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Kids Behind Bars: Life or Parole

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DVR'd a new show on A&E called Kids Behind Bars: Life or Parole. The first episode we meet Aaron, a very disturbed looking kid who shot his 14 year old female friend in the back of the head in her house, dragged her out the door and into the woods behind the house. First he said a "black dude that turned out to be white" did it, but the house had a no shoes policy so when the cops told him to take off his shoes, he had blood on his socks. He eventually claimed that she was "goofing" around pointing the gun at him, he took it away from her and went to put it away and it went off. It just happened to hit her in the back of the head. Then he dragged her out.

The premise of the show is that "children" should not receive life without parole for crimes they committed as kids. I did not fully catch it but his lawyer had six months to appeal for a re-sentencing of this obviously psychotic person and pointed out how much Aaron had matured since then. Right. He matured into a full fledged psycho. Aaron was raised by his sister who looks to be about about 60 years old. He's 22 now and we see him via a camera talking on the phone to his lawyer and then his sister. The police who arrested him said he will kill again if released and I believe them. Something is not right in the head with this kid. Next week we have Curtis, who took park in a carjacking with three other teens, 23 years ago.

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On 5/3/2019 at 3:12 PM, configdotsys said:

 He matured into a full fledged psycho. Aaron was raised by his sister who looks to be about about 60 years old. He's 22 now and we see him via a camera talking on the phone to his lawyer and then his sister. The police who arrested him said he will kill again if released and I believe them. Something is not right in the head with this kid. 

I totally agree with you on this one. So much more in the show pointed to him being very damaged and disturbed. Not something time and “maturity” will ever fix.

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I watched the next two episodes. One was about Curtis, who took part in a carjacking as a teen with a few other teens and the victim was killed. Wherever they live, I believe the law says that even if you are not a shooter, if you are there, you're just as responsible as the killer. Curtis has been in for 23 years and has educated himself, learned several languages and wants to get out. He gets his wish.

Then we had Preston, who seemed to me to be cut from the same cloth as Aaron from episode 1. A very angry tough guy who was a cold wise ass with the police when being questioned. He and his buddies robbed a kid and to this day the victim's father is completely devastated and suffers PTSD and other health issues as a result of losing his son. But Preston has found Islam and has decided that he shouldn't be in prison anymore. He expressed no remorse for the crime, and his sister or half sister or something thinks what he did wasn't so bad. No, he just shot a guy. One of his accomplices did not want anyone to get shot so they removed a couple of the bullets from the gun but Preston kept firing until he killed the guy. We got to hear how Preston's mom was on drugs and he was an abused kid and all that stuff. I feel for anyone who is dealt such a hand but this dude was a thug that I could easily see killing someone else if released. He did not get his wish and will remain in jail probably for life. Poor Preston was surprised at that. He never thought he'd get the book thrown at him.

My own view on these killers who ask to be released from prison early is that will happen as soon as the person they murdered is able to crawl out of the ground and get their life back.

I was concerned that this show was going to be only about "kids" who are released. Glad to see that's not the case. 

Edited by configdotsys
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I did feel Curtis had done his time and had really worked on himself. Preston on the other hand, no way. I had to shake my head when he was so sure he would soon be released and was “shocked” when he didn’t. Loved your post configdotsys.

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10 hours ago, hoosiermom said:

I did feel Curtis had done his time and had really worked on himself. Preston on the other hand, no way. I had to shake my head when he was so sure he would soon be released and was “shocked” when he didn’t. Loved your post configdotsys.

I had such mixed emotions about Curtis because he most definitely was a completely changed person and did serve 23 years. It's not like he did a few years and they let him go. I did feel horrible for the victim's parents because their son wasn't able to marry and grow and enjoy life so it's hard to think that his killer will be able to do all those things that he robbed from the victim. While he did work on himself, was very well spoken and impressed me with his learning of multiple languages, he was locked inside so he had no other real options but to either get into the prison life gang thing or read and learn. We'll see once he is out and struggles to find work as a convicted felon if he reverts back to criminal ways. His episode was one of those that can generate such good discussion on both sides if only people were civilized enough to engage in constructive conversation. That's what I so love about this place.

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This week we have 15 year old Bobby, a high schooler with good grades and a player on the football team, who shot and killed his girlfriend’s bigoted parents in their bed. The mother died, the father survived.  Bobby is Mexican and his gf’s parents did not believe in interracial relationships so they had to sneak around. 

This case was somewhat reminiscent of the Pamela Smart case from 1990ish. Smart was the 22 year old Media Director of a public school district in New Hampshire and got her 15 year old lover to kill her husband by telling him that the husband was abusive. The reality was that Smart feared losing everything (including face for being with a 15 year old) in a divorce. The lovestruck teen shot her husband in the head and spent nearly 30 years in prison as did his buddies/accomplices.

In this case, the daughter took her parents’ gun and gave it to Bobby and was cursing him out for not killing her parents for her. She told Bobby that her father sexually abused her so Bobby thought he had to do it in order to save her. This was a premeditated, planned killing and it seemed that Bobby was hounded by the gf to do it until it got the point that he thought he had no choice but to save her because no one else would. 

The father refused to be interviewed for the show but testified against his daughter at her solicitation of capital murder trial denying that he was ever abusive to any of his children and calling his daughter a master manipulator. Dad wanted both “kids” tried as adults. The daughter got life and has refused all requests for interviews or comment. Bobby got 75 years.

Bobby is now 41. He’s done 26 years and points out “I was a kid and this is not who I am.” He insisted that he had to save her from her father. His two brothers don’t think that a 15 year old should get life. He calls his girlfriend at the time— the daughter of the victim— “a good chick.” 

The attorney organization that takes on these cases met with Bobby’s mother and brother and told them that they would review his case— they receive tons of them— and decide if they will pursue Bobby’s.  In the meantime, we are told that the father has forgiven his daughter and Bobby for what they have done. 

The lawyer is then shown telling us that in Texas, a Supreme Court ruling came down in 2018 that said if juveniles wanted to appeal under the “kids shouldn’t spend life in jail for stuff they did as kids” ruling, it had to be filed within one year and because of that, Bobby ran out of time and can not appeal his sentence. She speaks to him on the phone to let him know that they cannot take his case due to that but will revisit at some point if that law is challenged or changed.

