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Old 02-01-2020, 08:17 PM
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Default The Forks In The Road

My grandmother on my momís side said of my older sibling (Vernon) on more than occasion that before he was born around the 6 month of my motherís term with him prior to birth she (my grandmother) went to California to visit where my parents were staying at the time (Oceanside). When Mom answered the door upon my grandmotherís arrival, my grandmother said that Mom had a black eye. My father had struck her. As fate would have it that would be a premonition of sorts for my older brother, 7 years my senior and the road ahead he would travel. At the age of 66, he has spent over 42 years of his life in prison. Heís been up for a parole a total of 15 times and most recently in December received another 3 year denial.
He went to prison the first time here in Texas back in 1976 for accessory to robber. He did a couple of years, got out, went to California and committed this offense (2nd degree murder) of which he received a 17-LIFE sentence. Heís currently housed at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.
Thereís a lot of difference between being a tag along in a robbery at the age of 21 like the one he was a part of in San Antonio and committing the murder he did 1982 up around the Russian River in northern California. I look back at Vernon as a person in the psychological sense and the guy who got in trouble in San Antonio in the mid-1970s was not capable of pistol whipping someone and then, shooting them in the back of the head face down. He took the body of the victim and buried him. It would be 2 years before he was caught for the murder in 1984 and no doubt, the time inside has changed him. Heís bitter which is understandable and where hope is concerned, that is a word that means much to some people, but it has a very dim light about it just now.
If you live long enough, itís apparent that life involves a certain number of forks in the road where the choices we make are concerned. Sometimes, we donít know the effects of a bad decision even after weíve moved on and left it behind. I look at the 6 years of Vernonís life before he committed this crime and itís sad to say, but something was going to happen for the worse. Those 6 years left a mark on him that are horrific in a life changing way.
The prison system here in Texas during the mid-1970s was brutal. Violence, murder, sexual assault and hard time were the norms of the then Texas Dept Of Corrections. With time, a lot of that would change due the class action lawsuit filed by a man named David Ruiz. Things would change in time, but at that time, the life that men and women knew were full of people like building tenders, turn keys, long days in the fields chopping down trees, picking cotton and tending to crop rows. It was a sadistic era. Iíve spent 18 years in prison here in Texas, myself. When I entered the system for the first time in 1990, much had changed though along with the name which is now the Texas Dept Of Criminal Justice.
He was exposed to abuses that are degrading and while I donít know to what to what degree he suffered, I know that it left a mark on him. To be young, to be Caucasian, and to be average in size or smaller in a place filled with predators and prey, itís safe to say that a person could leave prison less the man than they were before they went there because of what they suffered or were forced to bear. Prison changed him and it did so in a way that it has no right to do. No one should be forced to endure that type of hardship. No One.
The summer after he was released from prison here in Texas he met up with one of his former cell mates down in Austin. It was at this time that yet another fork in the road would come alongÖ..he was introduced to the needle and the spoon for the first time and a drug called methamphetamine. Thereís been a lot music written with lyrics to do with the needle and the spoon, the needle and the damage done and some others I canít think of just now, but truthfully, itís a tragic, life changing experience that is beyond words. The day you stick a needle in your arm, itís a day of great change in your life and theyíre hard changes. His life changed yet in another way after the horrific experience in prison. He was introduced to this thing called addiction and to stop and think that it came about with someone thought of as a friend.
A year or so later, Vernon would suffer a 3rd life changing fork in the road. After meeting a female companion in a topless establishment and then the both of them going to a motel and renting a room, the womanís husband/boyfriend showed up with 2 other people. They kicked in the door of the room and proceeded to pistol whip him so badly, his right eye was completely destroyed. A few months later he left the state of Texas and went to the Redwoods of northern California around the Russian river.
That was sometime in 1980 when he moved to Cali. Roughly 2 years later, he and some of the crowd he hung with bought an 1/8 oz of methamphetamine from someone that made it a habit of selling bunk dope to people with a ďmake something of it if you dareĒ sentiment. Someone did make some of it and that would be my older sibling. To make matters worse, the dealer was also a federal witness. Some 36 years later, my older brother sits in prison over killing someone for something that was worth no more than $200 at the time. When you consider what was lost or what was at stake ($200 meth), to make a severe effort to end someoneís life in such a grim way is the final analysis of those that would protest his parole, those that would deny him parole and those that would deem him unfit to be released back into society. And yetÖÖÖÖ.thereís so much more to it, isnít there. The 6 years prior to this offense (murder) were almost a setup of sorts. It was a design for failure in the early going that no one could have foreseen or foretold. Sadly, you live and die by the decisions you make when they are the wrong ones.
