuary piece. Alexander, barely 17, was interrogated without an attorney or guardian present and gave a full confession of his part in the events. I have not, as of yet, actually seen this confession. But according to Alexander himself, the confession contains information proving his willingness to cooperate with the investigation. Seven teens in all, including the elder of the group, Samuel “Malibu” Adams, the only one present that was over 18, and a young man that has since been involved in some other criminal activity including gun charges. The obvious ring leader of the vandalism spree, Adams is also suspected of breaking into numerous businesses in the area. (Adams was only charged with 3 offenses stemming from the cemetery and was allowed to pull his time ‘concurrently’ which means he was out in 6 months).
You can imagine my astonishment when I learned that Alexander was being charged with 12 (twelve) Felonious counts of defacing a grave marker. I have since learned that the towns own ordinances state that it’s a misdemeanor, and I quote directly from the town of waynesvilles very own website “Section 18-8 (b)” which can be found here.
Since 5 of the kids were minors, that left just Alexander and Sam. Since Alexander was gullible enough to cooperate with the police without an attorney present, the DA saw the confession as an open and closed case. And since there was no other witness to the deal that the detective offered Alexander in exchange for his cooperation, it made it even easier for District Attorney Mike Bonfoey to hang it all on him. If we dare to assume that an attorney had been present during the deal/confession … there would have been a witness that could have protected Alexanders side of the deal. Since it was Alexanders word vs. a decorated police detective, the DA was handed a cake walk case.
Alexander was appointed an attorney by the court, Defense attorney Bill Jones. Considered one of Haywoods best lawyers, I was pleased with the courts decision at first, but when he suggested to my son that “the DA isn’t going to play ball on this one”, a quote that I include here because I heard it with my own ears, and that Alexanders best bet would be to plead guilty to 12 felony counts, even though Alexanders involvement was limited to 2-3 instances of damage at best… I began to feel concerned. Especially considering the criminals that the DA of Haywood HAS played ball with recently, including Martin Russell … a previous class H felon that was allowed a plea deal by the district attorney and concurrent sentencing of his conviction of child molestation. Molestation of a 4 year old that took place repeatedly over a 3 year span of time, until the child was 7 years old. He was sentenced to 19-21 months but according to the DOC website he will pull barely 15 months. Read the entire story here. Another incident and conviction that sheds an enormous light onto the injustice that’s taken place in regards to Alexander, is the case of Steven Yow, a 21 year old that burned the fellowship hall of the Barberville Babtist Church to the ground in 2008, in an attempt to cover his tracks after burglarizing the church. Because he was granted concurrent sentencing in Haywood Superior Court, he was sentenced to only 5.3 years, but according to DOC records, he is scheduled to be released in July of 2012 … just 3 years and 4 months since he caused 2 million dollars in damage to a house of God. I’ve joked with friends that he’s lucky he didn’t trip over any headstones fleeing the scene, or he would have gotten 6-8 years, like Alexander … instead of 3.
Child Rapist: 1.3 years. Church Arsonist: 3.4 years. Property Damage to Cemetery: 8 years. If that trend were to hypothetically continue, the final sequence would resemble something like this: Shoplifting: 35-Life. Spitting on sidewalk: Firing Squad.
It took nearly a year for Alexanders case to finally be ruled upon and sentencing passed down even with him pleading guilty. Two Hundred & Ninety days to be exact, which is a direct violation of the U.S. Constitutions 6th Amendment that provides the “speedy trial” stipulation*(see footnote). I watched in absolute horror as Alexanders “attorney” hid in the shadows of the courtroom, while Assistant District Attorney Taylor Reid and Judge Mark E Powell crucified my son, showing him no mercy. Judge Mark E Powell said it best with the following quote that I repeat here because, once again … I eye witnessed it.
Page 14 lines 17-21: THE COURT: Well, sir, maybe you expected I would yell at you. I’m not going to yell at you, but 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.
If you would like to download your own copy of the entire plea hearing from 6.2.08 you may do so by clicking this link Brown060208
Unlike the child molester with previous felonies, and unlike the kid that burned a church to the ground, MY son who didn’t have a single mark on his record prior, was not granted concurrent sentencing. He was given 6-8 months on 12 counts, consecutively, meaning that as soon as one count is served, he starts another one. It also means he is not eligible for NC’s 65% rule, which even hardened murderers and sadistic rapists are granted. Concurrent sentencing means all the charges are consolidated, which is typical for first time offenders. Matter of fact, it’s the default sentencing type in NC unless a judge states otherwise. And Judge Mark E Powell made it a point to make the sentencing consecutive, intentionally dooming my son to serve a decade of his life in state prison.
Our key points, and reasons I feel Alexander was not treated fairly:
1) Alexander was a first time offender that was treated like a four striker.
2) Alexander, at 17 years old, was interrogated by the police without an attorney or guardian present. NC is one of only 2 states that refuse to protect minors from police brutality. This practice may be legal but I can tell you from experience it’s frowned upon by anyone who has children. My son was no mental match for a seasoned police officer who took advantage of the situation. The results of his interrogation should have been inadmissible in court.
3) Alexander agreed to a deal with the detective but the deal vanished because of #2
4) Alexander was the only one of the 7 involved that cooperated with police, yet he was charged with nearly 100% of the crime. One other boy, Samuel “Malibu” Adams received 3 charges, but he was allowed to run them concurrently. Alexander, once again, was shown no mercy.
5) There were members of the court in positions of power and authority that have loved ones buried in Green Hill Cemetery so the case should have been moved to another district. This fact alone brings a lot of weight to the argument that Alexander did not receive a fair trial. And I have documented proof that numerous possibilities of this MAJOR impropriety took place.
6) The probation was unreasonable, especially considering the damage that still exists in Green Hill Cemetery. If the crime was SO, so horrible, it seems that the repairs would have been made by now, a full 3 1/2 years later. (full picture set available upon request). With no work history, 12 felonies and the in the midst of a recession, the sentencing judge knew he was dooming my son to hard prison time.
7) The Town of Waynesville’s very own ordinances state 18-8 (b) Defacing a grave is a misdemeanor. Alexander was charged with felonies. This point alone should have given Alexander the benefit of the doubt during sentencing, but once again the court displayed either ignorance or impartiality.
8. He was given consecutive sentencing instead of concurrent. This is totally against the grain in regards to first time offenders. The violating judge could have very simply changed consecutive to concurrent at the time of revocation, but once again, my son was shown no mercy.
9) It took 290 days for the court to finally rule on Alexanders case. In the absence of the delays being caused by the defense, this constitutes a violation of Alexanders 6th Amendment Rights.
10) The punishment handed down is a direct violation of Alexander’s 8th amendment rights. The amendment states that the way a panel of Supreme court judges would determine Cruel & Unusual is to compare the crime and the punishment, with similar crimes and punishments WITHIN THE SAME JURISDICTION. And I can attest that after digging and looking, and even laying down plastic at research sites online researching the topic … there has never been another instance of such harsh punishment for a first time offender … in the haywood jurisdiction … or any jurisdiction, in the US, for the crime of defacing a gravemarker. This of course does not include corporate type desecration stemming to companies digging up people and reselling the plots, or companies storing your loved one down in the woods behind the funeral home and giving you an urn full of fireplace ashes with uncle Louie’s name on it. That’s different. The crime that Alexander was charged with is adolescent criminal mischief. The aforementioned is Corporate Desecration for financial gain. Bottom line, once again … is a direct violation of a constitution that has been trampled on in the Haywood County Judicial system like yesterdays paper. This time … the 8th Amendment. When you tack on the fact that the town of waynesville proclaims in it’s VERY OWN town ordinance (#7 above) that the crime is a misdemeanor … it becomes an unanswerable question as to why the stiff sentence was pushed for so DESPERATELY by the prosecutor/judge and was defended against so weakly by Alexanders defense. One explaination is that good defense lawyers are good because they play ball with the DA’s office, and sometimes a good ball player has to bunt in the invisible world of hidden agendas and human interaction … perhaps it was just time for the defense attorney to repay the DA for prior deals they had already worked out pertaining to other cases … pure conjecture, but regardless, it’s a viable scenario as the defense in this case was an absolute no show, not just allowing, but urging Alexander to plead guilty to charges that he claimed was not his responsibility and even failing in working out a deal for concurrent sentencing, which is the default sentencing method when dealing with first time offenders of non violent crimes. Again …a no show. And another cog in the rusty machine of justice in Haywood county NC.
Alexander is a human being that made a mistake. He deserves the opportunity to live and roam and become a man and watch his younger siblings grow up. And most of all, he deserves a chance at redeeming himself. Based on my research and based on other similar crimes that have been ruled on in the same jurisdiction, I am convinced that Alexanders punishment is Cruel and Unusual according to the 8th Amendment.
I realize that we as a civilized society must respect the dead. But as human beings we must respect the sanctity of life, first and foremost. My sons life can’t have a price tag hung on it, unlike the inanimate objects that he helped damage. It’s customary in this country for first time offenders in a court of law to receive the benefit of the doubt that it was in fact a rare one time occurrence. Our son, however, has not been afforded that benefit. He made a mistake. One night. One occurrence. One decade of his life lost … forever. If you or I were never given a second chance … never given an opportunity to redeem ourselves … where would we be today? Please take a few minutes, right now … to sign our petition. It’s a very simple process but it means so much to Alexander and his future. He is updated with a new copy of this website including the petition list, regularly by his Mother. I’m sure it brings him some comfort to be able to look and see that the world really doesn’t hate him, that society is above disposing of his life based on one victimless mistake. And that the list of people who are being made aware of his cruel and unprecedented punishment, is growing. And that he hasn’t been forgotten. Thank you for your time and consideration, and God Bless You.
*Although I had bailed Alexander out, it doesn’t change the fact that … had I not gotten him out, he would have been jailed for 290 days pleading guilty. I have heard arguments that his guilty plea was an automatic waiver of his right to a speedy trial, but according to the PUBLIC DEFENSE BACKUP CENTER REPORT: “Constitutional speedy trial violations are not forfeited by a guilty plea, and even survive a waiver of the right to appeal. People v. Blakely, 34 N.Y.2d 311 (1974); People v. Callahan (Button), 80 N.Y.2d 278 (1992)”. In a case of convenient irony, NC abandoned it’s own speedy trial stipulation in 1989, without any mention in any records that I can find, as to why. The bottom line is that North Carolina Courts and in particular the Haywood County Judicial system are broken.