During Bobby’s last interviews on the show he asks what having him sit in jail all these years accomplishes. How about punishment for murdering someone and trying to kill another?

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Another very sad case with the young man having no criminal history and if not for the girlfriend, would not have committed this crime. Those horrible accusations she made against her father would have of course horrified the boy but still, he went from a seemingly good kid to a murderer. I almost feel there has to be a screw loose somewhere to make that leap. 

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13 hours ago, hoosiermom said:

Another very sad case with the young man having no criminal history and if not for the girlfriend, would not have committed this crime. Those horrible accusations she made against her father would have of course horrified the boy but still, he went from a seemingly good kid to a murderer. I almost feel there has to be a screw loose somewhere to make that leap. 

It was such a strange episode. I wondered what was going on there when it was nearly 45 minutes into the episode and there had been no discussion yet about a resentencing hearing. And then we find out that it is not because a judge decided that he needs to stay in jail or get out per this new law, but simply that time expired and there's nothing that can be done. 

I could totally see this girl riling him up and crying to him about abuse and threatening to leave him if he did not help her. I hope she rots because if not for her, he would never have gotten into this predicament. I read every news article at the time about Pamela Smart and that kid was totally manipulated into killer her husband. That is probably what happened here too. 

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23 hours ago, configdotsys said:

in Texas, a Supreme Court ruling came down in 2018 that said if juveniles wanted to appeal under the “kids shouldn’t spend life in jail for stuff they did as kids” ruling, it had to be filed within one year and because of that, Bobby ran out of time and can not appeal his sentence.

I'm not exactly crying over Bobby remaining in prison but that seems pretty restrictive. It's not like these lifers have a good attorney on speed dial.

23 hours ago, configdotsys said:

He [Bobby] calls his girlfriend at the time— the daughter of the victim— “a good chick.” 

That right there makes me think he shouldn't be out on the street if he can't figure out his former girlfriend was not a "good chick." Man am I glad she got life. Bobby at least had the excuse of thinking she was in some kind of danger, though that doesn't mean he's not responsible. She, on the other hand, seemingly just wanted her parents dead for whatever reason and kept at him until he killed them. That is stone cold.

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This week we have Brandon. At 15, he and his friend raped a 21 year old college student as she headed home from work one night. Four guys driving around, Brandon among them, came upon a young lady getting out of her car. Brandon pulled a gun on her and she offered her car and her belongings but he made her get in her car. As he drove off, another guy jumped into the car and pulled out another gun and put it to her head. The other two were in a car behind. They took her to a desolate area, dragged her out of the car, and Brandon and one other guy beat her and took turns repeatedly raping her. She saw the license number on the other car and just kept saying it to herself mentally while this was going on. The other two guys stole from her car while she was being attacked. After the rape, one of them told Brandon to kill her but Brandon told the victim that he was going to let her live because she was the best white girl he’s ever had. The group was arrested less than an hour after the plate number was turned over to the police. 

Brandon agreed to be interviewed by this show if the victim said it was okay. He later declined to participate. They did not say whether or not the victim approved of his participation but judging how she was throughout the program, I’d say she would not have said no.

Both Brandon and the other rapist got the maximum sentence and Brandon was eligible for a re-sentencing hearing. The victim gave an extremely powerful, emotional statement at the re-sentencing hearing. 

Brandon followed that with what I saw as an unemotional, wooden apology for his actions. He said he was genuinely remorseful and that he was just a boy who didn’t appreciate life at that time. He claimed that it was only after being incarcerated that he realized what he did was wrong and apologized again. There was no information about what he has accomplished in prison since his incarceration, i.e., GED, good behavior, etc. Nothing was said about that at all.

The state wanted 82 years and the defense attorney wanted 25 with time served. 82 years would have him eligible for release at 62 (he’s 32 now) and 25 would have him released at 40.

The judge gave him 50 years on all the various charges (aggravated robbery, rape, menacing, kidnapping)  and is having them run consecutively. Since he’s been in for 17 years, he’ll be eligible for release at age 65. 

I must say that I could feel the victim’s pain throughout the program. Her entire life was upended in so many ways and I feel terrible for her and the ordeal she went through. She said she developed an eating disorder and would never have children. To me, Brandon had the wherewithal to decide not to kill her so he had the wherewithal to decide not to beat and rape her but did, so he belongs in prison. 

Edited by configdotsys · Reason: fixed an incorrect word
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configdotsys: Always so glad to read your posts. I felt the same way about this case and I am glad you put things into the proper wording that allows me to be ok with my feelings. All I could think about is how those who wanted early release would feel if this had happened to them or a loved one. I know it’s their job but they don’t have to be so over the top with the bleeding heart aspect of some of these cases.

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On 6/5/2019 at 6:38 PM, configdotsys said:

He claimed that it was only after being incarcerated that he realized what he did was wrong and apologized again. There was no information about what he has accomplished in prison since his incarceration, i.e., GED, good behavior, etc. Nothing was said about that at all.

If you have to be incarcerated to realize rape is bad, there is a loose screw somewhere in your head.

I don't recall anyone they interviewed (outside of his lawyers) that would stick up for Brandon either. No cousin, friend, brother etc. Maybe I don't recall because they spent a lot of time getting the victim's story out there. This show does a good job IMO covering the the aftermath of these horrible crimes. Not just for the victim but for family members and everyone else caught up in the mess. 

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24 minutes ago, Pandora said:

If you have to be incarcerated to realize rape is bad, there is a loose screw somewhere in your head.

I don't recall anyone they interviewed (outside of his lawyers) that would stick up for Brandon either. No cousin, friend, brother etc. Maybe I don't recall because they spent a lot of time getting the victim's story out there. This show does a good job IMO covering the the aftermath of these horrible crimes. Not just for the victim but for family members and everyone else caught up in the mess. 