Thereís something to be said for the fact that we need each other in this life. People need each other, but they need other a certain way and for the sake of a better life. I am my brotherís keeper and yet itís a sad relationship we have. Pray for him.
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Old 02-01-2020, 09:30 PM
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I'm afraid that your brothers story is a very heart wrenching one. And he seems as though he's all but given upon life. I'm not sure how he spends his time and waking hours on the inside but if he had some sort of faith or belief in something or someone then maybe his hope would be renewed. Would you organizing some sort of a penpal for him with the opposite sex do? Something to take his mind off of his current condition and something to keep his mind active and to fill his heart with joy/love even if it's for a little while. Just to get him out of his imposed rut. Would that help him any? I don't know.
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:27 AM
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I'm afraid that your brothers story is a very heart wrenching one. And he seems as though he's all but given upon life. I'm not sure how he spends his time and waking hours on the inside but if he had some sort of faith or belief in something or someone then maybe his hope would be renewed. Would you organizing some sort of a penpal for him with the opposite sex do? Something to take his mind off of his current condition and something to keep his mind active and to fill his heart with joy/love even if it's for a little while. Just to get him out of his imposed rut. Would that help him any? I don't know.
He has members here on PTO that reach out to him and so, it's not for the lack of help or concern on the part of others out here that make the situation what it is. It's not that.
He's been gone a long time and I think it's sad that in terms of a life time, to see or recognize from the very beginning that someone's life is and has been forever a struggle is a sad thing to behold. It's one thing to say of a person "the choices you made are the reason why your life has become what it is." It's another thing to look at someone and know that many of the hardships experienced are to do with the reality that we're all born into a world we didn't make. He never really had a chance from the very beginning. There were times when the opportunity to do the right thing was there, but so many things were already set in motion in childhood and puberty/adolescence that are grim where he is concerned which paved the way for a life bent on self destruction.
Truthfully, among many of us that have been to prison, how we started out in life and what followed at those forks in the road tell the tale of our lives and the why of it. For Vernon, he's not the only person to have walked the path that he so chose to travel. He is not alone, but the never ending sadness and the difficulty to endure a life time spent this way.....that's the part hard to look at. It's even more difficult to know that not much can be done to really help him the way that he needs to be helped. What he did was such a long time ago and when it comes to drama brought about with anything to do with drugs, it's a just a given fact that something in terms of the consequences will be all that's left to be said of the matter.
All in all, life is short and it's hard to look at someone this close to you who is a sibling and know that in terms of their life, it's was over before ever really got started. He was brutalized as a boy growing up and that within itself is something that can lead a person down the wrong avenue when it comes to the people, places and things we encounter in life.
Another experience about him that the weighs heavy on the heart, he joined the Marine Corps when the Mai Lai Massacre of 1968 was one of the focal points of the protest against the Vietnam War. He was only 17 when he went into the military in 1970. He was also one of the members of the armed forces that other people at the beaches of places like Oceanside and southern Cali would spit on and speak/curse badly to as a slam on those that served in the military. I can still remember him commenting about this on more than one occasion and how difficult it was for a 17-18 kid to take on something like and over come it. He joined the service at perhaps the most anti American time among Americans that I can ever recall. He was also a victim of the abuse that ensued when desegregation in the school system here in the Dallas/Ft Worth area that came about. He experienced a lot of trauma/conflict brought about by racial tension. Here again, he was kid when that came about at the age of 15-16.
And you realize with time as you grow older, a person can only be faced with so much and particularly in childhood or even young adulthood if they're to be able to realistically over come their problems in life. If you throw too much at someone too soon, they may never recover from it.
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Old 02-02-2020, 12:33 PM
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I can't say much more than you've said, Firebrand, but I can add this:
You and your brother are now a permanent part of my life and I don't regret that for a minute. Not that prison or the experience has many of them, I would still call this a silver lining.
Born, I don't believe Vernon has given up on life. If anything he's still very much aware that there is a different life happening somewhere else and he's interested in it. He maintains a connection with it and shares his feelings about his circumstances freely. If we never see Vern on this side the gate, I can say that it wasn't because he gave up in his heart but rather that the path to it was fraught with misinformation and longer than he could make.
