Thursday, January 8, 2009

Parole Denied

Justice has been served. Munk Caselow Willis was denied parole until 2012. Thank you all for your support. More to follow...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

DOES THIS VIOLENT SEX OFFENDER DESERVE PAROLE?

Recently, my 7 year old son asked me if any of the men that "hurt" me ever said "sorry" for what he had done. For a moment I fell speechless. I knew the time would come when my boys would ask questions about my experience as a victim of crime. The answer, I told my son is "No."

In twenty-two years there has been nothing. Not one letter or note, nor expression of remorse. I realize that none of these guys has "access". But there are official avenues that could be used as the bearer of such an expression on their behalf. Each man has been incarcerated for approximately 8,030 days, or 192,720 hours. This is A LOT of time.

Volumes of journals might have been written during those days, weeks, months, years. He might ponder the impact he has had upon my life. Questioning himself, he might write about how he seeks to live a better life, free from violence and brutality. This opportunity has been there day after day, after day, after day...

I don't know what effect a simple "I am sorry" could have on me. But I think it might speak to a state of mind for that man. Maybe the beginning of acceptance of responsibility, and the potential for changing the fundamental behavior that got him to where he is today.

What would qualify this man for release into society?

Beyond an expression of remorse as a sign of 'change;' there are a multitude of programs and therapies available to inmates in which he might voluntarily participate. I would expect a man, really desiring to better himself, would take advantage of EVERY opportunity available for education, treatment and rehabilitation.

I have heard this man's family members stand before the board and say that he deserves to be released because "He has done his time." First of all, he has served 22yrs of 2 concurrent LIFE sentences. I reject the idea that the passage of time alone qualifies as a reason to release a violent sex predator into society.

If we release this type of offender just because "he has done his time" and NO change has occurred, what might we look forward to in regards to the way he would conduct himself in a community? His history does not suggest that he would be capable of conforming to minimal standards of conduct. He had a long rap sheet as a juvenile offender. This is the only life he knows. He has not created anything beyond this for himself.



Sign Petition To Deny Parole For Munk Willis

SURVIVING VIOLENT CRIME

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Gory Details

An Open Letter to The 2009 Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles:

This letter is to help you understand the impact Munk Caselow Willis' (ais #145097) violent behavior has had on my life. Out of respect for the privacy of my friend, who was also a victim in this case, I will refer to her as Emily.


THE KIDNAPPING
In May of 1986 I was twenty-one years old. I worked full time for a clinical laboratory and was a student at University of Alabama at Birmingham. On the night of May 14, I was at home, caring for a 2-week old kitten whose mother had been run over by a car. I was looking forward to a job interview the next morning for a position as a surgical technician at UAB.

Emily, a new friend from school, was on her way to my house. Early in the evening I answered a knock on my door. There was Emily smiling at me. Immediately 3 men appeared behind her. Pushing her into my apartment, they began screaming and threatening us. They were armed with guns and knives. Ransacking each room of my home; they took my jewelry, our purses and car keys.

Separating us, two of the men took Emily and the third took me. After forcing us into our respective cars, they pulled next to each other on the street. I remember looking through the window and seeing the terror on Emily's face. I remember thinking that I needed to do something to try and help her. This was not a brave or heroic thought. I am sure the fear that showed on my face evoked similar feelings for her.

I was confused and terrified. As the man drove, I starting talking, trying to get information. His constant barrage of verbal attacks paralyzed me. He told me that if I didn't do everything he wanted he would kill me, and Emily. Because my captor kept a gun pointed at me, I never felt as though I had the opportunity to try and get away. I thought of grabbing the steering wheel or opening the car door while we were moving and jumping...but that gun and the fear I felt held me helpless.

We had to stop at a crosswalk in front of the Civic Center. Hundreds of people, leaving a concert, crossed the street. They were all around us, laughing and happy. How could none of them see me? Eventually he pulled into an alley in an unfamiliar area. I kept hoping someone would walk down the street, come out of a house, drive by in a car...how could no one notice that this was happening when my brain was screaming so loudly for help? And Emily, where was Emily?

He took me into a house. I was stunned to see, amidst the littered floor, children's toys and clothes. There were more weapons. Drugs were scattered on a coffee table. He grabbed a shotgun that was leaning against a wall and told me to take off my clothes. I just stood there, in utter fear and shock. Immediately he came across the room screaming at me and put the shotgun to my head. I will spare you the next few hours, but for a few asides.