Yep. This show was bone dry on Brandon's side. Nothing about his family visiting or working on the outside to help him try to get out, nothing about him doing anything to better himself in prison, nothing to deem him worthy of release or of a reduced sentence. It was crickets. A very hollow program from that point of view. His detached apology and choosing not to speak with the show even after the hearing coupled with the completely devastating effects on the victim, which are still quite visible today makes me happy that he'll be in for a very long time. 

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I've got no sympathy for any of these guys.  They commit murder and destroy people's lives, then whine about how hard it is for them to be in prison.  {eye roll}

It's not like these were cases where a foolish teenager agreed to drive the get-a-way car in a robbery where no one was hurt or killed, then got sent to an adult prison.  Rape and murder are heinous crimes.

Edited by TigerLynx
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:: waves @hoosiermom ::

This was a very long, convoluted story that felt like it was a two hour show and left me thoroughly confused. I hope this makes sense because my notes were all over the place and if I wrote this in chronological order, I'd be jumping back and forth from person to person and it would be more confusing. I was confused just watching it. 

This week we have James, an honor roll student. At 15 years old, he murdered his stepmother and three brothers. He shot them at close range with a shotgun and then set the house on fire. One of the brothers was 5 years old. He told police that he ran to a neighbor’s house to report a strange man had been lurking. When the police asked him to describe what the man was wearing, James looked over at his pile of clothing and began telling the police what he was wearing. Then he said, “I’m going to fry, aren’t I?”

We’re told that the shooting arose from an argument with the stepmother about James’s whereabouts from the night before.  When confronted by stepmom, he went to his room, got the shotgun and killed them all. One brother, 10 years old, ran out of the house when James ran out of ammo. James ran after him, dragged him back into the house, reloaded, put the gun in the boy’s mouth and killed him. Then he set the house on fire.

He gave a casual, all business confession to the police. Clear-headed, he matter of factly said he intended to kill them. No one could find anything in his background that shows mental illness or any problems at home. He was found competent and  instead of going to trial, took a plea and got three life sentences in prison.   

His attorney arranged for him to see a psychologist, whom he has been seeing for a year. A positive statement from that psychologist could help him get re-sentenced. His lawyer insists that he is not who he was in ’91. I'm not the same as I was in '91 either so what's the point there? The prosecutor, when asked if he’d be okay on the outside, said, “I think would depend on whether someone got in his way.” The prosecutor or one of the police interviewed said he was a manipulator and this was clearly demonstrated when he began talking to the producers of this program. She asked him a question and he began telling her she is amazing and how he heard that from so many others. When she ignored that and just asked him a legit question he laughed and said, “you changed the subject.” 

His father— who gave me the heebie jeebies— kept the family property and said that people want their pound of flesh but this is the law (the re-sentencing possibility). He wants something positive to come out of this. Later in the program, the sisters tell us that he was abusive and the wife lived in fear of upsetting her husband. She did not see her family much because of that. He would not allow her to have Thanksgiving with her sisters and then two days later, was killed. 

But James has another issue to deal with. He escaped from prison. The new law declared sentencing juveniles to life was unconstitutional, but James’ case is complicated because there is also a statute that says if one escapes from prison, they are not eligible for parole. So which wins out? This is the question a judge will have to consider.

James simply says he was 15 and it was tragic and blah blah blah. Now we get to the violin part where he tells us that he was caught in the middle of the divorce, that his stepfather beat him, that when the stepmother went to college, he thought she was cheating on his father, etc. You can tell he’s working up to the “So it can’t be MY fault here, look at what I had to deal with” conclusion. Oddly, James then says, “My dad never told me to kill anyone but I wanted to protect him so that was one of the factors that went into me wanting to kill Becky.” What? And what about killing the siblings? Why did they have to be murdered? No one asked him that question. Clearly, stuff was going on inside that house but it just seemed like James was throwing every possibility at the wall and hoping one stuck.

The psychologist— obviously being paid by the defense or some legal aid— says that James is “surprisingly normal” has matured, shown genuine remorse and is very low risk to offend again. Dude needs to buy a clue, in my opinion. 

And now we have an absolutely fake cry from James, complete with the requisite, "I'm sorry" and sniffle, but no watery eyes at all. That has me sitting here with serious secondhand embarrassment. It could not have been more bogus and laughable.

I have to say that I had a lot of admiration for the prosecutor here. He was not smug, disgusted or angry or full of some agenda. He said, “At some point, you just can’t mitigate the damages. They’re too great.” He later pointed out that there is just no rehabilitation for someone who murders children, one by putting a gun in his mouth. I totally agree with him here. 

James’s view is “I know they are upset but I was 15 and I don’t want to be here.” Dad’s view is that while he doesn’t understand why the sisters are still so upset that "it’s their right to be.” Dad wants to see him get out.  Nothing about how James has fared in prison besides the escape and no supportive relatives to be found anywhere here.

They get their re-sentencing hearing but the credits roll without us seeing what happened. At the end, we read that a special prosecutor was appointed by the state to review James’ request for re-sentencing and after a review, a judge dismissed James’ case. I guess that means he won’t be re-sentenced? But he got a re-sentencing hearing granted. So what’s going on there? Dad says, “Hopefully the system works. We’ll see how it goes.” If James is still in prison and will be for the rest of his life, to me the system worked just fine.

Edited by configdotsys · Reason: spelling and clarity
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4 hours ago, TigerLynx said:

I've got no sympathy for any of these guys.  They commit murder and destroy people's lives, then whine about how hard it is for them to be in prison.  {eye roll}

It's not like these were cases where a foolish teenager agreed to drive the get-a-way car in a robbery where no one was hurt or killed, then got sent to an adult prison.  Rape and murder are heinous crimes.

That's so true. I also find it very strange that most of the victim's families say the same thing: "We don't want him to get out of prison because we don't want anyone else to go through what we are going through." I totally get that sentiment and it certainly doe apply, but I must say if it was a member of my family, my reaction would be, "I don't want him to get out of prison because my sister/brother/mother/father/spouse, etc. has no option of getting out of where they are." 