He's got a heart. He's learned to protect it well. I give him a lot of credit for that. He's also angry and I can't knock him for that. Life and Vernon seem to be in a perpetual push-pull. He's got some responsibility in that and I think he knows it.
Marty, you love Vernon and I know he knows that. I also know that he loves you, too. Not news: you're both fiery and unfortunately very susceptible to the other's version of flame. I think you've got some guilt around him and I hope that one day that is settled for you. Even in one of his most spirited rants, he would never want you to carry that cross for him.

Last edited by miamac; 02-03-2020 at 11:23 AM..
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Old 02-02-2020, 04:15 PM
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I can't say much more than you've said, Firebrand, but I can add this:
You and your brother are now a permanent part of my life and I don't regret that for a minute. Not that prison or the experience has many of them, I would still call this a silver lining.
Born, I don't believe Vernon has given up on life. If anything he's still very much aware that there is a different life happening somewhere else and he's interested in it. He maintains a connection with it and shares his feelings about his circumstances freely. If we never see Vern on this side the gate, I can say that it wasn't because he gave up in his heart but rather that the path to it was fraught with misinformation and longer than he could make.
He's got a heart. He's learned to protect it well. I give him a lot of credit for that. He's also angry and I can't knock him for that. Life and Vernon seem to be in a perpetual push-pull. He's got some responsibility in that and I think he knows it.
Marty, you love Vernon and I know he knows that. I also know that he loves you, too. Not news: you're both fiery and unfortunately very susceptible to the other's version of flame. I think you've got some guilty around him and I hope that one day that is settled for you. Even in one of his most spirited rants, he would never want you to carry that cross for him.
You're a sweetheart miamac.
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Old 02-02-2020, 06:07 PM
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I'm so sorry for what your brother has endured. Yes, in retrospect we all come to forks in the road. Why one goes one way and the other goes the other way sometimes seems random and at other times seems predestined.
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Old 02-02-2020, 07:38 PM
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I'm so sorry for what your brother has endured. Yes, in retrospect we all come to forks in the road. Why one goes one way and the other goes the other way sometimes seems random and at other times seems predestined.
After he committed this offense he's in prison for, a period of 1 1/2 years or so went by before he was caught and I often look back at that time and recall bits of what he was going through. No one in terms of a family member back home here in Texas knew of what had taken place. It wasn't until his conviction that it really hit home with me and our parents that he had gotten into something that there was no turning back from. Still, I can remember little things that stood out. There was a group called Golden Earring back in the 70s and early 80s that had a hit called the Twilight Zone which brings to mind how when that song would come on the radio, Vernon would go through this change or this mood swing that was intense and in a strange way it's almost as if the song were literally about what had happened concerning the murder he committed. In the end, I think he went back to California because that's the only thing he could do. He spent much of his time here in Texas after the incident took place in the summer of 1982 and I've wondered why he went back there with so much at stake. He went back there to face what he had done. I don't know that anyone other than myself looks at it that way, but there was no running away from it. Too many people had been a part of what took place and it was really just a matter of time before all was told.
For me personally, all this was secondary to the fact that one day he would hopefully get out, but now all these years later it's a less than hopeful situation. By the time he comes up for review again he will be close to 70 years of age. When I look at the opposition he faces where parole is concerned, I see something that is hard to define or put into words. How can you condemn a man to life in prison after a lifetime of hardships that paved the way for him to follow? He didn't kill a nun or really and truly an innocent bystander, he killed someone that made it a habit of burning his customers to do with illegal drugs. And.....I'm sure his op-posers have plenty to retort with, but.......he's not your brother and if he were, I find it hard to believe that you wouldn't feel the same way I do concerning the matter.
For those of us that have loved ones faced with prison terms/realities of this extreme its hard to stay positive over the long haul on many days. It's a restless time for me and no doubt for him.
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:11 PM
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He has members here on PTO that reach out to him and so, it's not for the lack of help or concern on the part of others out here that make the situation what it is. It's not that.
He's been gone a long time and I think it's sad that in terms of a life time, to see or recognize from the very beginning that someone's life is and has been forever a struggle is a sad thing to behold. It's one thing to say of a person "the choices you made are the reason why your life has become what it is." It's another thing to look at someone and know that many of the hardships experienced are to do with the reality that we're all born into a world we didn't make. He never really had a chance from the very beginning. There were times when the opportunity to do the right thing was there, but so many things were already set in motion in childhood and puberty/adolescence that are grim where he is concerned which paved the way for a life bent on self destruction.
