by Brian A. Wilkins
This is a tie-in to the “55 Days in Maricopa County Jail” blogs.
Here is a progression of how the Tempe Police, State of Arizona and Maricopa County have played this game they so much enjoy.
7/22/08: Tempe Police charge me with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, three (3) counts of disorderly conduct, one count of possession of a firearm during a drug bust. Maximum penalty for all this stuff: 40 years in prison.
7/29/08: State of Arizona “offers” a plea, according to that public defender on the corresponding court date, of 4 months in prison if I plead guilty to everything as charged by cops. Remember, I would have walked free if I had signed this because of T.R. (temporary release; all prison sentences get three months instantly knocked off), time-served, and the 85 percent rule (where you only serve 85 percent of your total sentence).
7/31/08: State of Arizona issues a supervening indictment, dropping the two serious charges (aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during a drug bust), knowing they would never have floated in court. Now the charges are unlawful discharge of firearm, disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Maximum penalty: 5 years in prison.
9/22/08: State of Arizona “offers” a plea deal plea deal: they drop the illegal discharge of firearm and possession of marijuana if I plead guilty to an “UNCLASSIFIED” disorderly conduct charge and “UNCLASSIFIED” possession of drug paraphernalia charge (in other words, no felony charges). State would have recommended probation and community service.
In a matter of two months, in the eyes of Arizona and Maricopa, I went from monstrous felon facing decades in prison to petty offender facing community service? The problem with all this is the fact NOTHING changed in this case after Thursday, July 31; the date of the indictment. Yet the “pleas” went from “sign here for 4 months and being a convicted felon for life” to “sign here for community service and petty crimes?” But again, throughout, the bail amount stayed at $54,000. Regardless, the damage has already been done. As many of you know, I’m no longer employable because the State of Arizona and Maricopa County have listed me as a convicted felon and Arizona media took the lies of Wallace, Johnson, Loewenhagen, and the alleged “victim,” and ran with them. The income I used to make from blogging is now gone; the sponsors I once had (understandably) revoked our contracts, and I lost thousands in the stock market while being held hostage.
In other words, I have absolutely nothing to lose now. While journalism is my passion, I can still do it, but can no longer be paid for it; all my writing and documentary making does for me now is serve as therapy; a sense of normalcy; de-facto prozac. I just happen to be the subject of one of my latest productions, which is kind of weird. An old friend of mine from Cedar Rapids, Iowa wrote the other day, saying because I have no record, etc. that I’d probably get probation or be acquitted of everything based on the evidence. I could have already had probation if I signed that plea. But as I’ve maintained throughout, I will never plead guilty to any crime victimizing that criminal alleged “victim.” I fully expect for the patterns of injustice to continue. I fully expect to be found guilty and sentenced to decades in prison, as facts and obvious malice by Tempe Police have meant nothing throughout. These games have been played with “black” men by the U.S. Justice System since its inception. But again, I take comfort in knowing what will NOT happen when all this is over.