There's something of an entitlement mentality among a lot of these prisoners in which they believe that since they were only 16 and now they are 40 that somehow their crime was so 25 years ago that it's some kind of crime to keep them locked up. They get pissy and pouty and say things like, "What is keeping me here accomplishing?" Let me count the ways... Even the ones that have been relatively good behaviorally in prison say things like, "See? I haven't been any trouble here so why should I be locked up?" Maybe they haven't been any trouble because they have been locked up and if left to their own on the streets may have hurt someone else or worse.

I watch a lot of prison shows. I found Hard Time to be just a terrific program and wish it was still around. I actually bought all of the seasons. Lock Up and Lockdown tended to spend too much time on blood, gore, and violence. Hard Time really showed us the day to day life of prisoners and I found myself feeling for some of them because they were well spoken, intelligent and didn't "seem" like killers. But they were and there's a devastated family out there somewhere so you have to keep that in mind. 

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Something else to keep in mind is that they could have been given the death penalty.  Instead they are around to complain 25 years later that it's not fair to keep them locked up.  I will counter that argument with what they did to their innocent victims wasn't fair.  The victims didn't get a choice about what happened to them.  These guys made a choice that landed them in prison.

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6 hours ago, configdotsys said:

If James is still in prison and will be for the rest of his life, to me the system worked just fine.

I have watched a few of these shows, one recently where it seemed law enforcement, prosecutors and everyone railroaded this young man.  It made me very angry, as he at the very least had a right for a new trial.  

But this James, wow.....this is one guy who should never ever ever get out.  Configdotsys's post said it all. Well done.

 That father was as you said truly creepy and he scared the hell out of me. 

 Very tragic story and it may not be nice, but I hope something horrible happens to that father.

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:: waves back at configdotsys ::   This one was a tough one to watch. It made no sense to me at all. What was this kid protecting his dad from? It was just a bunch of BS in my opinion. He didn’t even act like he was serious about all of this. According to an article I read, he has a parole hearing June 26th. I will try and remember to check on it and report back.

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This show feels like it’s 3 hours long.

This week, we have Otis. At 16, who received three life sentences for breaking into a woman’s house and shooting both her and her daughter.  The daughter was shot in the face and her teeth were all over the floor and the lower half of her face was just gone. Unable to speak, she was able to write a note saying that a black male had entered the house and demanded money. When the mother refused, he shot them.  

The following day, Otis’s name came up as a possible suspect when a witness came forward to tell cops that Otis told her that he broke into the home and shot the residents. Police in the area were very familiar with Otis and his criminal record and picked him up.

Under questioning, he admitted to the shooting and showed no remorse. The detective said he almost sounded proud of it. He called the victims “bitches” in his statement and was more upset that he was caught than about what he did.

The mother died, the daughter survived, and since the incident has had 32 reconstructive surgeries on her face.

Otis took a plea and received three life sentences. His lawyer says that Otis did indeed commit those crimes and it is not an issue of guilt or innocence. He claims that Otis is a human being with potential and a different person than the one who committed these crimes. I would like to take a moment to point out here that the young woman who has had 32 facial surgeries to try to fix her exploded face and has to take over a dozen medications daily and is afraid to leave the house is not the same person she was back then either. Neither is her mother.

The daughter is interviewed and is very obviously a changed person. She looks absolutely AMAZING for a person who had the bottom of her face shot off. She does not like to go out in public and needs medication in order to be around people. She said that any time she goes somewhere, people ask her, “What happened?” I raised en eyebrow at that comment because I must say that I don’t notice anything that would make me wonder about that if I saw her in public and I cannot imagine people asking a person with a deformity, “Hey, what happened?” I get where she is coming from though because she sees and feels abnormal now due to all the reconstruction but still, that remark seemed off to me. She is clearly heavily affected by the trauma she experienced and-- meds or not-- will never be the same. She does not feel safe anywhere anymore.

Otis’s mother insists that he was just a child and would never do anything like that again.

Otis is 36 now and interviewed via a camera pointing at a pay telephone in the prison. He says it was dangerous and he fought and argued with people when he first got to prison but over his 20 years so far, he has tried to grow from it and stop the negative behavior.

Otis insists that we just don’t know the whole story. His “whole story” is that he was a child and didn’t go in there to shoot anyone. My take on the “whole story” is that he had a gun and a mask, he wanted money, he saw two young women home alone and decided to rob them and when they resisted he “shot the bitches.”  

His new attorney makes a disingenuous statement when he says it’s wrong to keep someone locked up who committed a crime while they were in the 8th grade. When I was 16, I was a junior in high school. In court, he plans to tell the judge how much he’s grown. Hopefully, the victim’s sister and the daughter who survived will appear to point out that their mother, shot dead at 34 by this guy, has not grown since this happened.

We are taken through Otis’s childhood pictures and mom tells us that he’s always been a good kid. He came from a two parent family in which mom and dad worked opposite shifts so someone was always home. But then dad started “running around” and they got divorced. Mom says that’s when all the trouble started. He blamed mom for the divorce, he started hanging in the streets, getting into trouble. At 12, he became part of a gang and so begins committing crimes. Otis insists though that it was not his parents’ divorce that led him to the gang life, he just always wanted to hang out with older people and was attracted to that life because it was fun and cool. Note the word “wanted” in that sentence. Well, he got what he wanted: the excitement and fun of committing crimes. And now he gets to pay for that.

The psychologist says living in an environment in which there is a lot of crime can lure kids to do stupid things that can escalate to criminal behavior. I tend to tune out this portion of the program because I think the comments these professionals make are heavily dependent on which side is paying for the commentary.

At 12, Otis was arrested for an armed robbery and when Mom asked the judge to send him to a boys’ home the judge said no because Otis had a home and parents. The judge gave him 20 years probation and everyone -- including the victims' family-- seems to agree that had they put Otis in prison at that time, this crime would not have occurred. That may be true but that argument rings hollow to me. No one knows what sentence he would have gotten or how things would have been different. Mom believes that the system failed her.

Otis’s original attorney takes us on a tour of the old neighborhood and insists that Otis never had a chance in that kind of environment. His drug addiction was because someone else gave it to him and he became hooked. The attorney says that in Otis’s drug addled state of mind, he felt he needed to protect himself from the two women so he shot them.

