13 August, 2021

Framed for Life

The latest bit of media about my case came out a few weeks ago – a four-volume book, titled Framed for Life. The author, John Allen, whom I now, in the decade since he published the first book about my case, think of as a good friend, hopes to influence a readership made up of politicians and investigative journalists.

With a scalpel, Allen's multi-part book dissects my wrongful conviction, showing how Jackson County, Missouri, prosecutors (now-disgraced Amy McGowan, in particular) committed fraud on the court in their efforts to convict me of murder. The books not only expose facts of my trial that were overlooked by virtually everyone, they're also a scathing indictment of what one judge called Jackson County's "culture of corruption." Or so I gather; I can't comprehend more than a few words of them, here and there.

I have copies of the volumes, generously furnished by the author, and I'm in the process of reviewing them. The thing is, this is stuff that I've been over and over and over a hundred times, and can barely assimilate any more. It's as though the parts of my mind where information about my case, the 1997 death of Anastasia WitbolsFeugen, is stored have reached maximum capacity. MEMORY FULL, my brain might as well be saying. I even have a hard time talking about it; it incites an insidious kind of stress, the physical tells of which are twitchy eyelids, jaw and neck tension, and the occasional headache.

Nevertheless, I'm currently picking my way through Volume One of Framed for Life. It's slow going. This isn't because the book's a mammoth tome (it's actually quite thin) but because I can only take so much at a stretch before my tolerance hits its limit and I overload, unable to take in any more about perjury, withheld documentation, and lies, lies, lies, lies, lies.

It's interesting, if dismaying, to see old journal entries I made during the year I was held in the county jail before trial. I can still remember the splintery number-two pencil dancing uncomfortably in my hand, writing those thoughts in fear but under the somewhat protective spell of naivete. Those handwritten pages from half a lifetime ago – those I understand. Their language is unambiguous to me, the concepts they introduce are familiar in a visceral way.

I wish I could warn twenty-two-year-old Byron of the pitfalls awaiting him at trial, how stacked against him the deck is. But I can only sit reading, mute and impotent, as the travesty plays out on the page. Again.

How many more times will it, I wonder, before this is finally over. It gets so old. Or maybe that's just me, waiting for justice.


  1. I hope and pray something comes out of it. Can't imagine what it must be like.


Byron does not have Internet access. Pariahblog.com posts are sent from his cell by way of a secure service especially for prisoners' use. We do read him your comments, however, and he enjoys hearing your thoughts very much.