Archive for June, 2012


take chances


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Roxy Music performing “Take a Chance with Me”


picture = 1000 votes

Politics in Memphis, as in most places, is pretty inbred. Even though power has been parceled out among the players along clear-cut jurisdictional and functional lines, the reality is that everyone is partying together and in bed with everyone else.

In the picture above, we see James Prindle’s judge Bobby Carter with his impartial arm around James Prindle’s prosecutor Jennifer Nichols at a fundraiser for Carter on May 28, 2010.

Last week I had a conversation with an aide of Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell in which the aide asserted that there is nothing Luttrell can do to influence Judge Carter’s handling of James Prindle’s case—that Bobby Carter’s criminal court is outside Luttrell’s jurisdiction. True.

And yet here is a picture of Mayor Luttrell at the same Bobby Carter fundraiser (if you blow up this picture, you’ll see the lady is wearing a Bobby Carter for Judge sticker). Luttrell is apparently one of Carter’s supporters, and Luttrell is influential. I think we should ignore what Mayor Luttrell’s aide said and continue sending Mr. Luttrell e-mail messages as I suggested in my June 23 post. They talk.

It’s worth the effort. Your e-mails to Mayor Luttrell over the weekend had the desired effect. A conversation at the bench on Monday was overheard. Audible consternation was shared by Judge Carter, Prosecutor Nichols, and Defense Attorney Ferguson.

The whole world is watching, folks.

Mayor Luttrell’s aide told me that Luttrell is the chief executive of Shelby County, not the city (down here in Texas we call these people “judges”; in Tennessee they are called “mayors”.) He suggested that we should be contacting the Mayor of the City of Memphis, instead. After all, it is the poor work of the detectives on his city’s police force that failed to identify the real perpetrator of this crime of which James has been wrongfully accused and convicted.

This is a good idea. The name of the mayor of the city of Memphis is A C Wharton, Jr. His e-mail address is

Mayor Wharton may be able to empathize with James’ predicament. In 2007 his son, A C Wharton III, then 34, was convicted of the statutory rape of a 13-year-old he met in an Internet chat room. Wharton III has recently been released from a Knox County jail and, as he pleaded guilty, he will now be a registered sex offender. Mayor Wharton is a lawyer. He knows the consequences for his son are serious and lifelong.

Perhaps Mayor Wharton will take an interest in helping spare an innocent boy a fate far worse than that which has befallen his own son. Wharton is said to be a good man and an extremely popular politician.

Write to him. Tell him what you think of what’s being done to James. Maybe he will listen. Maybe he will ask Judge Carter to reconsider his court’s politically self-destructive actions with regard to James. It cannot hurt. It might even help.

Judge Carter knows this trial has placed his court in a bad light. On Monday, he, Jennifer Nichols, and Claiborne Ferguson were overheard discussing how they could bury the transcripts from the previous Friday’s court session.

Believe me, all these politicos understand that crime is bad for business, both public and private. Memphis has been recently ranked as the #5 city in the US for high rates of crime. The way to turn this around is not to be putting innocent people, especially vulnerable juveniles, in jail or prison. It only fuels disrespect for the law, the police, and public officials.

Whether or not they are all friends, these politicians do not want the mud being stirred up in Carter’s courtroom to splash on them. The injustice being perpetrated against James in Carter’s court may be within Bobby Carter’s sole jurisdiction, but it’s everybody’s problem and it’s getting bigger, more visible, embarrassing, and—here is the crucial thing—more memorable.

I talked yesterday with a scriptwriter in Hollywood with one of the networks. He is developing a script based on James’ story. When this story airs in a year or more, the voters will be reminded of what is happening in Memphis today.

No matter how dismissively some politicians may regard voters in any given jurisdiction, most voters are not retarded. They may have short attention spans, but many have long memories. Long enough to be brought into the voting booth.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to this selection from the Deliverance soundtrack, “Dueling Banjos”


mosquito buzz

Strange things are happening in Memphis.

We have still not heard from the judge about our offer of a solution to his problems. That’s no surprise.

“Shouldn’t we be communicating with the judge through James’ attorney?” you may ask. Ideally, yes… unfortunately Claiborne Ferguson is not returning our phone calls. The other day, according to James, Ferguson said he was going to try to get this case moved back to juvenile court “where they can’t help you”—“they” meaning us. Ferguson has told James that he filed a motion to accomplish this. If the case were moved back into juvenile court and then properly waived back into adult court (Judge Lane made some serious errors in the original waiver which denied James due process), then James would lose credit for the two years he has already been incarcerated. Today we heard there’s rumor of a re-trial.