First Otis tells us he doesn’t remember anything. I wonder if he remembers telling the police— at the time— exactly what he did, how and when he did it, and pointed out that he “shot the bitches.” Then he tells us that he knocked on the door and they opened it and let him in. He says at one point he freaked out and when he did, one of the women tried to grab the gun and it was an accident that they were shot.

Mom says he didn’t mean to shoot anyone.

Otis says he regrets it. Says he's changed. He’s been sober for 20 years and never had any disciplinary write ups in prison. His original attorney calls him a model inmate. That is great, but does not erase the crime that was committed and being good should not be reason to let a murderer go free.

The daughter doesn’t want him out and is terrified of making a statement at the hearing but she and her husband say that she "has to." 

We’re told that the hearing was delayed and a new date was not set yet. Mom’s frustrated because she wants him out and waiting is difficult. The reason for the delay is because his attorney has been working on a deal with the DA behind the scenes. Otis got three life without parole sentences on these charges and his attorneys are trying to get that changed to life with parole. This would mean that he could be eligible for parole after serving 30 years. Since he has served about 20 now, in 10 years he’d be eligible for a parole hearing and may or may not get out at that time.

They eventually make an agreement and 36 year old Otis will become eligible for parole at age 46. The daughter is terrified that if he’s ever released, he will come looking for her. Otis believes that of course he should be given a chance. He claims that he regrets what he did every day.

The daughter was given an opportunity to attend the hearing during which a judge will decide whether or not to make the agreement official. She declined. I found that strange because she and her husband both said that she “had to” attend the re-sentencing hearing to show why he should not be let out, but now she is not going to the hearing to plead with the judge to say no because she lives in fear of her life. She is very upset at this deal, and I don’t quite understand why she won’t attend the hearing.

She shows us about a dozen bottles of medications that she has to take every day: anti-anxiety, depression, pain meds and a whole slew of antibiotics. Her sister is planning to speak at the hearing on behalf of the family “in two weeks.”

We are then given a “To be continued,” tag at the end of the program. I found that to be VERY strange as the hearing will either be yay or nay and I don’t see material worth another hour (this hour already felt like three) so maybe there is some sort of major twist coming? Why didn’t they just hold the show in the can until the hearings were all over and close it up with this one program? I guess we’ll see.

I didn’t buy Otis’s sincerity. I appreciate that he’s sober and doesn’t get in trouble in prison but to give gold stars for doing what you are supposed to do don’t fly with in any aspect of life. I don’t see anything praiseworthy about him behaving and it does not seem as though he was a proactive inmate that took advantage of education programs or vocational training. He seems to have just kind of hung out for the past 20 years. I just can't agree with letting this guy out. All of his good behavior doesn’t bring back that young mother and it does not take away the desperate pain, both emotional and physical, that the daughter has to live with on a daily basis.

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Once again, totally agree with you. I never want to see this guy out. Committing crimes and being on drugs since the age of 12 is very good reason number one. His brain has been changed from the chemicals and violence permanently. There is no rehabilitation. Reason number two is that he has taken no responsibility. He has now flipped the story to the shootings being the victims fault and it was all an accident. What a load of crap. How these people can even consider defending this hardened criminal with zeal is beyond me. I feel so deeply for the family and especially for the daughter and all the trauma she has been thru.

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1 hour ago, hoosiermom said:

Reason number two is that he has taken no responsibility. He has now flipped the story to the shootings being the victims fault and it was all an accident. What a load of crap.

I had to resist the urge to throw something at the TV when he started spouting that tripe. I suppose he accidentally dragged the daughter by the hair somehow.

Sadly enough, if the DA and Otis' lawyers have worked out a deal, the judge in charge of the case will probably accept it. Or maybe, (I hope) given the "to be continued" means something else happens.

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Of all of the episodes of this program, this one disturbed me the most.

“If this is not a heinous murder, then there will never be one,” is one of the opening quotes in this 8th episode. This week we meet Ronald, a 17 year old who participated in an 8-10 hour torture session. The body had lain for such a long time, all that was left were skeletal remains. They were able— miraculously, I’d say— to hydrate one of the fingers and get a print which they matched to a missing person.

Ronald’s girlfriend Crystal— a 16 year old who had been kicked out of her home— rented a room in the house of the victim and Ronald was a frequent visitor. Once identified, police went to his home and these two told the police that the victim moved out and they had no idea where he went. After doing a luminol test, the police found blood spatter on the wall and carpet. Renee, a friend of Crystal, was also living in the house and participated in the crime. 

One of the jurors believed that Ronald and Crystal wanted the victim gone so they could have the apartment for themselves. According to Renee, the girls began seducing the victim and Ronald came up from behind and put the guy in a chokehold. He then told the girls to beat him with a baseball bat. When he was knocked out, they rolled him up in a carpet, took him to the woods, chained him to a tree and took turns hitting him with the bat. When it was Ronald’s turn, he said, “Look at me, I’m Babe Ruth,” and hit the victim in the head as hard as he could several times with the bat. He then beat him about the body breaking many bones. Crystal suggested that they burn him. The victim begged for his life and they burned him alive. 

[rant]

I am only 7 minutes into the show at this point and weep for humanity. I don’t care what happens later, these monsters should be in jail for life. Even that is too good for them. What the HELL is wrong with people?! They’re kids! Where do they get it in their mind to beat and torture someone? Oh my God.

[/rant]

Anyway, getting back to this horrific tale, after a quick trial, Crystal got life without parole, Renee pled to a lesser crime after agreeing to testify against the others and I did not hear them say what kind of time she got. The jury recommended the death penalty for Ronald but that was changed to life without parole later. then came this court ruling about juveniles and life without and here we are to see if Ronald gets a hearing.

The victim’s family declined to participate in this program. Ronald is now 36 and hopes this hearing results in his release. He is interviewed with the low tech, horrible quality of a cheap camera being trained on him while he talks on a prison telephone. He goes on a bit about how hard it is in prison and that he was young when he arrived. They transferred him to the county jail SEVEN years ago to await this hearing. We’re then told that he only is allowed out of his cell once a week for an hour. His lawyers say his brain was not developed when he did this. A psychologist has been evaluating him.

Oh my God!

We’re then told that the next day, the victim, beaten to a pulp and burned was still alive! He was trying to call for help. Unfortunately, Crystal and Ron heard him as they walked by so Ron decided to finish him off by breaking his neck. Since he was so burned and bloody, he could not get a grip on him so they drove to a department store and bought a meat cleaver. The prosecutor said something that will say with me for a very long time. He said he just kept thinking how horrible it must have been for the victim to see that the people returning to respond to his pleas for help were these two. Once Ron cut his throat with the cleaver and walked way, the victim was still calling out so Ron went back with the cleaver and finished him off.

The investigator that worked this case is still traumatized by this crime. That comes across very clearly. They give a lot of info on the victim: was in the military, church going, nice guy, divorced…

Back to Ronald in prison. I had to rewind a few times to make sure i heard this right. Ronald says, “I’m not a monster. If people went back to see who I was and what I was doing, to say that I’m a monster, that doesn’t fit. That doesn’t make any sense.” I have no words for that statement.

I am losing my mind here watching this. And it’s only 23 minutes in!

A “mitigation specialist” tells us that Ron was very polite, respectful and easy to work with and she was surprised when she read about what he had done. She thinks that the person he is now and that person he supposedly was back then just don’t jibe well. Um, excuse me ma’am, with all due respect, WTF does being polite to you in a meeting have to do with anything? Who cares if it does not fit with what you know of him. He tortured someone FFS.

Back to Ron on the cheap phone. “I’m not a monster. I’m not evil. I went to the YMCA and coached kids.” Oh and lest we forget, every Thursday he’d go back to his old elementary school and read to the third graders and was very active in his local church youth group. I just can’t. 

Ron has a nice family, says a friend of his. He says Ron was a nice guy and really liked Crystal a lot and would go really into his feelings when they talked about girls? Sounds like he was coached to say that because it sounded weird. They were trying to make him sound like a kind hearted soul or something.

Then we get his defense attorney telling us that since his father was a pastor, he had that morality thing going on. Right, morality is torturing another human being and pretending you're Babe Ruth with someone’s head and body. “He was a good kid.” No priors for Ron or Crystal.

The psychologist says he had no history of violence. People described him as helpful to a fault. The investigator tells us that Crystal was a huge influence on Ron and the implication there is that this innocent boy with great grades, from a religious home, and who got a job to pay for Crystal’s rented room after being thrown out of her house was influenced by this troubled girl. If that is the angle that they wanted to portray, fine, however, they just spent 30 minutes feeding us the ingredients that made up a depraved, violent, disgusting waste product of a person and now we’re supposed to spin and say, “Oh wait, he was just swell. It was all her fault!” Not happening.

The “mitigation” person tells us that going to school, dealing with his family (wait, I thought they were wonderful? they told us everything was great at home), having a job and spending on his girlfriend were so much to handle. Show of hands, how many others out there worked in high school like I did and kept up with schoolwork, friends, and a boyfriend/girlfriend? Not sure how those things would turn someone into a powder keg. 

Back to the victim: his friend says he was nuts to allow two underage girls to move into his house. I totally agree. Word-- from Crystal the convicted-- was that he was approaching her sexually and showed her his privates. When she rebuffed him, he threw her up against the wall. This could definitely have happened. An adult male allowing underage girls to live with him in his home is just asking for all kinds of trouble.

Crystal is heard on recording sound like she is fake crying saying he walked around in briefs, asked her to have sex with him and pushed her when she said no. She said she thought it was disgusting. The psychologist says Ron was protecting her. the “mitigation” person tells us that his brain was overloaded and he did not know how to handle this situation. So essentially he exploded.

The prosecutor tells us that Ron went to the apartment carrying the rope and chain. Doesn’t sound like a sudden explosive act to me. After the torture and killing, they tossed the bat off a bridge and returned the cleaver to the department store. They are shown on video waiting for a refund, and the girls are petting and stroking the cleaver “in a sexual way” on the counter and laughing. Then they went home and slept in the victim’s bed all giddy because the month’s rent had been paid. They took his checks, forged his signature and cashed them. Crystal showed off the body to her younger sister. The investigator insists that this was a cold, calculated, premeditated murder. And I believe him.

A new psych comes on to tell us that it’s not helpful to just look at the crime 20 years later. That people mature as they grow up. I say to that that being sent to prison is punishment for a crime you committed. I don’t care if you grow up to be a super nice person after you mature in jail. If you savagely murdered another human being in the manner that this guy did, all bets are off and your ass belongs in prison for good.

Ron says he’d make a different decision today. That he was impulsive then. All teens are impulsive. This was something else entirely, IMO. The victim’s friend wrote a letter to the newspaper about this new re-sentencing law asking who is going to speak for his friend. The friend breaks down at this point with hands shaking. He attended the hearing, as did the victim’s parents, ex-wife and daughter. 

There was now just a commercial that says “Next week, [the season finale] three will be re-sentenced.” I remember last week said To Be Continued, and it looks like this week, we won’t learn what happens to Ronald, but who is the other one? There was a woman saying “I’m sorry” in court. Did we see an episode with a woman defendant? I don’t remember that and wondered as the season went on why there were no female prisoners profiled. Maybe the finale is that gal’s story followed by updates on the others? I guess we’ll see.

UPDATE: At the end of the program we see that the woman was Crystal and she will have her hearing first followed by Ron. The other is the continued case from last week. 

These “continued” episodes were a bad idea. Most of the episodes of this program were closed in the hour which is how it should be. The victim’s daughter and ex-wife testified at the hearing. His parents were a mess. The defense attorney says the judge needs to hear about the human side of Ron. Oh, but we won’t be hearing that from Ron because he’s not going to testify. Uh-huh. The warden says he only had three disciplinary issues and has been a model inmate. His pastor father testifies. His lawyer once again says that a teenager does not view things with an adult mindset. We’re brought back to the whole teenage impulse, girlfriend excuse. If he's such a model inmate and has changed to much, why did he not testify? What could he possibly do to damage his chances here if he has nothing to hide and is truly remorseful? Something is rotten in Denmark.