Truthfully, among many of us that have been to prison, how we started out in life and what followed at those forks in the road tell the tale of our lives and the why of it. For Vernon, he's not the only person to have walked the path that he so chose to travel. He is not alone, but the never ending sadness and the difficulty to endure a life time spent this way.....that's the part hard to look at. It's even more difficult to know that not much can be done to really help him the way that he needs to be helped. What he did was such a long time ago and when it comes to drama brought about with anything to do with drugs, it's a just a given fact that something in terms of the consequences will be all that's left to be said of the matter.
All in all, life is short and it's hard to look at someone this close to you who is a sibling and know that in terms of their life, it's was over before ever really got started. He was brutalized as a boy growing up and that within itself is something that can lead a person down the wrong avenue when it comes to the people, places and things we encounter in life.
Another experience about him that the weighs heavy on the heart, he joined the Marine Corps when the Mai Lai Massacre of 1968 was one of the focal points of the protest against the Vietnam War. He was only 17 when he went into the military in 1970. He was also one of the members of the armed forces that other people at the beaches of places like Oceanside and southern Cali would spit on and speak/curse badly to as a slam on those that served in the military. I can still remember him commenting about this on more than one occasion and how difficult it was for a 17-18 kid to take on something like and over come it. He joined the service at perhaps the most anti American time among Americans that I can ever recall. He was also a victim of the abuse that ensued when desegregation in the school system here in the Dallas/Ft Worth area that came about. He experienced a lot of trauma/conflict brought about by racial tension. Here again, he was kid when that came about at the age of 15-16.
And you realize with time as you grow older, a person can only be faced with so much and particularly in childhood or even young adulthood if they're to be able to realistically over come their problems in life. If you throw too much at someone too soon, they may never recover from it.
The sad thing about the penal system is the people who apprehend, judge, sentence and process the inmates don't bother to find out what the triggers where that caused and landed the person in prison in the first place. There is no such thing as rehabilitation. If the penal system had some kind of program in place from the beginning and if they helped the prisoners on their first incarceration then there probably wouldn't be any recidivism and people would learn not to continue to self destruct else they'll only land right back in jail.

For what it's worth, I don't believe your brother chose the life that lead him to where he is now but rather he was thrust into it. A child or young adult never chooses, they are thrust into a life that they see around them and they think and believe that is what life is all about. As they don't know any better. They don't have a role model to teach them otherwise, and if they make any friends they follow them and take their friends path not knowing that eventually it would get them into trouble one day. They do it because they want to be wanted, accepted and needed, they want to be a part of something, whether that be a group, or a fraternity or what ever. These people accept them into their circle. So the young become impressionable and mimic their peers and do as they say and do as they do and sadly their reward for being a part of that group has a role on effect for the worse.

I'm so sorry Firebrand, So sorry that nothing can take you pain or the pain of your brother away.
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:44 PM
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I can't say much more than you've said, Firebrand, but I can add this:
You and your brother are now a permanent part of my life and I don't regret that for a minute. Not that prison or the experience has many of them, I would still call this a silver lining.
Born, I don't believe Vernon has given up on life. If anything he's still very much aware that there is a different life happening somewhere else and he's interested in it. He maintains a connection with it and shares his feelings about his circumstances freely. If we never see Vern on this side the gate, I can say that it wasn't because he gave up in his heart but rather that the path to it was fraught with misinformation and longer than he could make.
He's got a heart. He's learned to protect it well. I give him a lot of credit for that. He's also angry and I can't knock him for that. Life and Vernon seem to be in a perpetual push-pull. He's got some responsibility in that and I think he knows it.
Marty, you love Vernon and I know he knows that. I also know that he loves you, too. Not news: you're both fiery and unfortunately very susceptible to the other's version of flame. I think you've got some guilty around him and I hope that one day that is settled for you. Even in one of his most spirited rants, he would never want you to carry that cross for him.
miamac, You are a very kind person indeed and Vernon is very fortunate to have you as one of his friends and he's also very fortunate to have Firebrand as a wonderful, caring and loyal brother. And i'm truly sorry that he has to stay behind bars for the rest of his life. I believe 40 years is a very long time for anyone to have to pay for something that's already been served.
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