Yesterday Stephen received an anonymous call on his unpublished cell phone number in which the caller said, “If you can raise five hundred thousand dollars, we’ll release him.” (“Him” meaning James.) That caller never called back.

Today as Stephen was leaving the jail after visiting James, he saw Monica Sanders and her mother Pam Croft arriving at the jail, presumably for a visit with James—the first since about a year ago when she showed up, lawyer in tow, to tell James she was finished with him. Why is she visiting James now? We cannot answer that question because Monica and her mother were denied access since James’ visits for the day had been used up.

Monica, James wanted us to tell you to please stay away.

One possibility may have to do with a damage lawsuit against the city of Memphis in which Monica is a plaintiff. Her case is scheduled to begin on July 12, one day after James’ sentencing hearing. Maybe she needs James’ cooperation in some way so that her chances of cashing in on her lawsuit are enhanced.

Another possibility is that Monica and Jefferson Sanders have figured out that we are developing additional information about Sanders. For example, we have learned that the scope of the abuse James allegedly endured is much broader than we had known until now. When we saw the photographs of Neily Shea’s injuries, we were struck by similarities with injuries James has told us he suffered at Sanders’ hands.

Today Steven looked out his window at the motel and saw Jefferson Sanders stalking him. What is Sanders afraid of?

Maybe Sanders and Monica are aware that events are playing out as if according to some plan Sanders might have devised. We surmise that Sanders was nearby when Neily Shea’s assault happened. According to reports, Sanders arrived at Monica’s apartment 20 minutes after receiving the call that Neily Shea had been hurt. At the time, Sanders was living at least 40 minutes away. Maybe they’re afraid this whole thing will boomerang on them.

I just don’t know.

What I do know is that James is scared and believes his life is over. He’s preparing himself for the worst. Yesterday he was asking Stephen about the abuse Blade Reed has endured in adult prison. “How bad does it hurt to be raped?” he asked.

Stephen’s answer was honest and not exactly reassuring.



Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Doors performing “People Are Strange”


memphis mosquitoes

The powers-that-be in Memphis are striking back. Yesterday someone in Memphis hacked our researcher’s Internet account and temporarily disabled it. And overnight several attempted fraudulent charges showed up on one of my credit cards.

These are only minor inconveniences, and they will not distract us from our defense of James Prindle. Such activity will only create electronic trails which may eventually lead us back to the lawbreaker nuisance-makers. We are intended, no doubt, to occupy ourselves swatting mosquitoes while the real threat is organized beyond our reach.

We’ve been following up on evidence of official corruption in connection with James Prindle’s trial. We’ve contacted the FBI and other federal authorities and have been sharing the information we have developed. The toothpaste is out of the tube.

Yesterday we learned through James that Judge Bobby Carter may be intending to send him directly to an adult prison where his life will be at greatest risk—an unofficial death sentence. He was told that the most likely facility for this purpose is Hardeman County Correctional Center in Whiteville TN, a private prison operated by the Correctional Corporation of America. James’ lawyer Claiborne Ferguson also said Hardeman was a likely landing spot for James. However, when I called Hardeman, public information officer Tasha Mitchell told me they do not accept inmates below 18 years of age. So why James was told this, we do not know. However, it scared the hell out of James and it occupied the better part of Stephen’s day to calm the poor kid.

Is this a diversionary tactic, or is there an element of truth to the story James was told? If not Hardeman, then to what facility will James be sent?

Is it possible that the powers-that-be in this disgraceful tale do not want James Prindle’s appeal to go forward? If the boy is no longer living, goes the reasoning, the appeal would die with him. James’ lawyer Claiborne Ferguson told us that if James is sent to an adult prison, he will likely be dead within a month.

The appeal may die, but our investigations won’t end. Creating a martyr through the sacrifice of an innocent child would only throw fuel on the fire and burn everyone around it. It is in everyone’s self interest that James Prindle’s welfare and safety are guaranteed.

We are prepared to offer the court a solution that will meet its requirements for a secure institution answerable to TDOC and assure James Prindle’s welfare and safety while his appeal goes forward. This is a youth facility with a best-in-class reputation worldwide. Plus, it will cost Tennessee taxpayers not so much as a single dime.

It will, in fact, save taxpayers at least $24,000 a year and maybe even save a few political careers and jail time.

