|Meet Michael Flinner - Death Row Inmate.|
Michael's journey into hell started in June of 2000. He was out running errands with his only child, 10 year-old Jonathan, for a barbecue that they were going to have that sunny afternoon with his girlfriend Tamra. When Michael and Jonathan arrived home, they found out that Tamra had been murdered while they were away.
At the time Michael Flinner was a regular citizen. He owned a landscape construction company, he had a young girlfriend and a son, whom he adored. (I know the feeling, my daughter is 10 right now, but lives in another state). But then, there was that terrible day in June of 2000 that he had to live with for the rest of his life.
In June of 2001, a former employee at his landscape construction company was arrested in connection with Tamra's murder. What would seem like a joyous time, to finally find the killer, turned sour very quickly.
The accused man began to talk. And boy did he talk. He told law enforcement that Michael Flinner had hired him as a contract killer to snuff out his 18 year-old girlfriend so that he could cash in on her life insurance. Writing from his prison cell in San Quentin, Flinner wrote, "Nothing could be further from the truth." And I did say prison cell. Read on to find out what happened.
This jailhouse snitch kept talking until Michael Flinner was charged with conspiracy to commit murder and two special circumstances. The district attorney sought the death penalty.
Michael's trial lasted 10 weeks. Over 300 civil and professional witnesses testified. Not one of them mentioned anything about a plot to kill Tamra - only the rat in the cage.
What Michael didn't know at the time was that he had entered our legal system, a system he thought was fair, honest, forthright and always produced justice. Guilty people went to prison; the innocent were freed. But that isn't how the system works.
The entire case against Michael Flinner - Landscaper, Widower, Father, Christian - was built on jailhouse confessions and paid informants. Someone wanted a deal and the others got paid, cuz that's what life is all about - get paid. Truth? Honesty? The right thing to do? No one seemed to know the answers to those questions. But they were sure about the guilt of Michael Flinner.
Michael received a rude and harsh lesson about our legal system. To defend yourself against serious charges, you need to be independently wealthy - case in point - OJ Simpson. Blood everywhere, footprints, bad alibi, but a damn good legal team. He walked.
When you can't afford to put together a defense against charges that seek death as a resolution, you can only go so far with your attorney. Plus, the psychology in the courtroom is stacked against everyone on Michael's side of the room.
No matter how well jurists are screened, once they get in those 12 chairs, they start to make assumptions. The accused must have done something wrong, even if it was running on a parking ticket, otherwise, he wouldn't be sitting at that table, handcuffed.
His attorney has psychological prejudice against him by the jury, even though he has a law degree, because this is the guy that wants to let the killer free, back into the neighborhood, back shopping at Wal-Mart, back at church, back at little league games. We don't want killers at little league games.
From the start, the defense has an uphill battle.
|Jeanine Pirro - 100% conviction rate. TV Star.|
Really, 100%. Not one person was innocent. Not one was falsely accused. I don't know how many cases she tried, I'm sure I could look it up. But let's say she had five hundred trials. She was 500 and 0. Maybe it was 1,000. That would make her batting average 1.000 - 1,000 and 0. Not one. Not one provided enough evidence to walk free.
Judge Pirro made a lot of money and was awarded a TV Show. She probably received complimentary makeup from one of the sponsors. Now, for the record, I like Judge Pirro. But, not one? Not one? Still puzzles me.
Michael Flinner wasn't going to be a blemish on the prosecuting attorney's record, not if the prosecutor could help it. Didn't matter if Michael said he was innocent. He just needed to be convicted. That's the American way. And he was. Sentenced to die, too. Everybody on the white stallions scored. Now, Michael Flinner - Landscaper, Widower, Father, Christian - could add Death Row Inmate to his resume.
Michael's son, Jonathan, has been mounting a fight for his freedom. He's also fighting against the Death Penalty.
Jonathan and I crossed paths on Twitter. I wrote a story on this blog titled: Stop Executions. Kill Prisoners With KFC and Mickey D. It's a whimsical piece about a serious subject. I like to hide the truth in my comedy. Although, there is nothing funny I can write about this topic.
My point in the original article was that it costs millions of dollars to execute someone in this country. That is due to the cost of appeals, housing and the actual execution. The process to death is about 20 years on average. It only costs $30,000 a year to house an inmate, on average. They could be in prison for 30 years and not cost nearly what it costs to kill someone, legally.
My suggestion was to stop prisoners from complaining about the food in prison and feed them a strict diet of KFC and McDonald's fast food. We hear every day how it is killing us. Well, kill the prisoners with fast food. Let heart disease be their hooded avenger for the victims.
I have a moral objection to killing anyone - except for the fool that can't get my order right at the golden arches.
Whenever I tweeted the story about the fast food executions on Twitter, Jonathan started retweeting my post. His Twitter username is: DeathRowInmates. Right now, Jonathan has over 19,000 Twitter followers. Every time I post the link to my article on Twitter, he retweets it.
I've never met Jonathan. I've never had a conversation with him on the phone. However, he did give me a link to the website they have: www.DeathRowInmate.org. The site is a bit of a mess and information is hard to find on it. A message on the home page says that they are working on a new site and it should be easier to navigate. I hope so.
How I found the information on their website was by running Michael Flinner through Google. I found links to what Michael has written from behind bars. I'll tell you more about that in a minute. It's fascinating.
I also found a link to the trial summation on the American Judicature Society's (AJS) website. Their slogan is kinda catchy - Promoting the effective administration of justice. