Sunday, February 19, 2006

Washington State Mom

[Editor’s note: Please note that Vernon does not have his own email address, or internet access, as suggested by Patti in her question. I monitor the email address 'MeetVernon@Gmail.com.']


Hi,

I live in Washington State and I've never written to anyone in jail before, but when I read that you had an email address, I just couldn't help myself.

I know that you are on death row and I just want to know how you feel. What is it like for you? Are you frightened? What is it like in jail? What is a regular day like for you?

I'm a mom with five children and two step-children. I'm happily married and live in the country. My husband is a truck driver and a farmer. We have a good life here and our children go to a school that houses kindergarten through 12th grade. Pretty simple life we have. So, when I read about people that are living in death row, I have always been curious. However, until now, I've never had an opportunity to write to people like yourself.

Can I ask you? Did you actually commit those murders? And, if so, how do you feel now? Sorry if I sound so naive, but it's an area that I am not familiar with and yet have had an interest in.

Thank you for reading this. Patti


Patti,

Before I found peace with accepting Christ as my personal savior my life was a living hell. The devil had complete control over me. In fact, I was still conducting my drug use from within prison. I was still drinking. I was not aware that the devil was making things readily for me to keep me from seeing the light of day. I had no idea that even in prison, on death row, my life could have peace. That I could be a good man. I was not on death row all these years, but was a part of death row. I was doing a life sentence in the federal system. You could not believe the way my life had become so horrible that I finally got tired and asked God to show me another way. It was slow in coming because I had not given up the desire to put myself through suffering. He finally sorted me out and showed me His mercy. Today I try to pass that love on whenever I do things like writing back to you. I do not fear death, now that I understand the steps I had to take to prepare myself for death, whenever it came. No I didn’t kill those two people.

Peace

Hurricane Katrina

Dear Vernon,

I have suffered many loses in the recent months due to Hurricane Katrina and I have started thinking about what life, possessions, and family really mean, and which are essential for living a happy life. If there is one bit of advice you could give for a young person in this confusing world, what would it be? Anything from growing up, to life lessons you have learned. Thanks for everything and peace to you.

Kate




Dear Kate,

I would give sound advice of making Jesus a part of every life no matter what others may think of you in doing it. Make a way to read The Bible. Surround yourself with positive young or older people. Because would a friend really offer you drugs? Would a friend really offer you a drink? Would a friend really tell you to go and disrespect your parent? I think not. But I really thought those kind of people were my friends. That’s how the devil works. He gives false impressions even using other people to do it. Know for sure it is easy to get into trouble, but over a million of us can tell young people it is very hard to get out of.

Peace

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Court Employee

Dear Mr. Evans,

I was [a court employee] at your trial in Princess Anne in 1984 before Judge Simpkins. I left the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1989 and have worked since then [in another government position.] Anyway, a lot has happened in my life since 1984, but I often think of you, your co-defendant, and defendants in other capital cases… on the Eastern Shore in the eighties. I've followed your case in the paper over the years. I remember you as a likeable person with a sense of humor. I also remember the families of the victims of this tragic crime and the sorrow they did then and must now feel.

In the last 20 years my folks both died, our youngest son went through years of alcohol and drug problems, causing untold grief for my wife, and me, and other things have happened that are normal events in life. I'm not a very religious person, but I have always felt God was there for me, even though I was seldom there for Him. I know with our son I finally gave up hope, and shortly thereafter he called me and said, "Dad, I'll do anything you want, if you'll help me." It's been three years and he's done great. It made me realize then that as much pain and suffering as he caused his mom and me, I caused God much more. Anyway, I'm not preaching. I believe when God gives out rewards in Heaven, I'll be last in line, but I know I'll be in line. My son still occasionally apologizes for his actions, and I tell don't. We apologize once, and then it's forgotten.

So, I don't know why I'm writing this. My wife's dad is dying in [a foreign country] and she went to visit him one last time. I'm home alone with my dog and cat, which isn't all that bad. I've been married for 33 years and my wife is as close to perfect as a person can be.

Anyway, hang in there. As far as I can tell, if you're a Christian and asked for forgiveness for your sins, which aren't any worse than mine or anyone else's in the eyes of God, then one day you'll be in a better place and no one will be judging you anymore. If you're not, then get some born-again preacher in there and listen to him/her. It will bring you peace. I'm sure after 21 years on death row you must have peace of some type.

Whatever happens, keep your head up, and good luck.

Bob ___

Virginia


Mr. ___,

After reading your letter I was grateful for many things but the one thing that really stood out after reading your letter was the fact that you were really blessed to get your son back. Perhaps just knowing there is a God helped serve the blessing that was given in your life. I believe also if you allow the situation with your son to really take hold you’ll find God has given you the strength to help comfort your wife who is in need of you.

I appreciate you just taking the time in your times of sorrow to write about such joy and sadness but still I can not help but think how great God is. One more thing, it was a slow process but yes I have found peace in reading and demonstrating the word of God.

Peace

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mail

The first of Vernon’s responses to your questions have arrived. These replies are dated February 1, 2006, about a week before Vernon was scheduled to be executed. I’ll be posting them over the next few days.

Please bear with the unusual timeline of this blog. Due to the logistics of the mailings, the correspondence posted here will always appear weeks after current news events. I suspect that Vernon’s replies to the questions that you sent him after his stay was issued last week will be arriving in the mail soon.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Replies Updates

It’s my intention that this blog be Vernon’s words and Vernon’s interaction with those who choose to write to him. His replies to your current questions should be in the mail soon. I’ll post them when they arrive.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Last Minute Stay

The Baltimore Sun
February 6, 2006

"The state Court of Appeals issued several orders this morning granting defense lawyers' request for a stay in the execution. The court scheduled arguments in the case for May.

