Thursday, July 7, 2011

Today I'm Ten Years Gone

The title of this post comes from a blog post by Byron Case. You may recognize Byron's name from the title of my first book.

I had never met or spoken with Byron when I began writing of his case. I choose to write about his trial because the case documents were available online from sites maintained by both his supporters and his detractors. I started writing with no opinion as to his guilt or innocence. I wanted the case to unfold before me as if I were a juror at his trial.

It was a naive thought.

While working on the book, I realized that a recorded phone call, instrumental to his conviction, had been seriously  mis-transcribed. The errors were always to the disadvantage of Byron. Always. I approached The Skeptical Spouse and explained my concern. She agreed that I had a moral obligation to contact his appellate attorney and reveal what I had discovered.

My impartiality had come to an abrupt end.

Byron's relationship with his attorney soon thereafter came to an end as his appeal was completed and submitted. I was too late, and I knew too little then to have any impact on that appeal. It was soon denied.

My relationship with Byron, on the other hand, was just beginning. We speak every other Sunday for 90 minutes, at prison long-distance rates. Each time, we talk about the next step in trying to free him from his wrongful conviction. We both know the odds are long, that years will pass before there is any chance at all.

Bryon has his own blog. He types his posts on his SX typewriter, which he says stands for "Sucks." He mails them to someone outside the walls, and that person sees they appear in his blog, The Pariah's Syntax.

In his bio, there on his blog, Byron describes himself as a writer, wrongfully imprisoned. The description is apt. He is indeed wrongfully imprisoned. He certainly can write. In fact, it's no longer a polite secret that The Skeptical Spouse prefers his writing to mine.

Last month, on the 11th day of June in 2011, Byron wrote of his ten year anniversary behind bars. It wasn't one of his cheerier posts. Allow me to quote just a bit of it.
Today I'm ten years gone. ... Three thousand six hundred and fifty-two days spent in the shadow of oppression, denied rudimentary comforts, and tortured by the threat that it will go on and on and on, to the end of me.

Not one of these days has passed without my thinking, This has to end. Something must make it right. I am obsessed with the idea that truth and justice will eventually be done, never mind the universe full of evidence to the contrary. ...

Everyone has a limit on what they can bear. The trick is rebounding from collapse with a sense of purpose. I like to think I keep purpose foremost on my mind. Every day I wake up dreaming of the end. Every day I wonder how I might bring it about. Every day I focus on freedom. Every day I imagine a future in which every damned day doesn't begin and end locked inside a concrete box. I'm not even angry anymore at my ex, Kelly, the pathetic character whose lies put me here -- Æsop taught us we can't begrudge the scorpion for stinging -- I just want back what was stolen. I just want the bad dream to be over. I just want to live.
I will speak with Byron again in 10 days. We will talk about our next step to reverse this wrong.