LETTER TO THE EDITOR
February 20, 2001
Over the past three years I witnessed many miscarriages of justices and I have not been silent.
I participated in a criminal trial as an alibi witness. I learned quickly the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution exists only in a museum and it is a bastardised versions of these documents the real world practices. A prospective juror, a teacher in the Jefferson school district told the defense attorney, “it is up to the defendant to prove himself innocent”, his words, ‘guilty until proven innocent”. I spend a year and a half fighting for truth, fighting law enforcement and struggling to keep my family whole. I spent a week in the Woodbury County Courthouse; during that week I watched Iowa DCI Agent Dan Moser (retired) and DCI Agent Terry Klooster (Finality Investigations) and the alleged victim’s boyfriend Rod Jones having coffee in the jury room with the jury present. I waited for the defense attorneys to do something, I waited for Woodbury County Deputy to do something—finally I did something, The Iowa DCI agents described me as confrontational. When I was finally allowed in the courtroom, I was subject to a physical search. Ever have one of those? Most people have criminal courtroom experience only via entertainment television, so they have no concept of sitting silently, waiting for a jury to deliver a verdict. The cannot feel every hair on their body stand on end, feel the tentacles of cold despair radiate into their soul, hear the screams of their sister rip across the silence or the intense personal pain emanate in tsunami-like waves from the brother-in-law as he grips their hand while the jury foreman makes the pronouncement “Guilty”! My nephew was with me that fateful night, yet he was convicted and sentence to life without the possibility of parole at the age of 19 on the anniversary of his parent’s marriage.
I have spent the past year researching law, working for the appeal and waiting through the everlasting nightmare that has become normal life for my family. I have been in constant contact with my nephew in prison, in each conversation I have with him we discuss the things we did wrong, and the things we did right. Uppermost in each conversation is that we allowed public opinion to cow us and intimidate us into not fighting as strongly as we should have. On January 3, 2001, I went to Des Moines to listen to oral arguments in the Iowa Appellate Court for nephew’s appeal. Imagine your whole life balanced on the best argument your attorney can make in 15 minutes. On February 7, 2001, we received work the appeal was granted to my nephew so we go back to trial.
During the past three years my attitude has undergone a catharsis. I will never stand by silently allowing an innocent individual be railroaded by misinformation, untruths, by cowards who let others take blame for their actions or people too lazy to investigate the truth whether it is in Spirit Lake, Iowa or here in Alcester, South Dakota. To my critics, shame comes from continuing to perpetuate a wrong on a good man when he has been proven innocents. If divisive means one faction fighting to restore a man’s good name while a second factions continues to perpetuate the wring, Yup we are divided! If airing the dirty laundry is the only way to clean it, get the clothes-pins ready and the clothes-line wiped down! I come from a line of fighters, the Magee and Culbertson in the Revolutionary War and the Newtons in both World Wars. I am confrontational, I am pit-bull tenacious, I am obdurate but I AM NOT a quitter. To the cowards who mail me the unsigned, anonymous sophomoric drivel, which passes for your opinions of my worth—I decline your invitation. I am here—- so bring it on! This one ‘little woman’ who will not only be seen but be heard. I will no longer silently sit back hoping truth and justice will prevail. I will fight, annoy, push, shove, bully, harass and antagonize to ensure justice has a chance. I am more than willing to, as the title of a jazz song suggests, “Face The Music and Dance”!
A look back, still I wait but the storm is indeed building.