21 September, 2021

Ten Years After Filing, My Application for Pardon Gets Shot Down

My hopes were never all that high. Governors, even when they do exercise their clemency privilege, rarely grant pardon. Why undo what the courts – those perfectly fair and just arbiters of truth – have done? Justice had its chance at trial. Still, this form letter on flimsy paper is a major letdown.

"Dear Offender Case," it begins.

My first thought was, Fuck you, you pompous twit. Would it have killed him to address me with a formulaic "Mr."? I envision a meeting of self-righteous DOC higher-ups, at which were discussed sundry ways of making sure the imprisoned feel good and low. I'm sure that suggesting the word "offender" won someone high praise. It succeeds in being simultaneously reductive and hyperbolic, a big, ugly brand on the neck of anyone who passes through the gates of a "correctional" center. Even if I were guilty of the crime that put me in prison, this designation would piss me off.

"This letter is in response to your application for Executive Clemency. I regret to inform you that the Governor has declined to grant clemency."

So that's that, then.

I filed my application for clemency in the fall of 2011, following months of research. Once I composed a straightforward narrative of my case and felt ready, I mailed my application form with a forty-one page summary of the case, a personal letter to then-incumbent Governor Jay Nixon, information relating to bipolar disorder (which Kelly Moffett was diagnosed with), a Kansas City Police officer's report, a copy of the 2007 book The Skeptical Juror and the Trial of Byron Case, an excerpt from a forensic study titled "Eye Changes After Death," and Jackson County Sheriff's Department interviews with Robert WitbolsFeugen and Betsy Owens, Anastasia WitbolsFeugen's parents.

A bunch of my friends and supporters wrote letters that pleaded for Mr. Nixon to give me my freedom. The Office of the Governor forwarded these to the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole, which manages all clemency applications for the governor. For a while, P & P even forwarded me copies of its responses. They must have some rule about only answering constituents, because I never heard about anyone living outside of the state hearing back, but still, a nice gesture.

My mother started a petition online, collecting signatures in support of my release. John Allen, author of that Skeptical Juror book, wrote a whole series of mailings to Governor Nixon, which picked the case to bits. Both John and Mum traveled to Jefferson City, Missouri's capital, to meet and talk with two successive governors' legal counsel. All of this for naught.

I'm not complaining that Governor Parson shot me down (or not only that, anyway) but that the act took a full decade to carry out and ended with an insulting form letter. Insult to injury.

Oh, but FreeByronCase.com got a cool new look and layout last week. At the same time, Framed for Life, Volume 3 hit Amazon's shelves and some journalists took an interest. My lawyer has been quiet for a couple of months, which I can only hope means the species of busyness that yields progress. Dedicated supporters are putting forth more energy, all at once, than they have in a while. All of this imparts the sensation of building momentum – but is that really what it is? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, shame on you, Governor Parson, for rubber-stamping people's lives away.

1 comment:

  1. Really disappointed that not only the governor denied the pardon but also it took 10 years. Hopefully we'll some good news soon.


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.