Sunday, 22 April 2001
As a keen sports fan I was interested in the new UK boxing Internet web site called www.BoxingAction.com.
I was very impressed with the web site, and although it is new it is already a premier boxing site. I could easily be persuaded to say that it is the premier one.
When I 'hit' the impressive looking site there were a number of very interesting articles.
However one article, in particular, entitled: 'Justice Must Not Be The Train That Arrives Late', really caught my interest.
As a victim who has had a regular place on this train, I was intrigued by the title.
When I read it, it confirmed that injustice is a worldwide cancer,
and the word 'justice' is a word that is raped more than other.
The publisher turned out to be an old friend, and immediately agreed.
That is the good news.The bad news is I have to warn you that it is disturbing reading.
The Shame Of Death Row
What right does America have to impose upon human beings the barbaric torment of being incarcerated for years on Death Row, which means that each inmate wakes up every morning with the question, will this be the day when they will tell me the hour, and day I am to die?
Forcing a human being to live for years under the soul destroying threat that at any time he may be taken out of his cell, and summarily executed is barbaric, and any country that supports this policy is as equally guilty.
There may be some of you who may believe that you understand that which people on Death Row suffer. That is impossible because there is no one with such far-reaching imagination. At best you may only have a general conception. It is not possible to truly understand the torment to the mind, body and soul that the inmates are forced to endure - and let there be no doubt that amongst the inmates on Death Row there will be innocent people.
America Stands In Shame
The length of time that people are forced to spend on Death Row makes a mockery of democracy, and Human Rights. It is a disgrace and shames America, and its people. While this shameful state of affairs exists America has no right to preach to any other country on Human Rights.
No doubt there are people on Death Row who have committed heinous crimes that are unforgivable, but that doesn't give the authorities the right to seek revenge, and in return commit an abhorrent crime. Two wrongs never make a right - especially when the State is involved!
A State loses all claims to probity if it preaches Human Rights to foreigners, and then abandons them when it comes to its own people.
The frightening number of innocent people in this country who would have been put to death years ago for murders that they did not commit is a devastating lesson for all people who advocate capital punishment.
Should Former State Boxing Champion Die?
America, the land of which the Statue of Liberty is its shrine to democracy and justice, often becomes through political decisions a complex nation. Generally speaking, it is made-up of sophisticated citizens who are responsible for many of the creations in the past two centuries that have magnificently improved the lifestyle of people across the globe.
Yet despite their cultured image there is a dark side to the American dream that is caused by politicians who when faced with a serious problem to which they have no answer resort to barbaric practices that stain with blood the Stars and Stripes flag.
Whether it is napalm bombing of civilians in wartime or the treatment of people convicted of serious criminal offences they badly serve America, and its people. Friends of the United States expect more.
People that saw the film that featured the criminally insane serial murder Hannibal Lecter could be forgiven for thinking that the terrifying conditions under which Lecter was incarcerated where fictional.
They could not be more wrong.
Such appalling regimes are a fact of life for some prisoners. In these appalling subterranean conditions where daylight is never seen prisoners are doomed to spend the rest of their natural lives.
When Society Is Shamed
There are, of course, heinous crimes for which pity for the perpetrators is misplaced. Nevertheless, when society joins the barbarians, and retaliates with savage and inhumane alleged correctional punishment merely because those who are highly paid to provide answers to these ills of society are mindless, then we are all shamed.
America doesn't stand alone in having mindless politicians. The re-introduction of capital punishment in certain States of the Union is fraught with danger and it is the last resort of the mindless. The reason capital punishment is unacceptable in a civilised society is because the danger of the State committing murder is always there. If capital punishment were the law in the UK people that in recent years have been found guilty of terrorist activities and murder, and who were later found to be innocent due to modern forensic science would now be early corpses - killed by the State.
The Ring Of Truth
In the August issue of The Ring magazine a former associate editor of The Ring has written a disturbing narrative on the circumstances of the murder trial and verdict of guilty on 47-years-old Anthony 'Tony' Fletcher the former lightweight boxing champion of the State of Pennsylvania whose fighting nickname was 'Two-Gun'.
Fletcher, claims he was wrongfully convicted.
Fletcher is in Green State Correctional Institution, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, which is a six-hour drive from Philadelphia. His cellmate for the past eight years on death row has been The Grim Reaper who is beckoning him to come closer and closer.