The prosecutor says essentially that an impulse killing does not drag on for ten hours and over two days Ron kept choosing to do one thing and another. “It’s not like he just took a gun and shot him. Or beat him with the bat. He made choice after choice, after choice.” (paraphrased).

The judge tells us that he will set a date for sentencing. The show closes with the investigator saying he was looking for some type of change or remorse from Ron but he didn’t see it. He had a cold stare, did not look at the victim’s family and does not think he should be released. I don’t either. Crystal can rot in jail too. 

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Configdotsys: I think I love you. Once again you knocked it out of the park. I cried watching this last night and cried again reading your post. I think what hit me the most was that all of the examples they gave of his wonderful behavior and the great things he did on behalf of his defense, worked in the opposite for me. It just proved to me he had no soul or the ability for empathy. If you can do all those “wonderful” things and fool everyone to the extent he did and still be able to do what he did to that man, that is simply pure evil. This episode was indeed difficult to watch. There is NO excuse for what he did and imo he can never be rehabilitated. That kind of evil just doesn’t go away with any amount of time.

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On 6/12/2019 at 6:27 PM, configdotsys said:

That's so true. I also find it very strange that most of the victim's families say the same thing: "We don't want him to get out of prison because we don't want anyone else to go through what we are going through." I totally get that sentiment and it certainly doe apply, but I must say if it was a member of my family, my reaction would be, "I don't want him to get out of prison because my sister/brother/mother/father/spouse, etc. has no option of getting out of where they are." 

There's something of an entitlement mentality among a lot of these prisoners in which they believe that since they were only 16 and now they are 40 that somehow their crime was so 25 years ago that it's some kind of crime to keep them locked up. They get pissy and pouty and say things like, "What is keeping me here accomplishing?" Let me count the ways... Even the ones that have been relatively good behaviorally in prison say things like, "See? I haven't been any trouble here so why should I be locked up?" Maybe they haven't been any trouble because they have been locked up and if left to their own on the streets may have hurt someone else or worse.

I watch a lot of prison shows. I found Hard Time to be just a terrific program and wish it was still around. I actually bought all of the seasons. Lock Up and Lockdown tended to spend too much time on blood, gore, and violence. Hard Time really showed us the day to day life of prisoners and I found myself feeling for some of them because they were well spoken, intelligent and didn't "seem" like killers. But they were and there's a devastated family out there somewhere so you have to keep that in mind. 

I am late to the party, but preach it, my sister from another mister! I love prison shows too and also agree that Lockdown and/or similar shows are too violent. (FYI: The season just finished, but The Redemption Project with Van Jones on CNN is sooooooo good! You’d like it!)

Entitlement is the name of their game and I could care less.

I also can’t stand it when the fucking defendants smirk or smile in a court room. Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Where is the defense attorney and why aren’t they saying “Here is some shit you shouldn’t do at all because it straight up looks bad!”?

The episode with the kidnapper/rapist from Youngstown, OH made me want to jump through my TV screen, travel back in time and smack the smiles off of their sassy faces. Smiling and smirking in court! I’d toss their arses into prison just for that!

After reading your excellent post, all I could think about was the line from one of Chris Rock’s comedy specials about people who want a cookie for bragging about not doing stuff they’re not supposed to be doing in the first place! 

“I take care of my kids! I ain’t never been to jail!”

”You’re supposed to take care of your kids! You’re not supposed to go to jail! What do you want? A cookie?” 🤣🤣🤣

(I’m not one to gender bash, but he was referring to men bragging about taking care of their kids and never going to jail. I love anything Chris Rock does, but he’s a moron for cheating on his wife!)

Edited by Bridget
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I watched the season finale last night and man, I couldn't hold back the tears during the daughter's testimony in the case where Otis Daniels murdered her mother and shot her sister in the face.  So amazingly brave.  When you lose someone to such a brutal, pointless act of violence and evil, you dream of what you want to say to the monster(s) who did it.  I didn't have the courage when it happened in my family, but I'm so glad she did.  

And in the Cordell Richards case, did the one girl's mom really think she'd be going home that day??  "I brought her a change of clothes!" That was some major delusion.

Also, did anyone watch the episode before this?  I'm not sure if it was part of this series or a special, but it featured Josh Phillips who at 14 murdered his 8 year old neighbor and kept her body under his bed for a week.  I vividly remember that case when it happened, so I was fascinated to see where all the parties are now. I'm very glad the judge kept his life sentence in place. 

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So here we are at the final episode of this show. This week we’ll find out if last week’s Ronald and his accomplice Kristel will get reductions. We’ll also see if Otis, who killed a mother and shot her daughter in the face will get one.

Otis’s hearing was first. His attorney asks that the sentenced be changed to life with parole. The  victim’s other daughter spoke at the hearing as the victim-daughter did not want to go. I thought this was a mistake as that woman could have had such an impact. But whatever the reason, she just felt that she could not do it. 

The daughter who spoke was 17 at the time of the crime and said that her mother had given Otis her checkbook and money and begged him not to hurt them but he shot them anyway. When she directs comments at Otis that he should be in jail until the day he dies, he shakes his head no. Otis has nothing to say and the judge is ready on the spot to speak. We only hear her say that she is changing the sentence to life with parole. We were not privy to her comments before or after and I wonder why. This doesn’t mean Otis will ever get out, but he will get hearings in the future so it’s possible that someday he might be freed. I would guess that the two sisters will likely show up to any future parole hearing he has. 

Onto Kristel. We hear some of her recorded interrogation and through tears she says “I can’t get it out of me,” as her mother and grandmother beg her to tell what happened. Her grandmother says, “Just like you told us.” Kristel then says, “I’m going to hell. I’m going to jail. I’m going to die in jail.” From your mouth to God’s ears sweetheart, and even that’s too good for your sadistic ass, you evil little bitch.

There’s a bit of history on the crime and we are shown clips from Ron’s re-sentencing hearing. The judge there wanted to wait until after Kristel’s hearing to rule on Ron. Interestingly enough, when we finally see their hearings, Ron goes first. 

