Imagine living your everyday life and then tragedy strikes within your family. Imagine dealing with your parents getting divorced at the tender age of 7 and your family being torn apart. Imagine being the youngest and only being able to see half of your siblings on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other weekend, mainly because your parents are both too stubborn and too selfish to make things easier on the kids. Pride, power and possession are more important. Imagine both parents remarry and things seem to be stable in both households, you’ve gained two more parents. Whether you like it or not, you adjust to your new everyday life. Now your 14, your father and his wife move to another state far away. You don’t see them anymore or your older siblings because they have lives now too. Your only stability remains from your mother and your step-dad who you’ve known since you were 7. Your step-dad has taught you how to roller skate, ice skate, he taught you how to ride horses (some horses were as new at it as you were) but you cherish your weekends riding horses with him. He’s taught you life lessons that you will always value. He gets you your first car and does everything he can to fix it every time it breaks down, he’s always there to make sure you’re alright. Imagine being grown, he walks you down the isle when you get married. He stands by you when it doesn’t last a year and you make the decision to get divorced. You remarry and he’s more supportive than ever, he’s sees the love that he and your mom had at the tender age of 18 and he knows this is the right guy for you. Now imagine being happily married, having 2 small children and then being told that your mother and and step-dad decide they will divorce. You think about your children and how it will affect them having divorced Grandparents, you remember how ugly divorce was at 7 years old and how it affected everyone and how it still affects everyone. But you’re grown now right? It still stings, knowing one parent won’t be there. I’m not talking emotionally not there, I’m talking physically, like at Christmas or for birthdays. Who’s going to sit in the big chair in front of the t.v. with your daughter eating grapes and watching scary cartoons? That’s what Grandpa did. Who’s going to sit and fish endless hours with them on the railroad ties in front of the pond? That’s what Grandpa did. 2 more kids come along but with divorce and parents being selfish, as most humans are, life goes on and contact slows. This is to be expected, at least that’s what you learned when you were 7 right? You’ve once again adjusted to your new everyday life, life seeing a father and a Grandpa on occasion. Divorce is a tragedy. It would be nice if this blog post could continue as a tragedy of divorce because no matter how stable the household or the parents, divorce turns everything upside down, some people are better at hiding it than others and life goes on.
This blog post isn’t about that kind of tragedy. This is about the kind of tragedy that will completely change your life, the lives of everyone around you and it will change you at your core. You will be thrust into a life you never imagined. A divorce will be nothing compared to this. I’m referring to wrongful convictions. In Denny’s case he caused the death of his brother. He has NEVER denied that. Though, he didn’t murder his brother, he was convicted by a jury of his “peers” of 1st Degree Murder. He is innocent of that conviction; so this case would be categorized as a wrongful conviction. It’s no longer that you don’t have a father figure because of a divorce and because of life, you don’t have a father and your children don’t have their grandfather because he was stolen from you. He was ripped away, he can’t get these years back, you can’t these years back, your children can’t get these years back. He’s innocent, but he’s convicted, he’s sentenced, he is in prison. Everyday life is happening and he is not a part of it and it did not have to happen. Human error by a jury of his so called peers by not standing up to a pushy jury foreman, a judge by trying to get it over with so he can move on to the next case, prosecutors who want to add another feather to their caps, and a defense attorney who’s been practicing over 50 years, who has clearly lost touch of why he was a defense attorney to begin with.