We continue to think that we have strong claims and meritorious appeals, and we're very glad that the court is going to give us a chance to show them that," said A. Stephen Hut Jr., one of the lawyers who has represented Evans in his appeals.

The attorneys said they were still sorting out the appeals court's orders this morning, but that a majority of the judges appeared to grant the lawyers' requests for a stay on each challenge pending before the appeals court...

"Evans, who had been moved to a cell closer to the state's death chamber, was told of the court's decision shortly before noon, the Associated Press reported.

He said, "Praise God," according to Jeffrey O'Toole, one of his attorneys."

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Vernon Update

Vernon has been moved from the building where death row is housed to the building where executions take place. He was not allowed to take any of his belongings with him. Maryland schedules executions in week long blocks. The execution could take place anytime from Monday to Friday.

Read and watch more news updates here.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

As Execution Nears, Students Reflect on Correspondence with a Death Row Inmate

Baltimore Sun
February 3, 2006

"Evans' influence on Pilisz, from Scranton, Pa., has been so profound that after years of not knowing what to do with her life, she now intends to seek a teaching job in an inner-city school after graduation. "Knowing Vernon and some of the things that have happened in his life has inspired me to work with kids to keep them from getting into things like that," she said.

Reflecting on the impact that Evans has had on her students, Conway remembered a prayer that he told her he repeats often - that God would grant him a period of time when he would know what it means to be a good man.

"Being in prison, and the period of reflection that that has afforded him, he has figured out a way to be the person he wanted to be," Conway said softly. "I told him that I thought in many ways his prayer has now been answered."

Read more here.

Consensus Statement

On Friday, Vernon's attorneys delivered a consensus statement in support of a moratorium (pause) of the death penalty in Maryland.

Signers of the agreement are concerned:

(1) that innocent people are being sentenced to death in Maryland,
(2) that capital defendants in Maryland are not receiving adequate legal council, and
(3) that Maryland's death penalty is applied in a racist manner.

Those signing the documents include Bruce Gordon, the President and CEO of the NAACP, Raymond Paternoster, the man who authored the study that proved racial disparities on Maryland's death row, and several other Maryland legislatures, religious leaders, and educators.

See the statement here.

Death-Row Inmate Evans Loses Another Appeal

RSS Feeds From ABC 7 Friday February 03, 2006 8:41pm

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the latest appeal from convicted murderer Vernon Evans.

In a one sentence order handed down this afternoon, the court upheld a lower court ruling denying Evans' stay on the grounds that lethal injection amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

Evans' lawyer Julie Dietrich said she will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Click here to read more.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Pope Appeals for Evans' Life

(WJZ/AP) Baltimore, MD

" Two U.S. cardinals and the Vatican's envoy to Washington have appealed to
Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich to spare the life of condemned inmate Vernon Evans,
who is scheduled to be executed next week for two 1983 contract killings."

Click here to read more and to see local television coverage.

Letter Excerpt

Excerpt from letter from Vernon to a local student, Dated Oct 5, 2005:

"My friend before you are old many people you will put your trust in will let you down. It is a fact, but know this young one it will not compare with the number that will not let you down. Pray for change in those that show deceit and give thanks for those in your life that love you. Whatever you gave from your heart let it always remain so. Whatever you lost will some day be given back to you in another way. Carry on."

Email Exchange

Below is an email exchange between myself and someone else working on the case.

>>>

Thursday, February 2, 5:34pm

Has anyone talked to Vernon? Do you know if he received the email questions? There should be more arriving each day. How is he?

>>>

Thursday, February 2, 10:33pm

I saw him last night and he was busy responding to them. He said he ran out of stamps but someone gave him some. He's hanging in there.

>>>

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Send a Letter to Ehrlich

The Amnesty International online action for Vernon Evans is live.

Click here to send a message to Maryland Governor Ehrlich.

Evans' Appeal on Execution Turned Down

The Baltimore Sun
February 2, 2006

"A U.S. District Court judge denied Wednesday night a request from death row inmate Vernon Lee Evans Jr. to postpone his scheduled execution, ruling that "it would be an exercise in speculation" to find that Maryland's lethal injection procedure exposes Evans to a substantial and unnecessary risk of pain and suffering.

Evans, 56, who could be put to death as soon as Monday for the 1983 contract killings of two Pikesville motel clerks, had challenged the state's execution procedure in a federal lawsuit on the grounds that it violates his constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment."

Read more here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Letter to a Student

Below is a letter from Vernon to a local college student.

January 24, 2006

Sedira,

Today, I had a visit from your mother and Paulette. I told her that I wrote you a brief letter along with John Miller letter to your roommate. But still I feel I must write you this one.

When I received your letter it felt good to know I have a friend such as you. It also Sedira made me appreciate the Bible. Christ and people such as yourself makes me want to live a long and fulfilling life. My fulfillment would be touching peoples lives in a positive way. To give them meaning to the purposes they take up in life. One of my goals is to show people especially young people sometimes you will grow old in fighting a cause for good. But when you prove that you want change in an evil event, more people will have to take notice and join your effort. Every opportunity you get you must speak against a wrong. Sometimes your words will fall on deaf ears. That the way it is. But your aggressiveness will not always fail.

We have met and friendship have develop from our meeting. However we met the friendship has mature. We know what this struggle is about. No matter if I or you perish we know in our soul what remain to do.

Sedira make your being always ready for heartbreak. Heartbreak comes with this struggle because of the closeness that grows. Just know it is part of the struggle.

Love you
Peace & Blessing
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