Judge Carter, please contact me.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Powderfinger performing “Save Your Skin”


message for the judge

It was left up to Stephen to break the news to James Prindle last Friday that he had been found guilty.

James had been transported back to the jail and it was apparently not worth the effort for the authorities to make arrangements so he could face his jury and hear their verdict for himself.

After James had a major meltdown at the news, he worked all weekend to memorize a statement he wished to make to the court when the verdict was read to him on Monday. James reasoned that at the very least, standing up and speaking for himself was a way to salvage a scrap of dignity from this travesty. But instead, he was treated like he was some kind of beast.

James was brought into the courtroom in leg shackles and handcuffs, and then he was seated in a chair, his wrists cuffed to the arms of the chair and his feet chained to the floor. He couldn’t stand up; the scene was reminiscent of movies in which a condemned man is strapped into an electric chair, completely immobilized.

“Will I be allowed to speak?” he asked the bailiff Ms. Stone.


“What would happen if I tried?”

“We’d have to put you down,” she said.

So there was no statement from James. He was not allowed to face his jury, and he was not allowed to address the court. Roland Freisler* would have been proud.

We have no way of knowing whether judge and former prosecutor Bobby Carter will ever hear or acknowledge it, but here is the statement James had intended to present:


Judge Carter,

The person who is speaking to you is not guilty. The true individual who committed this unspeakable act against my little sister is walking the streets free and I sit here being punished—possibly for the rest of my life—for an act I did not commit.

I understand the court has an obligation to the public, but its highest duty is for justice. How is it justice when an innocent child is convicted?

I also understand the prosecution has a job to do. But when a person is wrongfully convicted, what good is served to the community when the person who really assaulted my sister is walking the streets in freedom and I suffer with its loss?

My stepfather Jefferson got everything he wanted: me out of his life and he gets my mom all to himself. I’ve been hurt, abused, deserted, and abandoned by my family and it’s hard to accept this, and this verdict, when this is what I’ve lived since I was little.

I would never do what I am accused of doing to my sister. I loved her and I still love and miss my family. I am innocent and I pray that one day soon my innocence will be proved to everyone, most of all, to Jefferson Sanders.


Groove of the Day 

Steve Via – The Audience Is Listening



* Roland Freisler (1893-1945) was the chief judge in Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1945. Approximately 90% of all his proceedings ended with sentences of death or life imprisonment; more than 2,600 death sentences were handed down through Freisler’s court. In October 1939, Freisler introduced the concept of ‘precocious juvenile criminal’ in the “Juvenile Felons Decree”. This decree provided the legal basis for imposing the death penalty and penitentiary terms on juveniles for the first time in German legal history. The Nazi courts sentenced at least 72 German kids to death. It was all perfectly legal.


good-news day

Juvenile life-without-parole: Unconstitutional!

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued an historic ruling in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger convicted of homicide are unconstitutional.

Kuntrell Jackson and Evan Miller, sentenced to life in prison without parole at 14, are now entitled to new sentencing hearings. Today’s 5-4 ruling will affect hundreds of individuals, including Nathan Ybanez, whose sentences did not take their age or other mitigating factors into account.

Read the Justices’ ruling at:

Click to access 10-9646g2i8.pdf

God bless Bryan Stevenson!


Our Newest Cause

The Redemption Project has taken on the cause of Noah Crooks, age 13, of rural Osage IA, who is accused of having murdered his mother Gretchen on March 24, 2012. Gretchen Crooks died of gunshot wounds. He is also accused of assault with the intent to commit sexual abuse. The boy is not culpable in connection with either charge.

Through our efforts, and with the assistance of Noah’s father William, we have convinced William L. Kutmus (reputedly the best defense attorney in Iowa) to take the case. He and his partner Trever T. Hook attended a hearing last week and now have officially replaced a court-appointed lawyer as Noah’s defenders.

The first thing Kutmus and Hook did was to introduce a motion to suppress an involuntary psychological interview conducted by state witness Dr. Michael Taylor, which abridged Noah’s Fifth Amendment rights. Mitchell County Attorney Mark Walk is seeking to have Noah tried in adult court by having his status changed from “juvenile” to “youthful offender.”

The next hearing has been continued to September. The Redemption Project will immediately be creating a web site and trust fund for Noah. Of course I will be keeping you thoroughly informed of the background facts and developments in this very important case.


And some not-so-good news from Memphis

After a whole weekend of thinking and conferring about last week’s trial, we have concluded that it was not a fair one. Even the judge said the state had not met its burden of proof. The only thing last week’s trial proved is that honest justice is hard to come by in Memphis.

This conclusion is reinforced by new information received today that an effort appears to be underway to conceal certain irregularities which compromised the integrity of the trial. The information I am receiving has gotten so weird that we no longer know whom to trust in Memphis.

We are seeing there’s good reason official Memphis does not welcome the participation of outsiders. I imagine they would love for us to leave about now.

But we won’t. At least not until we are confident of James’ safety and welfare. But right now we are seeing enough shenanigans that we are very worried for James.

James’ sentencing hearing has been accelerated to July 11. It appears the powers-that-be are trying to sweep his case under the rug and out of public view as  quickly as possible.

The judge may send James himself far away, and he may take comfort that the appeal will be heard in some distant courtroom, but the politics of this case are going to stay in Memphis where this whole cluster’frig’ was incubated.

We will keep shining light on James’ story and all the people in it. We will bring worldwide attention to James’ situation because that is the best way to assure his safety. We will become a huge pain-in-the-behind to the old boys network.

Memphis, we’re not going away. Get used to it.



Groove of the Day 

Listen to Blood, Sweat & Tears performing “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”


peaceful evening

The phone lines have finally cooled down and I’m enjoying a quiet night at Estrella Vista.

Thanks sincerely for writing a note to the mayor for James.

Things are getting better for all of us.

James too.



Groove of the Day 

Listen to Kate Smith performing “When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain”


what you can do

I am still reeling from the implications of yesterday’s verdict. Yesterday James was despondent. He tried to hurt himself last night and is now under suicide watch. “My life is over,” he said.

By this afternoon his spirits rebounded to the point that I can safely say that if James’ life is to end, it will not be by his own hand.

When he is transferred from the jail to prison, James’ life will be in danger. It is well known that inmates express particular revulsion and violence towards other inmates labeled as sex offenders against children. James is particularly small and vulnerable. He will be at mortal risk.

Yet even if James is placed in a “CMU” or “Close Management Unit” (solitary confinement—for his protection, of course), he will probably be driven to the edge of insanity in the course of time. Studies show solitary will make even a normal person crazy.

There doesn’t seem to be any immediate source of comfort or remedy available to us within the court or correction systems.

Not that people are just idly standing by…

Yesterday just minutes after I learned of the verdict, a former member of James’ family called (she had divorced out of the family and is glad to be free of its dysfunction). She said from her own knowledge of him, that it is not in James’ nature to have committed this crime. She called to see what she can do to help.

First thing this morning, I awoke to a message that we had received a $1,000 donation for James’ appeal. Believe me, this lifted my spirits. I had been thinking all night about the effort involved in raising enough money to mount an appeal. It will be costly. This gift affirmed that it will be accomplished.

Later today a woman also called me asking how she can help. She is the wife of a public official in Memphis and was in the courtroom for part of the trial.

“All my instincts tell me that boy is innocent,” she said. She told me about her interpretation of the 911 call. She said James and Neily Shea could be heard in the background. They were just as loud on the tape as the neighbor who was calling. “I’m a mother and those kids were crying together as James held his sister in his arms. If he had done this to Neily Shea, she would have been fighting him, yelling ‘no’, and pushing him away like she pushed away the nurses at the hospital. She was safe again in James’ arms.”

“You know, people are thoroughly fed up. I have people commenting on the blog who want to burn down the courthouses,” I said.

“They do?” she asked in alarm.

“Figure of speech, of course,” I said. I told her people are losing faith in a system that does this kind of thing to our own kids. I told her that if anything happens to James, it will rain fire on Memphis from all over the world… again, a figure of speech.

I could tell that she believed me. I suspect she felt Memphis would deserve it if it happened.

“All we want is a fair trial where the whole truth is told,” I continued.

“We want the full story of James’ home life known, that it was a classic Cinderella tale in which Jefferson Sanders’ kids got everything shiny and new and James was dressed in rags,” I said. “A woman who called yesterday told me about taking James to church with them, and that he was embarrassed because his shirt had a big hole in it. If he got anything new, Jefferson took it away and destroyed it.”

“We want people on a jury to know that Jefferson Sanders was and is a vicious predator and abuser.” When Monica lost a baby in 2004 Sanders said, “It should have been James.” James has never had unconditional love in his whole life, even from his mother.

“We want a jury to learn about the full extent of abuse and neglect to which James was subjected—not so people will feel sorry for the kid, but so they can see the extent to which he has learned from hardship and benefited from it,” I said.

“We want a jury to hear the full story about the Scheulin brothers and how their history of assaults and sexual abuse made them a perfect team to commit this crime.” I explained that I hadn’t known until Thursday’s testimony by Dr. Lakin that two people had to have committed this crime, not one. So why weren’t the Scheulin brothers required to be in court?! Who is protecting them? Why?

It is almost as if this jury was asked to view James’ world through a pin hole. It wasn’t a fair trial. We have many troubling questions including, “Is it legal for a jury of eleven people to have rendered a verdict?” and “If the judge said the state failed to meet its burden of proof on two counts out of four, why was James convicted on four counts?” One caller who went to lengths to preserve anonymity urged us to investigate alleged jury misconduct.

Quite a few people have contacted me since Friday. And most of them have asked, “What can I do?”

Another caller said she had a lengthy conversation with an aide to the mayor of Shelby County. If there’s nothing the courts and prisons can do to help James now, she said, who knows what could happen for him in the short term if we made Justice for James a political issue?

She urged me to share this link with you so you can tell Mayor Mark Luttrell of Shelby County what you think about what’s happening to James. I think it’s a damned good idea. We need to demonstrate to Mayor Luttrell that the whole world is judging his jurisdiction’s brand of justice.

This is all about politics now.

Here’s the guy to write to:

Steve Shular
Public Affairs Officer
Shelby County Mayor’s Office

[Memo Line: RE: James Paul Prindle – DOB 02/23/1995 – DOCKET 110218010142158 ]

If we can get enough people to write over the weekend, maybe we can get Mayor Luttrell to give Judge Carter a phone call before court convenes again on Monday. Judge Carter, too, needs to be put on notice that the world is watching.

All of us have a choice about whether these next few months will sink us or buoy us, whether James will be seen as a pathetic victim or a young man of courage and strength.

Stand up and speak out. Let Mayor Luttrell know that this is one case that will not be swept under the rug. James is not a throw-away child, no matter what the system does to him. Thousands of people all over the world have taken him into their hearts. Help us send the message that James—and what Memphis does to him—will not be overlooked and will never be forgotten.

Please write now.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to an aria from Puccini’s opera Manon Lescaut, “ Sola, perudta, abbandonata”


(I’ve been listening to this piece off and on all day. It’s calmed me and filled me with hope.)


prindle trial verdict: guilty

The notice of appeal is already filed. We’re not giving up on James Prindle.

Seven hours after the jury began its deliberations, it returned at about 5:30 pm today with a guilty verdict on all four counts except for the first, which was reduced to “Aggravated Sexual Battery.” If the sentences are to run concurrently, we are looking at minimum time to be served of 15 years.

To tell you the truth, I am feeling such profound disappointment that I do not have it in me right now to write. Stephen and I will speak later tonight and I will try to get some details committed to writing for you.

I do promise you that we will not take too much time to lick our wounds. We will pick ourselves up, analyze everything that has transpired, and continue fighting for this boy’s redemption.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Solomon Burke performing “Don’t Give Up on Me”


prindle trial recap: day 3

I have been thinking all day about the drama being played out in Memphis and have been wondering what effect this whole affair is having on the people who are following it.

For me this case has further eroded my expectations for justice in America. It has pushed me into a personal space that so cynical, my first reaction to new and often fragmentary information is to review it for evidence of somebody’s malevolence.

When I received two conflicting stories about the dismissal of a juror—one story by the local Fox affiliate, and one story from Stephen—my first impulse was to assume a false story had been implanted in the local media as way of possibly derailing the legal proceedings. After two years of following James’ case, I have become so conditioned to irregularities in Memphis that it seems like the smartest thing is to expect the worst, no matter how outrageous.

As it turned out, I spoke with reporter Tealy Devereaux (who wrote the Fox story) and she assured me that a Facebook message did play a part in the progression of steps leading to the juror’s dismissal. She saw and heard for herself. Now an anonymous commenter who calls himself “John Doe” has provided a more in-depth explanation in the comments to yesterday’s post.

Both John Doe and Tealy Devereaux have criticized me for having initially labeled the Fox report “fake news.” It was deserved—at least earlier in the day.

If you’d followed yesterday’s post through the whole day, you’d have seen that I adjusted my conclusions about the Facebook story as I received new information. It would have served no honest purpose for me to have defended my initial suspicions; it seems to me that if we are demanding moral integrity from the criminal justice system, we must model higher moral standards in how we advocate for and serve our kids than the System does.