We get to the cheap camera, poor quality video call. Kristel fixes her hair and smiles into the phone. She says that she's done all kids of positive things in prison and hopes the judge sees that. None of those positive things are described. She wants to apologize to the family so she can have peace. Yes, she said "she" not "they." Not that her apologizing would give them any sort of peace, but still, it's all about Kristel. We see Kristel’s family getting ready for the hearing. Her mother— you know, the one that threw Kristel to the streets when she was 16— tells us that today is the day for the Lord to do his thing and rule in her favor. 

At least Kristel speaks, unlike most of the people who are given these hearings. A psychologist tells us that she was sexually abused as a child and that later when her mother married a military person, she lived under strict conditions regarding where she could go and stuff and if she did not want to follow the family rules, then she needed to find another place to live. Certainly a refrain that many an American teen heard growing up.

Another psychologist says that her mother picked the boyfriend over her, blah, blah, blah, she found comfort in the arms of her boyfriend. Okay, I get it. but no. Regarding the torture, the psychologist also tells us that Kristel was saying to herself, “Why don’t I get away from this? Why don’t I do something positive?” I wonder at what point was she pondered these things? While she was beating the guy with the bat or after she suggested they light him up? Maybe it was when they were stroking the cleaver they were returning to Walmart or wherever they bought it. Or maybe it was the next day when they went back and finished him off. Was she pondering how wrong it was while she gleefully slept with her Ron in the victim’s bed knowing that the apartment was now theirs? Or perhaps it was when they forged the victim’s checks or told the police that he moved away and they had no idea where he was. 

[rant]

What is the point at which a person decides to such a heinous thing? If you are sexually abused as a child and someone comes towards you in a sexual way and you react and shoot them between the eyes, I can actually see that. If you see your parent being beaten by her significant other and you take a crowbar and beat him to death, I can see that as well. 

Where is the thought that makes a teenage girl and her boyfriend decide to torture someone for 12 hours or more and then more the next day? You typically want to get rid of the menace that is in your way. The way to do that is to kill them. That these two chose to torture that guy, beat him about the head and body with a bat over and over, burn him alive, chain him to a fence, buy a cleaver, leave him for dead for a day and then come back to finish him off, then return the $9.99 cleaver for a refund says everything to me. 

There is no forgiveness for that. None. Zero. Nada. I don’t care how sorry you are. Maybe Kristel did flourish in prison because she lived in a structured environment with enforced rules that she could not escape so she had to comply and found that this type of living arrangement kept her in line and she followed by doing well. I don’t discount all of that and good for her. However, because she did not have that kind of environment growing up and instead was a wild kid who ended up participating in— and in some cases directing a horrific crime— does not mean that we should all say, “Aww, see how well she would have done had she had the right upbringing. She made up for lost time so we should let her go.” No. Sorry. Just no. This crossed so many lines that having the book thrown at her was simply not enough.

[/rant]

Essentially, Kristel is blaming Ron of the churchgoing parents and perfect home life, for the entire crime. He said get the rope. She was sick to her stomach, he said it was okay. The psychologist tells us that at the time it all made sense to Kristel what they were doing because of the emotional experience, however, Kristel tells us that she was crying and screaming during this “all made sense” moment. 

The psych says she’s different now from the emotionally crippled person she was two decades ago. The victim’s daughter speaks again, then it’s Kristel’s turn. She reads a statement apologizing and saying that she wanted to contact the family over the years but was not allowed to. She turns on the waterworks and says everything that she was probably told to include. She says it was a horrible horrible thing that she took part in and admitted that she knew right from wrong at 16. She felt it was wrong at the time and was weak and afraid, easily influenced. She still can’t believe that it was her that did that.

I have zero sympathy for this girl. Be sorry, be ashamed, but rot in prison forever. The judge says he will rule soon. Kristel’s family thinks her statement was powerful and that the Lord is going to move this mountain for them. Kristel’s aunt is convinced that she will soon be taking her niece home with her.  

The judge returns. The prosecutor nails her to the wall on her having known it was wrong. Did you know it was wrong to beat him with a bat? Yes. Did you know it was wrong to light him on fire? Yes. He then tells us about the victim’s injuries: the guy was essentially broken into a million pieces by these people. I felt so horrible for his family having to listen to this. I did not see Kristel’s attorney asking her any questions, nor are we treated to this list of “positive things” that Kristel has accomplished in prison. Case will be rescheduled.

Four months later, Kristel and Ron head to court for the re-sentencing. Mom and aunt insist that the good Lord is going to tell their baby to go home and live life. They are saying this as if Kristel has been waiting for an all clear from an illness or something instead of her being in prison for torture and murder. Let’s set up a Go Fund Me for these two to buy them a clue. They even brought with them a change of clothes for Kristel so she can get out of the grimy prison garb for the ride home. I kid you not.

Oh there’s Ron heading into the courtroom. Ron has nothing to say as the judge tells him that his life sentence is appropriate. No reaction from Ron. A silent cheer from me. One down, one to go.

Here comes Kristel. She tells her attorney that she is scared. "The life sentence is appropriate," says the judge. Her aunt whispers to her mother “You gotta let her go.” Mom says, “What just happened?” and the aunt says, “She’s gotta stay longer.” Longer? How about forever? They run after her attorney for an explanation. “He sentenced her to life again,” the lawyer says, “He didn’t change the sentence.” Her mother freaks out and keeps saying, Oh God, oh God,” as if this is just absolutely shocking news. Please send money to the GFM campaign as clues are needed here.

Kristel is then seen on video phone saying how hurt she is. I mean she didn’t like expect to go home now but she was thinking of some kind of relief. “It’s not like I’m trying to say i didn’t do anything wrong…. but that’s not who I am. I made a wrong choice. I’m not a killer. I'm gonna fight this until the day I die because I don't feel like I deserve this.” Again, it is that entitlement mentality of “This was so 20 years ago and I don’t see why I should have to continue staying here.” I mean, like, what purpose does it serve?

You know who got relief, Kristel? I did. And the rest of the viewers did. And most importantly, the victim’s family did. 

I doubt this show will be renewed. Not sure of the viewership but if it did not catch on much here, I'd say it's curtains. 

Edited by configdotsys · Reason: fixed a couple of errors
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