Sunday, December 26, 2010

NO Christmas Turkey!

I have changed the name of my blog so as to be more specific about its contents...and hopefully draw some new people who have been through similar experiences or have witnessed this in some form.  As I've mentioned in previous blogs what happened to me is not unique but happens a lot more often than you would imagine.  Many people just give up and take what the system initially deals them because they feel like it is too big and powerful to fight....those we never hear from unless we're on the "inside" listening.

Today I am going to deviate from my usual discussion and share with you a different story.  We have recently been denied food stamps but still struggle with not enough money, between Ron's disability (going blind) and my forced label of FELON and inability to get work because of it.  My sister and her husband have helped throughout this ordeal and because of them we have been able to pay rent and utilities.  My son, Brandon, works at the best meat market in all of North Texas and his employer has donated food to us, likewise with Ron's brother and the local food pantries.  Others have helped us in big ways too....please don't misunderstand... this is NOT a call for help....but I had to set-up the story I'm about to tell you!

Christmas morning, Brandon, my budding chef (18 years old and studying at the local community college to be a chef) jumped out of bed, ran to the kitchen and decided to make a chuck roast (donated by his boss) for Christmas.  Now who would have thought to have that for Christmas?  Not I!!  He worked hard at browning and seasoning that roast to perfection, then added water and cooked it very slowly.  He allowed me to wash and cut the veggies (a clerical job saved for underlings) and he then continued to monitor the roast for another 3 hours.  In the meantime, he decided we needed to start cooking the stuffed chicken that Ron's brother brought us the day before.  That chicken came from wonderful Whole Foods and was stuffed with everything healthy and tasty...spinach, garlic, pine nuts and feta cheese...WOOEEEE!! 

I think you've got the picture now...we had a feast like none other!!  A Christmas to remember!  The biggest celebration for a mom returned home from prison...ALL of it just brought tears to my eyes.  I am so grateful to be back with my family.  We had the best Christmas ever with less money than we've ever had.  What a blessing.  God is so good.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


My Dear Friends,

I have shared with you my past three Christmases, it seems only right to share with you this Christmas.  I am so grateful to be home with family, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  This experience over the past seven years has changed my perspective a bit.  My thoughts wonder to the people in prison, men and women, trying to make the most of a difficult situation.  Well, you may say, but they deserve what they have.  Not all of them and really nobody deserves to be treated like an animal, or in many cases worse than an animal.  Our justice system has proven to me that it is a very inaccurate and ineffective tool for controlling society.

On the other hand I remember while at Lew Sterrett (the Dallas County jail) where I stayed for 19 months following the trial there were many homeless people who got themselves arrested around Thanksgiving and hoped to stay through the cold months saying how grateful they were for a warm place to stay, a bed, three meals, TV and some antibiotics.  So in that respect the county jail acts like a homeless shelter.  Since I was there for two holiday seasons I sure enough saw some of the same faces coming through the second or even third time.  It works...the County gets paid to house these so-called criminals.  I wondered many times if taxpayers have any idea what their tax dollars are paying for and how inefficiently it is spent.  Is it all taxpayers' responsibility to support the homeless anyway or is it for each person to decide whether (or not) to attend to society's little (getting bigger) problem through charitable contributions?  Does anybody have any idea the payroll cost associated with these institutions?  Is the growth created by the need to fund the big-business prison and jail systems, a definite growth industry, or is it created by more people becoming criminal , or more people becoming homeless?  Something to think about.

During the four years coming up to the trial there was a short time where we had to live at a homeless shelter, one that was set up as "transitional living".  The costs of legal fees, having to support a family when I could no longer find a job as a result of the false allegations and spending many days, nights and weeks at Children's Hospital with my special needs son, Nate, left me with no alternative but to live at the shelter. Once Nate's health stabilized and through a friend I interviewed with a business owner who was willing to hire me, I was able to earn enough money to move out after about eight months.  The shelter was nothing like I imagined.  I found many wonderful people among the residents, many with unusual and difficult circumstances.  The unusual became the norm.  We were supportive of one another and in spite of the voluminous rules (very much like prison - only with family together) we were able to celebrate holidays and good fortune in finding employment and places to live outside the shelter.

Yesterday I visited this shelter for a few minutes.  I was in the front lobby when a couple came in with some charitable contributions in the form of food.  Upon leaving, the woman was explaining how some of the food was for the "normal" people referring to the staff and the other food was for the "others".  Hmmm, I thought what exactly is normal?  I am sitting here today thinking I used to be like that woman, the one who looked down and pitied the "others".  I'll be honest I did!!  I've had some real eye-opening and humbling experiences...and come to know we are all just people....with similar wants and needs.  BUT...just people!!  I remember while in prison several friends didn't know what to say to me so they did not write or wrote with such caution.  All along I was just the same person, with all the same interests wanting to just share our lives, wherever each of us were at the time. 

I am hopeful that I remember these valuable lessons for the rest of my life and always know that others are, in fact, EQUAL.  No "one-up" and no "one-down" conversations or thoughts.  How useful is this attitude in all of our interactions with our loved ones, friends, business associates, neighbors and really all those around the world.  No need to judge, just love, just care, just be a part of humanity with our many human conditions.  Now there is a Merry Christmas thought I can live with.  Let's celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and all that His life taught us.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!   Here are pictures of Nate (19) playing Santa Clause and Brandon (18) always the best dressed.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


My favorite time of the year has always been Thanksgiving to me its some of the best family time.  During the almost three years I was incarcerated I went through three Christmas seasons, each year I was bound and determined to send a Christmas letter, as was my way in the free world.  So I made up a letter and hand wrote it about 20 times....then sent it to my friends and family that were writing me while I was locked up.  The first couple years I decorated the ruled notebook paper it was written on with little paintings of holly and candles.  We were not allowed colored pens or markers so using water I melted the color off of candies such as Skittles, M&M's and Fireballs, then used a toothbrush and the tip of pens as a paint brush.  It was fun, and kept my mood festive while I did my big project.

I want to share with you the three letters I wrote, you will see my journey and my determination to stay positive and keep my chin up:

CHRISTMAS 2007 (my trial was in September of 2007):
Dear Family & Friends,
     As I reflect on the past year, what I see is there is nothing more important than God, family, friends and the memories we create for ourselves and loved ones through our relationships.  Certainly my own experiences over the year have brought me to question my faith, the validity of an archaic justice system (one driven by money and power) and the ability to trust my fellow human beings.  Ultimately, it is my faith that allows me to move on and to believe that God, and only God, can cause my false accusers to come to justice, and for me to understand it may not happen in my time or even become a part of my knowledge.
     I am so proud of Nathan and Brandon [my two sons].  In their own ways, each of them stood up for me and their beliefs in what was right during the days of my trial and sentencing.  The Judge admonished me "on record" for dragging them into the process.  [Actually I did NOT want to but my attorney insisted.]  Once I finally had time to reflect following the trial and consider what the judge said I realized that their involvement could actually prove to be a milestone in their lives.  Learning to speak up and in Nate's case to show up, to be there for a loved one and to stand up for what is right even in the face of an unfair system are all tremendous lessons.  Likewise, Ron [my husband] and his constant love and dedication has kept the boys and I going under these difficult circumstances.  There are always blessings hidden in the worst of times, available for the plucking if we choose.
     Living in gratitude changes our experiences in life and polishes our own humanity, the very core of our being.  Nobody can take that away from any of us.
     Years ago I heard told a story....and included it in some of my public speaking from time to time.  I want to share it again here.  There was a small poem found carved in a rock in Europe following World War II.  It goes like this:

           I believe in the sun.....
               even when it does not shine.
          I believe in love.....
               even when I do not feel it.
          I believe in God.....
               even when I do not see Him.

     Powerful words to live by. Beliefs are everything.  They truly mold our existence.  Have a great holiday season and best wishes in the New Year.  
                                                With Love,  Audrey

Dear Friends and Family,
     Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!  As I strive to understand what has transpired in my life over the past five years I am encouraged by my favorite Bible verse:

          1 Corinthians 13:13  Three things will last forever
               faith, hope and love
               and the greatest of these is love.

