||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
Still Waiting For Good News
By: Dale Recinella
Labor Day morning.
I will never forget the moment.
The home phone rings. I hope itís not bad news.
It is. Bad news that I must convey to my brother in Christ. His mother passed away during the night. She died elderly, after a long and faith filled life. There is no question that she is with the Lord.
Yet, what about his hope of seeing her again outside the confines of death row? Are there words with the power to diminish this blow? How much grief can one person take?
This man has been on Floridaís death row for over twenty-six years. His beloved wife was murdered in the same Christmas Eve massacre on their family business that took the life of his in-laws and almost killed him. While he was still in the recovery room from emergency surgery to save his life, an inexperienced detective found a life insurance policy on the wife in the family storeís office.
It seemed irrelevant to the detective that such policies are typical in family businesses. The murders were declared solved. Within hours of stepping onto the most complex crime scene in central Florida history, the neophyte blood-splatter expert, turned instantly genius, decreed that the perpetrator was the man lying in his hospital bed with a near-fatal abdominal gunshot wound.
The state claimed a well-planned deception. To cover his tracks, this prominent storeowner had shot himself after calling for help. That theory was supported by the police report used against him in the criminal proceedings. The report said the blood from his wound was damp when the chief of police arrived less than two minutes after the call for help.
Eleven years after the trial, it was discovered that the original police report, signed by the very same chief of police, said all the blood was dry. That would have blown the stateís case. The prosecutors had buried the original police report and produced the second one.
The same discovery revealed a tape recording by the state investigator. A Minnesota family was lodging in the motel behind the store where the murders occurred. They told the investigator that a policeman was crouched outside his patrol car with gun drawn, behind the store, before any shots were fired inside the store. That would have blown the stateís case. The state investigator advised the family that if they changed their recollection, remembering instead that the police arrived after the shots were fired inside the store, the state would give them a free trip back to Florida. The prosecutors buried the tape.
No court has heard that evidence or a pile of other exculpatory evidence. Even though the prosecution hid the evidence, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that it was all discovered too late, after the time limit preventing courts from hearing late discovered evidence of innocence.
In the summer of 2001, a judge finally ordered DNA tests of the crime scene blood. The test results contradict the stateís theory of the crime, but completely support the condemned manís explanation of what took place in the hit on his family business. Did the state come forward with an apology? No. Instead, an article somehow appeared in the local paper quoting a state attorney that the DNA test results would not set this man free.
For twenty-six years my brother in faith has been pleading innocence, waiting for an impartial judge to look at the truth in this horrendous miscarriage of justice. Heís still waiting.
I donít know who was designated to tell him that his wife was murdered in the attack on their store. Nor do I know who was asked several years ago to tell him that his father had died while he sat on death row. But Iím the one who fielded this call. I must tell him that he will never see his mother again in this world.
When will there finally be good news?
First published: The Florida Catholic, September 5, 2002
© 2002 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.
I Was In Prison
News & Updates
This ezine is targeted for people involved in prison ministry or in stopping the death penalty, we think you will find helpful information for people who are undecided about capital punishment, for those who have never experienced the inside of a jail or prison, and for those who feel called to participate through prayer and adoration.
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Dale S. Recinella
, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella
, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed