Saturday, July 5, 2014

Do Not Go Gently

Have I mentioned that this thing is fucked up?

If you pay attention to these things, you know the plot.  Arthur Tyler sat on death row for 30 years for a murder that was probably committed by Leroy Head. 

The case was mucked up from the start, filled with prosecutorial misconduct and incompetent defense lawyering.  And Leroy Head, who despite confessing repeatedly that he and he alone killed Sander Leach testified that Tyler did it.  And then there were the parts of the record lost by the clerk of courts and, well, as I said, mucked up from the start.

So when the Parole Board said not just that Tyler shouldn't be killed but that he should be likely released either right away or in a couple of years, there was good reason to think --

But not to think what actually happened when Kasich said
Let him die in prison of natural causes.  Commute the sentence from murder in prison to death in prison.
Let me be very clear.  LWOP is better than murder as a sentence.  Conditions can be better, too.  Here's Tyler.
I can say it is a big change for me to walk around free of shackles, free of handcuffs. 
That's from an open letter* he wrote to Kasich as reported by Alan Johnson in the Dispatch.   Sure, Tyler'd like to thank Governor.  But
You didn't give me the gift of life, you re-sentenced me to death in prison for a murder I did not commit.
Which is, of course, both right and wrong.  Kasich could, after all, have let Tyler be killed.  But it's 30 years he's been in prison now, insisting that he didn't do it.  And probably he didn't.  Leroy Hand, who probably did?  Good guess.

So yeah, maybe it's a big change.  But as he told the Gov
I am not free of this nightmare of wrongful conviction.  
The thing is, the Governor can fix it.  Just as he didn't have to commute the sentence at all, and just as he didn't have to turn it into LWOP, 

Just as he could damn well have done what the Parole Board (his Parole Board) suggested, recommended, he still can.  Tyler knows.
I am truly sorry that Mr. Sander Leach was killed," Tyler wrote. "It was a tragedy, but I’m not the person who killed him. The system failed. I am not a murderer. I am not someone that you need to lock up and throw the key away. Sir, you were my last line of defense, the last person who could look at my case and say, “Enough is enough.”
"I am not a monster. I implore you to take another look at this case. All Ohioans want a fair and accurate criminal justice system. Please look at this again."
I suppose maybe in a couple of years. Maybe if he gives up politics. Maybe someday.

In the meantime, Arthur Tyler, probably innocent, waits to die in prison. With a sentence of no hope.

And John Kasich? Alan Johnson checked with him.
Kasich's office has indicated he has no plans to revisit Tyler's clemency.
Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night
by Dylan Thomas
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

*But apparently not on line anywhere.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for quoting Dylan Thomas. What a Poet :-)