     Thank you for being in my life.
                                    With Love,  Audrey

Dear Friends & Family,
     Welcome to my world.  Just for one minute of your Christmas season.  The world inside - not the free world as you know it.  But, a world defined by locks, bars, heavy metal doors, counts every couple hours, rules and regulations for every breath taken.  Nothing private, no ownership, permission required for every step of the way.  Women grieving - loss of their life, loss of what they once dreamed their life could be, loss of their children, loss of their husband or boyfriend, family as we know it.
     But in the midst of tears, the haze from psych drugs so freely given and the paralyzing fear of authority gone out of control....there is a reaching out for some human comfort, some connect to another person, something greater than each one by ourselves.  Thus creating a giant dysfunctional family - nonetheless - some similance of a family.  We decorate our doors and walls of the day room for the holiday season....knowing there will be no material gifts, no happy children dancing under the tree, no Christmas parties, no Christmas lights, no Christmas candles, no Christmas shopping.
     We attend as many services and Bible studies as we can, hoping for acceptance from an outside volunteer and praying for God to hear our cries for freedom.  And, if not freedom - then, at least, the safety and health of our loved ones - never forgotten - always held close to our hearts, even as we sit here in our invisible world being invisible people to society.
     Those in charge cannot strip us of our souls, our spiritual matter how many humiliating strip searches they do.  They cannot shatter our matter how much they bully us or lie about us.  Ultimately we find we are in charge of our own happiness, our attitudes, our own well-being as we forge through a system that does not want rehabilitation but depends on recidivism for the funding of their paychecks and the maintenance and growth of their fortresses.
     It is God, the reading of His word and speaking to Him daily through prayers which insures our sanity.  And when one of us goes astray through depression or anger, the others pull that person back in and together we walk down the long, empty, cold hallways to the next service or Bible class...and we learn...therein lies the greatest gift of all...the gift of everlasting life....John 3:16.
     Merry Christmas & Best wishes in the New Year...from inside....
                                     Love,  Audrey

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I had been incarcerated about a year following my trial when one Sunday morning I woke up with HOPE on my mind and knew I had to write.  We always had breakfast about 4a.m.  Once everybody ate they all went back to sleep as was the routine on Sunday mornings.  So I sat down by myself on that peaceful morning and wrote the following in about 5 minutes and smiled the rest of the day.

People seem amazed saying I never stop, I never give up, even after 5 long years of this struggle [4 years prior to the trial and 1 year incarcerated].  The truth is hope never gave up on me!  I wasn't able to stop it even when I tried (and I did!):
  • I could stomp on it.
  • I could spit on it.
  • I could call it "false".
  • I could even fool myself, for a moment, into believing I could turn my back and walk away from it.
But, I finally reached the conclusion, so long as one chooses life, there is hope.  Hope is part of the human spirit, the underlying belly of faith, a driving force in our existence:
  • Hope is persistent.
  • Hope is audacious.
  • Hope is fathomless.
  • Hope has no bounds.
  • Hope soars in the face of potential destruction.
When I set aside anger, sadness, resentment and have exhausted the victim script...there remains HOPE, as solid as the earth and as ethereal as God Himself.

To this day I refer back to this when I get to thinking this will never end.  I also have to remind myself all things have beginnings and endings.


As most of you know I have a love for math, that has existed as far back as I can remember.  My tendency is to think in math concepts and terminology.  So for you that see math as painful...I want you to give this blog a chance...I think you will find it interesting how I move from math to real life situations in this predominant left brain of mine.  As you know by now...I am sharing with you some of my writings while incarcerated as well as some of the details of my case.  All of that is present in this blog.  When I am especially under stress I turn to my mathematical mind to try and make sense and order out of the details.  Following is another of my book excepts, written while in Dallas County Jail, following my trial:

Life is full of variables, a set of multiple equations, some things known and some things unknown.  Multiple equations, multiple variables within the equations, most times needing to be solved simultaneously.  That is how I would define the case against me.