Fletcher suffers from Bell's palsy. His left eye appears to be in a perpetual squint and the left side of his face droops slightly.
He is locked up for 23 hours each day but is allowed to use the law library in the jail.
His mother, Lucille has visited him only twice. She has said that it is emotionally too disturbing for her. There is no communication between him and his grown-up daughters.
His son, 21-years-old Anthony junior and Junior's mother, Diana Settles are his most loyal supporters. Diana is in charge of his legal defence fund and Junior assists with legal research and is committed to prove his father innocent as charged.
Father and son write to each other regularly and Junior tries to visit him three times a year.
The State vs Fletcher
Anthony junior was a 13-years-old schoolboy when his father was involved in an altercation with Vaughn Christopher in the early hours of March 2, 1992 that resulted in Christopher being shot and hospitalised.
According to Fletcher a week before the shooting drug abuser Christopher
held-up a 'craps' game and stole $50 of Fletcher's money. When the two
next met Fletcher punched Christopher. Christopher pulled out a gun,
the two men struggled and the gun discharged twice.
The police disagree. Their version is that Fletcher deliberately shot Christopher because of a debt over drugs.
Fletcher claims he is the victim of a conspiracy that involved the
State prosecutor, the Judge, the Coroner and his own lawyer.
The questions posed by Fletcher to support his claim include: "The State prosecutor asked the jury: 'Do you know why they call him Two-Gun? It's because he always carries two guns."
The autopsy report suggests that no clothing was sent to the medical
examiner's office. The hospital report says the clothing was sent to
the medical examiner. If the autopsy report is correct then it would
appear to be a departure from the regular procedure to send clothing
for forensic examination.
The key court prosecution witness was Renee Grant who was wanted for theft and prostitution when she testified.
The condemned man is alleging 'ineffective Counsel' represented him.
State prosecutor Marc F. Costanzo is unimpressed by the host of discrepancies upon which Fletcher is basing his appeal. Mr. Costanzo said, "The jury heard all the evidence. What was Fletcher's intent when he fired two shots at somebody? The jury spoke out and found it was intent to kill." Yet before the trial started prosecutor Costanzo offered Fletcher a plea bargain of 15-30 years if Fletcher would plead guilty to third-degree murder, hardly, the action of a prosecutor with a watertight Murder 1 case.
The law in Pennsylvania states a jury may infer the intent to kill
if a deadly weapon is used on a vital part of the body. This is a critical
legal point in the Fletcher case. Prosecutor Costanzo, according to
a trial transcript produced by Fletcher, is said to have described the
right flank where a bullet entered the body of Christopher, to the jury
as: "That's the back of the inside wall of the abdomen - the right kidney".
Later in the trial the Judge asked expert witness Dr. Ian Hood the physiological cause of death. Dr Hood replied: "The immediate cause most probably begins with haemorrhagic shock caused by persistent blood loss from the damage done by the gunshot wound to the right flank." The cause of death according to the answer by the MD was not restricted to the gunshot wound. This is important as later events proved.
When Christopher was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania hospital
the medical team wanted to immediately give blood transfusions. The
mother of Vaughn Christopher who is a practicing Jehovah's Witness forbade
them to do so on religious grounds. After 12 1/2 hours in hospital under
medical care Christopher died.
Asked to comment on the refusal by the family to the request by the medical team treating Christopher to allow them to perform blood transfusion on him, Prosecutor Constanzo said: "I don't think that's accurate information ’ There's no evidence of that, that I recall at trial."
On this occasion Mr. Costanzo is correct because it was never put before the court.
Comedy Of Errors
Mrs. Lucille Fletcher, mother of the condemned man, said, "Tony was not tried fairly. It was chaos in the courtroom."
Attorney Stephen P. Patrizio represented Fletcher.
The outstanding questions that require answering by lawyer Patrizio are why did he fail in open court to seek satisfactory answers to the unanswered questions
Lawyer Stephen Patrizio has much to answer for and now says that: "Fletcher deserves a new trial on a number of issues.Homicide detectives have told me that this was not a first-degree murder. The worst scenario is that it was third-degree murder. The right thing for the commonwealth to do would be to give him time served and let him go home."
These are bizarre comments for a lead trial lawyer to make post-trial.
Lawyers are paid for legal opinion - not homicide detectives.
It also begs the question: what issues that were not known at the trial have since been discovered to justify his latest comments?