To understand this, you need to put yourself where he is. Don’t just say it, mentally do it. YOU no longer have a name. YOUR inmate number A97677. YOU sleep on a filthy mattress because YOUR sheets can only be cleaned once a month, on a metal bunk bed in a cell that was built for one person, 6×8 feet and YOU have to share it with a stranger, who YOU know nothing about. The walls and floors are dirty and bugs are crawling everywhere. YOU can only take a shower every 7 days, if that, once a month if YOU’RE on lock down, which is usually 9 months out of a year. YOU get out of YOUR cell to go to “chow” twice a day. The food is not edible, YOU can’t eat it. YOU lose weight. YOU can’t take care of YOUR basic needs like trimming YOUR nails, cleaning YOUR ears, looking at YOURSELF in a mirror, because the prison won’t let YOU. YOU’RE degraded by the guards who treat YOU like YOU’RE a piece of garbage. YOU only get the phone to call family once a month, if it works, which only makes YOU more homesick when YOU call. YOU rarely get letters even from YOUR own family. YOU get visits every 3-4 weeks but have to be striped down naked before and after each visit. YOU don’t go to yard because YOU’RE too old to deal with the young punks who deserve to be there and want to challenge YOU. YOU watch t.v. all day with headphones, if they work. YOU have no air conditioning in the summer only a fan to blow the hot air around. YOU have to layer up in the winter with extra t-shirts because the brick walls sometimes form ice on the inside of YOUR cell and YOU aren’t allowed extra blankets. YOU don’t get to feel the warmth of the sun or the breeze of the wind on YOUR face. YOU sleep constantly because time goes by faster. This is YOUR new everyday life.
Wouldn’t YOU want YOUR family or YOUR children or YOUR siblings or YOUR friends doing something to get YOU home? Instead of leaving YOU to the mercy of an appellate defender and the very State that convicted YOU? YOU wouldn’t want them to go on with their lives and occasionally visit YOU and send YOU money for underwear would YOU? Almost as if they’ve accepted where YOU are. YOU wouldn’t want them to leave YOU to die there because they feel there isn’t anything they can do? What if knowing that someone, anyone on the outside was doing everything in their power to get YOU home would make YOUR days and nights not seem quite as long? What if it would give YOU that sliver of hope that YOU need to survive everyday?
So what do you do now? Do you sit and constantly think, where did things go wrong? Those answers come quickly, because so much went wrong but who do you blame? His trial attorney? The Judge? The Jury Foreman who knew too much? His daughter for wanting him to go to trial because she believed it was a the right thing to do since Tony, his brother, was so violent it was a winnable case? Him for defending himself? Yes, pointing fingers will help! NO IT WILL NOT! He needs help, and that’s not helping him. Somebody HELP! There’s no one. Innocence Projects won’t take his case, because it’s not a case of “actual” innocence, meaning he can’t say he wasn’t there when it happened. There are some “projects” who will take cases of self-defense, but they don’t have the time or the resources. He’s 63 years old, HE’S GOING TO DIE IN THERE IF YOU DON’T DO SOMETHING!
Well you know what? You get up, you put your boxing gloves on like a Golden Gloves Boxing Champ would and you FIGHT! No matter how hurt you are, no matter how scared you are, now matter how mad you are, no matter how bad your knees are shaking, you get thrown from that horse and you get back on it!!! He’s convicted. Whatever went wrong is in the past. It’s time to move on from it. It’s time to help him. Once you’re thrust into this world of wrongful convictions you do research, this is how you find that Innocence Projects don’t take self-defense cases and so forth. You’re cautious but you find him an attorney, because he can’t win his appeal on his own, regardless if you’ve lost your faith in the system. You don’t sit back and take it or accept it for what it is. You DO SOMETHING about it! You find other cases and you find people who are in the same situation, some are better off and some aren’t. There’s a pattern and it’s happening everyday and in every state. People are being charged with crimes they didn’t commit, sentenced to life, or even death. People lose their loved ones to the justice system and it’s scary and it’s for no good reason. Prosecutors, Attorneys and Judges lie, hide evidence and are running wild, putting innocent people away and not being held responsible, it’s been happening for a long long time. We wouldn’t have known how bad things could get until we were put in this position and had to be forced to deal with it. Others need to be informed. Facebook pages, websites, blogs, fundraisers, are all helpful to Denny. So like his facebook page, share his website, sign a petition, write him a letter: Dennis Petitt, A97677, Menard Correctional Center, P.O. Box 1000, Menard, IL 62259. Let him know your going to do whatever you can to get him home. This is his everyday day life and it doesn’t have to be. IMAGINE THAT!