Nevertheless, we do not always accurately perceive the truth of things from the outset. Every case is a new path for us. Stephen called earlier today to give me a heads-up that Bobby Carter’s statement about adding sub-charges is not as bad news as we first thought it to be. He explained this to me more in depth when we spoke tonight.

“They’re not additional charges,” Stephen said. “They’re lesser charges. With the exception of ‘criminal intent to commit rape,’ they’re all misdemeanor charges that would carry a penalty of time served. Judge Carter has told the prosecution and defense that he intends to inform the jury that the state has not met its burden of proof on the two most serious charges. The lesser charges will be offered to the jury so they can decide guilt or innocence on those instead.”

Stephen reported that most of the day was devoted to testimony by Nina Sublett, a sexual assault nurse who examined Neily Shea at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, and her supervisor Karen Lakin MD, the head of the hospital’s child protection unit. Their testimony was graphic and shocking. Sublett said she had never seen a worse case. She told jurors there was a “laceration of her lip that was actively bleeding, large amount of blood in her diaper.” Sublett said, “[The victim] was crying and saying, ‘No, no!’ She was resisting and twisting and trying to turn.” Sublett said the little girl’s injuries were so extensive and there was so much blood, that it “was a difficult exam emotionally.” Stephen said it was difficult simply witnessing the testimony. James often turned away or buried his face in his hands crying.

Twenty minutes into Sublett’s testimony the oldest male juror turned to the judge and requested a break. Seconds after the jury was dismissed to the jury room, one of them started beating on the door. Judge Carter rushed to the back and asked that 911 be called. The male juror was having a diabetic episode, and Judge Carter let him go home. The jury will continue its work with only 11 members.

When court resumed, Sublett continued describing injuries she saw. “Her face was swollen and distorted. I had no idea what hit her in the head.” Sublett said whatever hit her had the little girl bleeding so badly, “I thought she was a red head. I didn’t know she was a blond.”

Dr. Lakin’s testimony yielded two very significant facts.

From the bruises on Neily Shea’s arms and legs, Dr. Lakin concluded that this assault could not have been the work of a single person. At least two perpetrators were involved—a fact that the police apparently missed completely and failed to use to crack open the case.

The second fact was this: the actual assault on Neily Shea could not have happened as depicted in James’ drawing.

At the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, Neily Shea was brought into the courtroom so the jurors could see that the victim of this crime is a real live person… a beautiful little girl.

Then the defense presented its one and only witness: an upstairs neighbor who provided a birds eye account of the large number of kids who were present at the time of the assault and their noisy and argumentative behavior. The neighbor described James standing off by himself, at a remove from the crazy passions of the other kids.

That was it. One witness. James did not testify.

While this defense may have been unsatisfying to the audience in the courtroom, it makes a lot of sense. In a criminal case, the state must prove every element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense needs to prove nothing. Therefore, the primary strategy of the defense is to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and raise reasonable doubt about the defendant’s guilt. However, there is nothing in the law requiring the defense to put on any witnesses, and it is almost always a risky proposition putting the defendant on the stand. The defense is not required to prove anything.

If you, like me, were raised on Perry Mason episodes that always got to the bottom of the characters’ motivations and who really committed the crime, today’s proceedings would have surely disappointed you. Jefferson Sanders was never revealed to the jurors as the sadistic bully he is, nor the kind of person who would lie and create false evidence to frame a child. Noah and Micah Scheulin were never revealed as likely perpetrators of a sexual assault by virtue of their criminal history, their experiences as alleged sex abuse victims, or the fact that they are a team of two who could have committed this heinous act. And Monica Sanders was never revealed as the terrible parent that she is, even though Claiborne Ferguson had fully intended to take her apart on the stand.

The reason Claiborne did not is that James wouldn’t allow it. Despite all the abandonment, abuse, and hurt James has suffered, he preferred to risk being found guilty rather than allowing his lawyer to attack and humiliate his mother.

James still does not understand why his family and Jefferson hate him so much. He is still confused about who could have done this terrible thing to his sister. “I want to know who did this,” he told Stephen.

But what he does know is that he still loves his mom and doesn’t want to see her hurt any more.

Friday morning the prosecution and defense will present their final arguments, and the whole matter will be turned over to the jury, probably by 10:00 am. We are cautiously optimistic. All the guards have been telling James they believe in his innocence and that someone is trying to frame him.

Let us pray that the angels will be with the jurors as they deliberate and that James will be allowed to put his unhappy childhood behind him and make a new life for himself.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to KD Lang with Jane Sibery performing “Calling All Angels”