Mr. Patrizio has told us that which the commonwealth should do.
Boxingaction.com will now tell Mr. Patrizio what he should do.
In view of past events we believe that he has a moral responsibility to assist Anthony Fletcher to obtain the services of an experienced criminal trial lawyer so that every effort is made to secure a new trial at Federal level and the full facts placed before the court and jury.
Justice In The Big Country?
If the due process of law is carried out on Anthony Fletcher it will be permanent.
The mother's son who became a loved father is due to die by lethal injection on what appears to be seriously unsatisfactory circumstances.
Is this the correct manner for justice to be administered in the most
powerful nation in the world? If it is then the prayer: 'God Bless America'
may have a certain hollow ring about it.
No man should be put to death in the face of such unanswered concern.
Nothing will bring back Vaughn Christopher back to this world.
The same will be said of Anthony Fletcher if he is executed and later proved to have been not guilty of first-degree murder.
Boxingaction.com commends Mr. Robert Cassidy and The Ring magazine for their expression of public duty in highlighting the Anthony Fletcher case. We pledge our support to them, to the Fletcher family and to Anthony Fletcher in their quest for a new trial where justice may be seen to be done.
Double murderer of two women, Gary Heidnick was convicted in 1988 and was the last person to be executed in Pennsylvania. The Judge that passed the sentence of death was Ms. Lynne Abraham the incumbent District Attorney of Philadelphia.
The New York Times profiled Ms. Abraham under the heading "The Deadliest D.A". The article said: "Abraham's office seeks the death penalty virtually as often as the law will allow."
At the time Mr. Cassidy wrote his article there were 180 inmates on death row in Pennsylvania. 130 from Philadelphia as a result of prosecution by the "deadliest D.A."
The Value Of Boxing
The value of the sport of boxing to various communities may be gauged from the fact that when he was boxing Anthony Fletcher senior made his mother, family and community proud of him.
Away from boxing he was no pillar of the community and in no way could he be described as a candidate for the title of: "The Model Citizen". However, the real question now is did he commit first-degree murder?
It is ironic that the hypodermic substance syringe, the medical implement that has saved so many lives and played a major role in the decline of Anthony Fletcher senior will now become the instrument that will inject the fatal toxic substance that will be the cause of Anthony Fletcher's death unless
Wanted - A Legal Saviour
Anthony Fletcher is seeking a new attorney who will ensure that all the facts are put before a Federal Court.
Is there no legal eagle out there with sufficient pride in the legal profession and the personal determination to see justice rule?
The reward will be the giving of the precious gift of life to a man who may not be guilty of first-degree murder, and therefore has a lawful right to live-out his natural life until the main man calls time.
It should not be the impatient executioner with his deadly death weapon - a hypodermic syringe containing a deadly toxic substance.
BOXING RECORD OF ANTHONY FLETCHER
Began his boxing career in the army in 1977 when stationed in Germany.
Won 159, lost 12 as an amateur.
Won the national AAU title at 132 pounds (9st. 4lbs).
He beat future world champions: Ray Mancini, Johnny Bumphus, Milton McCrory, Harry Arroyo and Jimmy Paul.
"The first time I saw Anthony Fletcher was in the '77 AAU championships. He beat all the Kronk fighters in the gym so that should tell you what kind of potential he had."
Marty Feldman (manager)
"What a beautiful kid he was. He was a pleasure to deal with.
He could fight but he had that bad blinker.
They put him in a fight with bullets inside him. They did it for the money, but I don't need money like that."
Initially as a pro' fighter Anthony progressed well.
He decisioned future lightweight champion Livingston Bramble in '81. There were even whispers of a title fight.
In the same year he contracted Bell's Palsy and lost control of his facial muscles, and his boxing quest.
Suddenly he was told he might never fight again. He had to wear a patch while sleeping and a ski mask outdoors in winter to avoid the cold.
He chewed wads of gum to strengthen his facial muscles.
After 11 months he returned to the ring and set-up an 11-bout unbeaten streak.
In 1984 he suffered a detached retina in a 10-round fight against Frank Newton.
Two years later he returned to the ring.
In 1987 his record was 21-0-1.
Then came consecutive losses against Tim Burgess and Miguel Santana.
Fletcher lost interest in boxing. His final fight in a boxing ring was on August 21,1990 when he was k.o'd. by Oba Carr. "