If you think back to math class when you are first learning to solve for 'x'. you have one variable and life at that time can be that simple.  So many decisions are already made for you in those early years.  As a child, quite often, all that you have to decide is how you attend what is placed in front of you.  What value will you assign to 'x', with 'x' representing attitude?  Will you decide to respond with a positive attitude or will you meet the stimulus with confusion, rebellion or indifference?

Each of us, as a child and as maturing adults will forever effect the paths we follow, through our decisions.  Our beliefs form our thoughts and decisions.  Our decisions set our actions.  Our actions develop our patterns and habits.  Through this we cultivate our character and that leads each of us to where we are today and where we are heading.  We need to embrace this process and own it.  Taking ownership at each step of the way will allow us to see all opportunities presented.  The outcome is only limited to the blinders we each choose.  Therefore, it is necessary to take off the blinders (i.e. fear, rebellion, anger....) and set healthy boundaries so that we might move forward to the unknown in the best way.  It is not over until we are finished.  We make our choices which are allowed through our God given free will.

With that said, I sit in Dallas County jail knowing that it is not over!  So long as I am breathing, my heart is pumping and my brain waves are active, I have the opportunity and the mental and emotional wherewithal to solve the simultaneous equations, solve for the variables that will set me free.

Some of the verifiable knowns in the equations of my case are:
  1. false depositions by complainants
  2. false testimonies by state witnesses, including DPD detective
  3. withheld exculpatory evidence
  4. insurance fraud by false accusers
  5. contrived confession and forgery by false accusers, supposedly non-forensic testable
  6. divorce fraud by false accusers
  7. underlying politics/politicians cover up
  8. violation of civil rights, including lack of competent defense
  9. corrupt state justice system, not interested in truth, focused on conviction only
Whereas some of the variables are:
  1. Will all things necessary to reveal the truth be presented in the habeas application?
  2. How will my past trial attorney respond to allegations in the habeas?
  3. Integrity of state justice system NOW (first filed with court who tried me)?
  4. Will the habeas process and truth be honored by the state appeals court?
  5. If not, will there be integrity in the Federal justice system?
  6. If not, will the Supreme Court prove to be just?
Where is my freedom?  The answer lies in this complex set of equations, constantly evolving, plus the ability to sort out the truly relevant from the extraneous.  One has to believe that good will prevail and that the justice system actually does work at some level in order to continue.  It all starts with belief.

I was meeting with my habeas attorney this past Friday and telling him that I no longer believe in the justice system.  He so astutely pointed out that was not true, because I would not be sitting across from him, working hard on the habeas if I believed that.  So often we need someone to point out the obvious.  So as much as I like Forest Gump ("life is like a box of never know what you are going to get"), I choose to believe life is a set of equations, for which we definitely have input.  What set of equations do you have to solve for?

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I was in Dallas County Jail (Lew Sterrett) for 19 months following my trial, during the initial stages of my appeal.  Once I settled in I started writing book excepts.  Following is one:

The slamming of the heavy steel doors convulse with such finality.  I am surrounded by ugly, drab grays and beiges that speak no words of comfort.  I have no choice but to touch the ice cold barren steel of the tables, seats, sinks, showers, toilets, "beds", walls and bars.  All of them closing in on me as my heart shutters and my skin crawls and itches.  There is the constant clanging of the keys against one another and against the doors, sounding like fingernails on a blackboard.  I hear chains being dragged, scraping across the cement floors but can't glimpse the living corpse they are attached to...only pictures in my starving mind.  I smell stark disinfectants trying to cover the foul odors of those detoxing as they expel the rancid chemicals they have ingested while on the streets of the free world.

There always seems to be at least one woman wailing; for their soul hurts unbearably.  I join them sometimes, but only in my mind, so as not to show vulnerability and weakness.  I see the constant artificial light pressing in on my eyes.  Even when I try to sleep its vibrating fluorescence pierces my closed eyelids.  I dream of an invisible protective film forming, leaving a heavy thickness, covering the windows of my soul.

We argue among each other for toilet paper - the measure of gold in here.  The guards tell us there is a shortage and sometimes leave us with none.  They tell us this is due to budget cuts, as they shrug their shoulders and walk away with a smirk on their faces.

