September 10, 2012
2Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”…..R.I.P. Mom (Evelyn Stanberry) T. Stanberry- 9/8/2012
To Whom It May Concern:
One of the worst consequences of a wrongful conviction is the death of the convicted innocent while serving out his sentence, as was the case of Timothy Cole, pardoned posthumously by Texas Governor Rick Perry, or the death of a parent, as just happened to Rodney K. Stanberry, who is in his 15th year of a wrongful conviction. Mike Morton, who spent 25 years in prison, had his mother’s strength to sustain him. His mother said “I felt like I was in prison too, because he was my child and I couldn’t help him” (http://www.npr.org/2012/04/28/151401541/moms-faith-outlasts-her-sons-wrongful-conviction).
Evelyn Stanberry (Aunt Janice as I called her, Aunt Janet to many in our family), died on September 8, 2012. She had long battled an illness and, on several occasions, she fought against the odds to stay alive. I have pleaded with the Mobile District Attorney’s Office to reopen Rodney’s case because if they are wrong, and they are, then they are not only punishing Rodney, but also his parents. In 2004 during a particularly fretful hospital stay, I sent a letter to DA John Tyson, Jr. and this was his response: http://freerodneystanberry.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/09-07-2010_121703PM.24992718.BMP. As was the case with Morton, Rodney’s mother served as a source of his strength.
At the parole board, the health of his mother was dismissed. When Rodney’s mother sent a letter to Judge McRae pleading for him to give her son back to her, he looked her in the eyes and said that he threw her letter into the nearest trash can. Of course Judge McRae said he meant well in his comments.* That was one of her last memories before her memory began to fade. Rodney’s mother is no longer on this earth and her son has to struggle with a wrongful conviction and with the years he was unable to spend with his mother because of a system that is very slow about correcting itself. Rodney’s mother was his hero; he got his strength from her. He is now beginning the second phase of his sentence- the post Mom phase, characterized with the knowledge that he will never be able to see his mother again.
As I have said before, it is one thing for a guilty man to be deprived of the ability to spend time with his parents, but it is another thing when it is an innocent man. Not only has he lost a parent, but he won’t even be able to oversee or attend her burial. Rodney’s parents have been married for as long as he has been alive. He came from a solid, two-parent household. Rodney’s father is 78 years old. He has been under a tremendous amount of stress caring for his wife and fighting for his son. There has rarely been a week that goes by when I do not speak with Rodney’s father. He has done a remarkable job caring for his wife. Rodney has lost one parent; his father has lost a spouse of 43 years. His sister has lost her mother, and his 16 year old son has lost his grandparent. The wheels of justice need to speed up much faster so that Rodney can spend quality time with his father.
The culture of far too many district attorney offices is to get and maintain a conviction at all costs. The Mobile District Attorney’s Office under Ashley Rich’s leadership has already shown that they are willing to ignore a confession and ignore exculpatory evidence being withheld. Here is a response from her office about Rodney’s case: http://newsone.com/1809115/rodney-k-stanberry-is-alabama-still-the-land-of-jim-crow/ . During her campaign for District Attorney, candidate Rich talked the importance of integrity in every conviction (http://freerodneystanberry.com/blog/2012/07/22/a-step-in-the-right-direction-giving-the-wrongfully-convicted-a-chance-at-justice/u7am0916ashleyrich/).
Later this year, you will be sent a new investigative piece about Rodney’s case. Will the Mobile District Attorney’s office continue to sanction a wrongful conviction; will anyone hold the office accountable?
The death of Rodney’s mother is devastating and painful for us all. It is even more painful knowing that in 1992, she saw her son wrongfully arrested, in 1995, wrongfully convicted, and in 1997, she said goodbye to her son as he became a number with the Alabama Department of Corrections. Before her health failed again, she was able to visit her son, but over the course of the last several years, she and her son were unable to see one another. Two families have lost a matriarch as a result of a tragic occurrence in 1992; neither family has or will ever receive true justice, as long as the wrong person remains convicted. A double tragedy remains in place and the Mobile District Attorney’s Office has the ability to make things right. They just do not have the will. You can call DA Ashley Rich at (251) 574-5000 or (251) 574-8400. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wrote this blog earlier this year. It is entitled “The Significance of Mothers and Birthdays” (http://freerodneystanberry.com/blog/2012/05/10/the-significance-of-birthdays-and-mothers-the-case-of-rodney-k-stanberry/
May Aunt Evelyn Stanberry Rest in Peace.
*From March 15th, 2001
The Court: And in effect she said in that letter that we all knew that her son didn’t commit an offense. To that I would say, I wasn’t the jury, the jury was. And two: That I knew or insinuated that I knew that somebody named Moore committed this offense and not her son.
I do not mind telling her or the world that that letter was thrown in the first garbage can and was not considered by me, because that is ex parte communication. But I wanted y’all to know that.
If I was the mother or father of this young man, I’d probably feel the same way. So I’m not knocking her for it, I am just letting y’all know that I did receive that communication; isn’t that right, ma’am, didn’t you write that letter?
Unidentified Speaker: (shaking head.)
The Court: She is saying yes, Proceed.
Mr. Knizley: We Call Mr. Jordan.