“Judge, I am beat, I have got to go home and get some sleep…I can’t think anymore.”
So said Florida death row inmate Amos King’s trial attorney, Thomas Cole, during the crucial “penalty phase” of his trail for the murder of Tarpon Springs seamstress Natalie Brady in March of 1977.
It was this disturbing behavior and similar utterances that in 1983 led the U.S. 11th circuit court to vacate the decision of an all white jury– and a concurring white judge– to sentence King to be electrocuted.
Since then the 48 year old Afro-American, who refuses to go quietly into a night of state-sponsored death, has been through the proverbial meat grinder known as the U.S. justice system. King is the Dean of Florida’s death row.
After years of small victories and big losses at the state and federal level Amos King adamantly maintains he’s 100 percent innocent.
(Indeed, see amosking.com for Kings compelling and fascinating rendition explaining exactly how he’s been systematically railroaded by the Florida (in)justice express.)
On the chilly Monday evening of December 2nd –and only 15 minutes before the state of Florida was to inject poison in Kings veins –and following a full day of praying with his Buddhist priest Casey Walpole, Amos King was informed that there would be a halt to the medieval proceedings.
Death for Amos King would wait once more.
To the shock of some and dismay of the family of victim Tilly Brady, and death penalty supporters alike, Governor Jeb Bush announced he was granting King a 30 day stay.
Bush’s stay was granted in order to allow for DNA testing of “recently discovered”, “untested” evidence made at the request of the man the Orlando Sentinel haughtily referred to as that “celebrity attorney,” Barry Scheck.
As in Barry Scheck of the OJ trial and of late the star performer in a most compelling reality criminal justice show called “The Innocence Project.”
No doubt Bush’s stay had as much to do with self image as principle. Florida leads the country in inmates released following DNA testing: 24 and counting.
Just last year Scheck embarrassed Florida when the Innocence Project exonerated Frank Smith in the murder of an 8-year-old girl named Shandra Whitehead. Unfortunately for Smith, he’d recently died of cancer as he awaited his fate on Death Row. Evidence also showed that the state hid other exculpatory evidence for years.
As Paul Roney, the appeals court judge who vacated Kings first sentence noted, “King was convicted on circumstantial evidence.”
It would be another blow against the death penalty and possibly Jet’s political future if King died and was later shown to be innocent.
At the time of Ms. Brady’s murder in July of 1977, King was in a Tarpon Springs work release program, after being found guilty of stealing a gun.
According to prosecutors, a bed check by the facility counselor, one James McDonough, the night of Brady’s murder found King to be absent.
McDonough testified that he discovered King just outside the building wearing pants with fresh blood on the crotch. A fight ensued with King allegedly stabbing McDonough multiple times in the hand.
King maintains that the blood on his pants came as a result of the scuffle with the counselor.
The smoking gun pants were cited but never presented at trial.
The state alleged King had somehow destroyed them.
Missing as well is a blood sample from vaginal washings taken from Brady. The prosecution alleged the blood matched King’s own.
The medical examiner in the case, which no doubt Jeb also took note of, is the disgraced former Pinellas county medical examiner Dr. Joan Wood.
Wood was removed from office for gross negligence and providing faulty and misleading testimony in numerous criminal trials, leading Pinellas state attorney Paul McCabe to say he was willing to “review all questionable cases” in which Wood was involved.
King’s attorney rightly likened Wood to Oklahoma’s notorious medical examiner, Joyce Gilchrist.
Several years ago the FBI alleged in a report that Gilchrist provided at best, misleading–and at worst false–testimony in numerous criminal trials. They recommended that prosecutors review all cases in which Gilchrist played a role. At least three inmates have been released as a result of flaws in Gilchrist’s “work.”
According to King, one of the appeals judges in his case, Susan Shaeffer, who also worked at the time of King’s first trial with his now discredited trial attorney, Tome Cole (and who King alleged conspired with prosecutors), not only refused to recuse herself, but actually yelled at him banshee-like: “Why aren’t you dead yet.”
Schaeffer might want to read King’s web page to at least get an inkling as to why Amos King still breathes.
She’d discover that after every letter explaining, in meticulous detail, how the state of Florida has tried to kill him, Amos King, death row Buddhist, signs out, “Amos King. In Battle.”
Long Live Buddhist Warrior Amos King.
For more on this case check out:
Or write Amos King: Florida State Prison 7819 N.W. 228th st. Raiford Florida 37026-1160 USA
JACK McCARTHY lives in Tallahassee. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org