Over the intercom system I hear the blaring of names and numbers for women going home or on to the next place in the system.  I keep waiting to hear my own name, even imagine it sometimes, but it never comes as I remain a prisoner.

I found ways to survive.  In the beginning I was mad at God for allowing this.  I'd pray to Him about my anger and tell Him I was no good as a vessel to Him.  I turned to reading books, reading about a book a day.  I'll have to admit it took me two days to read Rhett Butler 's People by McCaig.  In almost three years I read over 1,000 books.  I wrote in the quiet times while everybody else was sleeping and I would play an occasional game of Spades or Canasta while at Dallas County.  Cards were not allowed at the next stop.

I came to realize I was getting an opportunity to see if I really believed what I had been teaching my son with autism.  Before the trial I had worked many hours, weeks, months and years to convince my son, Nate, that our world was a good place and gave him compelling reasons to join us in our world.  I showed him that happiness was a choice and could be attained anywhere under any circumstance.  Now the universe was testing me.  I would survive, with my sanity, choosing happiness and maintaining a positive attitude....but it took me some time to get there.  I would not play victim to the men who falsely accused me.

Friday, November 26, 2010


For three years I was locked up following my trial.  Falsely accused and wrongly convicted didn't matter inside.  I was accepted in just like everybody else for we all had the same problem....the system.  And I came to find others like me.  The same ole dance...those with money and power prevail in the justice system.  A system that was originally set up as "truth and justice" is far from that.  Quite often the guilty are set free because of technicalities and the innocent haven't a chance.  There is a joke among Dallas prosecutors I am told..."It's much easier to get a conviction for a guilty person than an innocent person."  So, they have to work a little harder, but the challenge is there and their quotas are met.  Why do you think Craig Watkins, while running for reelection as Dallas County DA, could brag about a 99.4% conviction rate?  They are absolutely motivated to put everybody away....that's politics for you.  Pray that you are never falsely accused, I guarantee you it took me by surprise.  I have learned from are a few of my learnings:
  • Document everything in every possible way.
  • Surround yourself with trustworthy witnesses (those without a price).
  • The people incarcerated are just ordinary people (for the most part).
  • Faith is the only thing that will get you through with a semblance of sanity.
  • Family and true friends are always there.
  • We absolutely are not islands but need people in our lives.
  • God does work through others.
  • God keeps his promises, even now, even though we are dirt poor, we have everything we need.
  • Everything happens in God's time, not according to my schedule.
  • Under every stone is a treasure.
Leave no stone, understanding and love are all there if you are willing see them, receive them and cherish them.  I do know there is justice but not always on earth.  I trust that God's plan will prevail and that it will be for the greater good of all.  I do not know how that looks in my life but I am trusting that my family and I will be okay and safe.  Three years seemed like forever on the "inside" but now there is such a healing that has occurred being with my loved ones again....almost as if no time passed.  Remember, no stone unturned...look for the beauty and wonder in everything.  Live fully in the present for tomorrow (on earth) is promised to no one.

In my appeal/habeas corpus...absolutely no stone will be unturned.  The answers will come.  For the remainder of my life I will live in gratitude for each moment.  Each moment absolutely is a gift.  Sometimes it takes a real shake-up in a person's life to get those old priorities right.  Let that lesson be easier for you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Because of unusual circumstances I have been away from my loved ones for the past three years...but we are together again.  I am grateful beyond words.  I have come to treasure each moment, even the tough ones.  I have seen things I never wanted to but believe I am a better person for all the experiences I have been afforded.  In wanting to understand the passage in Romans 8:28 "And we know God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose"...I am believing that even the past three years were not a waste but give rise to a powerful opportunity both in sharing my experiences and in facilitating change in a system that has exceeded it's boundaries.  How I go about all that is yet to be seen.  I pray for guidance daily.  It can be no other way.

For now I am wishing each of you the best Thanksgiving holiday and family time together.  Wrap your arms around each moment, make the most of it, let everybody know you love them and how that looks.  For one thing I am certain, there is nothing more important than love.

Loving each of you.....