January 1, 2013
A Relentless Pursuit of Justice- The Case of Rodney K. Stanberry
“Relentless” is how someone recently described me. I have been relentless in this pursuit of justice for my cousin, Rodney K. Stanberry, who remains in prison for crimes he did not commit. He was arrested in 1992, tried and convicted in 1995, and began serving what amounts to a 20 year prison sentence in 1997. It is now 2013, he will soon complete 16 years in prison. Relentless, yes, I guess that describes me, in part. But the truth of the matter is that since the death of Rodney’s mother on September 8, 2012, I’ve felt foolish for actually believing in a just system. I’ve felt foolish for actually believing that prosecutors would be more concerned with the truth than the conviction. I’ve had to come to terms with a sad reality, that once you are convicted, you no longer matter to the power structure, no matter how wrong or unjust the conviction may be. And once you are convicted, the system rarely lets go. Yet, I continue to believe that the system can be just. In 2012, the Innocence Project celebrated the 300th exoneration that they were responsible for. I truly applaud the efforts of the Innocence Project and hope that they will continue to be able to do what they do on behalf of those who are wrongfully convicted, but this number is but a drop in the bucket of even the estimated number of people wrongfully convicted (http://freerodneystanberry.com/blog/2012/07/22/a-step-in-the-right-direction-giving-the-wrongfully-convicted-a-chance-at-justice/). We have to remain relentless and diligent in the pursuit of justice, no matter how foolish it seems given that we are fighting an uphill battle that isn’t often won by people fighting the wrongful conviction.
Rodney K. Stanberry’s case is worth fighting for. His case is a textbook example of how prosecutors should not behave. Rodney was convicted solely based on victim eyewitness testimony. It was eyewitness misidentification. He was convicted even as another individual confessed in front of the prosecutor two years before the start of Rodney’s trial that he, not Rodney, was at the victim’s home when she was shot, even as work documents and the testimony of his supervisor and co-workers placed him at work when the crimes were committed, and even as there was no physical evidence that placed him at the scene of the crime. Rodney also passed a polygraph test. He did everything a law abiding citizen should do in helping law enforcement and in turn, they arrested and accused him of committing what was a violent crime. You can read more about his case here: www.freerodneystanberry.com and http://www.freerodneystanberry.com/why_he_is_innocent. Rodney is worth fighting for-we hope that you will join us in this battle for justice. By the way, thanks to the prosecutor, the jury never heard the confession as it was an inconvenient truth: http://www.freerodneystanberry.com/the_confession-_testimonial_immunity_agreement
Rodney has remained a strong father for his teenage son. Rodney and I have exchanged so many letters since his incarceration in 1997. At times, I review some of the letters. I recently found one that included what you see below. It is heartwrenching and heartbreaking but shows the love of a father towards his son and son towards father regardless of the situation both are in.
(August 2004 This begins on page 6) “Me and Tre (Rodney’s son, he was about 7 or 8 in 2004, 16 now) took a picture last month that I wanted to send you, wanted to! For some reason, I just can’t come off any pictures of my baby. Isn’t that natural though? My visit day is Sunday, but here’s what’s up. The Mitchell Center is putting on a hunting expo from 4pm to 8pm, so I plan to tell dad to cancel their trip up here, and take Tre there instead. He’ll love that! Darn (he used the other word), I gotta get out there to my baby, Art. Did I tell you what he said on the yard? I told him I love him more than most fathers who are out there with their sons. He said ‘I know dad, if you were out, we would be doing something right now.” That stuff (he used another word) made me feel so good, Art. Then he said something that hurt me and made me feel good at the same time….”
The next part I want to ask if it would be ok to post. It would break your heart. Imagine what a son who wants to be with his dad so much would say. The system truly has an impact on family and friends.
The year 2012 has concluded. In March 2013, Rodney begins his 17th year in prison. Rodney has marked off about another Christmas and another New Year’s Eve and Day incarcerated for crimes he did not commit. In March, he will complete his 16th year in prison, with four more to go if the Mobile District Attorney’s Office does not work to correct this injustice. On September 8, 2012, Rodney’s mother died. In February of 2013, his father will be 79 years old. His parents had been married for as long as Rodney has been alive- 43 years, he was the product of a strong middle-class family. Another year concluded with this, and other injustices, being sanctioned by the state. At some point, district attorneys should be more concerned about the truth than about the conviction.
This ordeal needs to end, if Rodney had not told the victim’s husband not to sell weapons to his friends because he feared they would take them to New York to use them against innocent people, the weapons would have been sold, which means the robbery that resulted in the victim being brutally shot likely would not have happened. Two families in Mobile, Alabama would have been spared a nightmare, but families in New York would not have had these weapons been taken to New York. If Rodney would not have tried to play crime fighter and law and justice guy, he would be with his family; he would have been by his mother’s side as she took her last breath. He is the innocent and ethical person in this ordeal, and for that, he is an inmate with the Alabama Department of Corrections. Please call Mobile District Attorney Ashley Rich today and tell her to correct this wrong immediately. She can be reached at any of these numbers (ask for her or Michael Morgan- her chief investigator): (251) 574-5000 (a message can be left at this number’s voicemail), (251) 574-8400 or (251) 574-6685. You can also send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The Mobile District Attorney’s Office will tell you that they have no compelling reason to reopen Rodney’s case. Here you will find comments made by the Mobile District Attorney’s Office regarding Rodney’s case: http://newsone.com/1809115/rodney-k-stanberry-is-alabama-still-the-land-of-jim-crow/ (please also see journalist Kirsten Savali West’s follow up piece- http://freerodneystanberry.com/blog/2012/11/17/article-about-rodney-kirsten-west-salvali-your-black-world/)
Rodney has another parole hearing in 2013. The parole board wants him to say he is guilty and express remorse. Rodney is not going to admit to guilt for crimes he did not commit. We have to be relentless in our fight for justice. But we also have to look for ways to reform the system. A local (Mobile, Alabama) publication recently called for the establishment of an Innocence Project in Alabama, this is something that justice loving people in Alabama and throughout the country should support: http://classic.lagniappemobile.com/article.asp?articleID=5978&sid=3.
Sincerely and Peace,
PS Soon an investigative piece on Rodney’s case will be published. I will share it with you as soon as it is published. Please continue to encourage people to look at Rodney’s case. This is not simply my pursuit of justice for Rodney K. Stanberry; rather, we have a lot of people fighting for Rodney’s freedom and exoneration. It is heartening to know that people in Mobile and nationally want to do more to bring about attention to Rodney’s case, people with the platform to do so. We must continue this relentless pursuit of justice so that by the end of 2013 we can have a toast to Rodney’s freedom.