The other men brought Emily into the house soon after. We were repeatedly raped by all three men. When one of us did not do as we were told, we were beaten and threatened. Eventually, they loaded us into a car and drove to a trash-strewn, water-filled quarry. They told us to get into the water. Swimming away from them as quickly as we could, Emily and I kept talking to each other. Then the gunfire started.

They were shooting at us. (Investigators told us criminals often go to that quarry to sink stolen cars, weapons used in crimes, and other things they never want found. Emily and I were just 'things' that they never wanted found). By the time we were in the middle of the quarry the gunfire had stopped. We stayed in the water for what felt like an eternity, talking about what we should do. We thought the men had driven away. We decided that they had just wanted time to get away. We thought our night of terror was over. We were wrong.

Swimming towards the lights of a distant store took us to the opposite side of the quarry. We started to run towards safety. All three men emerged from the darkness. Chasing us down, they overpowered us again. They had driven to the other side of the quarry with the lights off on the car, and waited for us.

One of them yelled that he was going to get rope. I began to plead with the man who held me. "You don't want to do this, we just want to live. We won't tell anyone, just let us go." The response, as he put the gun against my head, was "I don't care about you, bitch!" and he shot me. Point blank.

I remember being knocked off my feet and landing on my back. There was a roaring noise, like the ocean. I lay very still as the noise and nausea washed over me. Hands grabbed my arms and legs. As they dragged me, something sharp cut into my back and I flinched. "This bitch ain't dead" one of them said. A hand went to my chest, then to my face. I held my breath. "She will be soon" was the answer. Then they dumped me into the water.

A moment later, something huge and heavy landed on me, sending pain through my belly and legs. I must have been laying on some kind of debris in the shallows of the water. I could barely keep my mouth above water, I didn't dare open my eyes.

I was later told, the noise of the gunfire when I was shot startled the man holding Emily. She was able to break free from her captor and get back into the water. Eventually she swam to another end of the quarry, where there was a trucking company. She was chased by guard dogs, but was able to scramble up onto a large truck where a security guard found her. She was transported by ambulance to UAB's emergency room. Out of respect for Emily's privacy, I will not relate to any more of her part of this story. Suffice it to say that her life has been profoundly affected by the actions of all three men that night.


MAKING IT TO THE HOSPITAL

Some time passed before I felt safe enough to open my eyes. The noise in my head was deafening, and the nausea took over as soon as I started to move. I couldn't bring myself to touch my head or face, for fear of what I would feel. Crawling, I was able to climb to the top of a fence and fall over it. Eventually making it up to the highway. Every time I tried to stand, I fell. Hard.

I must have looked like a drunk woman trying to flag down a car. Eventually a man stopped and put me in the back of his truck. I have never learned the identity of this kind soul. He left me at the entrance to a downtown hospital. I was transported by ambulance to UAB's emergency room.

Soon after, my mother arrived to be at my side. She had to go upstairs to the UAB Operating Room suites and speak with the O.R. supervisor, to tell her I would not make my job interview that was to take place in only a few hours. I was being admitted to intensive care as a patient in the same hospital where I had hoped to work.

In the days that followed, before they were arrested, I vividly remember the terror I felt. Those three men were going to find me and finish what they had intended. My bed was in sight of the ICU entrance. Every time a door opened, I knew it would be them. No one was going to be able to stop them. I stared at that door for 4 days and nights, waiting to die.

A nurse was removing debris embedded in my hair and skin when two police officers arrived at my bedside to tell me all three men had been arrested. When they left, the nurse returned with another tub of water. I remember her bathing me and talking softly; and I lay there crying tears of relief because I no longer had to watch the doors. I felt safe again. I finally slept.


ONGOING MEDICAL ISSUES
SURVIVING a gunshot wound is a never ending battle for me. The bullet fragmented on the petrous portion of the right temporal bone. One fragment severed both the auditory and facial nerves on the right side of my face. To others, this the most obvious sign of damage. I have a right facial paralysis. I am deaf in the right ear, as not only the nerve was severed, but the entire inner ear was destroyed. There have been more than 10 surgeries over the years to "patch" the damage.

Though it has been 22 years, I still have chronic infection from several bullet fragments lodged within the bone of my skull, and because of their location, those areas can never heal. Three surgeons have declined to attempt removal of these fragments because of their close proximity to the carotid artery.

I must have frequent checks on those areas of chronic infection. There is constant risk of damage from bacteria that erode bone, which unchecked, could lead to much more serious, even life threatening, problems.

There is more, regarding the physical damage. My medical charts could fill the trunk of a car, but it is too much for my purpose here. I will always require close medical supervision as the physical wounds will never heal.


THE THREE MEN
About the three men. Patrick Earl Thomas (ais #145109) and Munk Caselow Willis (ais #145097) were both seventeen years old when they were arrested. They were on escape status from a Birmingham juvenile detention facility. Joe Brown, Jr(ais#145096) was eighteen.

They were each charged with kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated grand theft,rape and attempted murder. A Grand Jury passed the case forward for trial. Two weeks before trial we were presented a plea bargain. Since their initial arrest, two of the three men had been identified and charged with the rape of a young girl. To spare us (and this girl) the distress of going to trial, it was proposed that all three men plead guilty to lessor charges of rape-I and attempted murder. They did this (knowing what their sentence would be.) They were each sentenced to serve two concurrent life terms, fifteen of those years served before they became eligible for parole.


PLEA TO THE PAROLE BOARD
Many times that night, Munk Willis had the opportunity to stop what he was doing to us. He could have walked away. But he came back again, and again. Munk Willis has never,in twenty-two years, expressed remorse for his actions. He has not completed either a violent offender, or sex offender treatment program. In twenty-two years there has been no effort to change the fundamental behavior or thought processes that led to his violent and deviant behavior. There is no benefit to society in releasing this violent sex offender. Statistics will support that the recidivism rate for the untreated violent offender is high. Statistics show that a sex offender is also a poor candidate for release. Munk Willis is both. Though prison overcrowding is a real problem, there are other non-violent, non-predators that would be better suited for consideration for release into society.

I have slept soundly every night since Munk Willis was arrested. If he were released, I would never sleep again. Imagined, or real, Munk Willis would be waiting in every shadow and dark corner. He would be coming to get me. He would be waiting for my children.

There are many dangers in the world. I can do things to make myself and my family safer, and still function in the world. But If Munk Willis is ever released, then in my world, monsters will come to life and I will never be free.

Please do not release violent sex offender, Munk Caselow Willis.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

PARTICIPATING IN THE PROCESS: APPRECIATING CITIZEN RIGHTS AND RECOGNIZING CIVIC DUTY

When I became a victim of crime at twenty-one, I'd never really thought about my rights as a citizen, much less my duties. I suppose when we are born into freedoms such as we have in this country it is easy to take them for granted. On my journey through the criminal justice system, I started to get it. Though terrified about testifying in court, my attorney and victim service officer spoke about my right to use the criminal justice system, as a way to take my attackers off of the streets. So I participated in the process. I testified, and eventually, all three men plead guilty to rape and attempted murder. They were sentenced to 2 concurrent life terms. Fifteen years had to be served before they would be eligible for parole.

Time passed and my life moved forward. My world expanded in many ways. Friends of mine served in our military, fighting in wars to achieve freedom for oppressed people in other parts of the world. Through these relationships I have come to the realize how fortunate I am to be a citizen of the United States. Women the world over are brutalized every day and have no power to speak about being victims, much less fight back.

Twenty-two years have gone by. Painful as it is to relive the experience, I attend every hearing and protest the parole of the men who tried to kill me.

My participation in the civic process, and speaking publicly about what happened to me, are freedoms preserved for you and me by the men and women that serve in our military. Part of the reason I choose to exercise my rights is as a small gesture of thanks to those who sacrifice their lives for us.

What do you do to exercise your rights as a citizen?

SURVIVING VIOLENT CRIME
PROTEST THE PAROLE OF MUNK CASELOW WILLIS

Monday, October 20, 2008

Protest Parole for Alabama inmate Munk Caselow Willis ais # 145097

Petition Against The Release Of Alabama Inmate Munk Caselow Willis AIS# 145097

As a citizen of the United States of America, I respectfully protest the possibility of parole for one, Munk Caselow Willis ais# 145097; who is incarcerated in the State of Alabama at Easterling Correctional Facility. This inmate has been convicted of the crimes of rape in the first degree and attempted murder and has served only 22 years of two concurrent life sentences.

It is my belief that this violent sex offender will not be capable of conforming to minimal standards of conduct within his community, and in fact poses a grave risk to society. I ask that he not be released from prison, and that he continue to serve the remainder of his original sentence.


SURVIVING VIOLENT CRIME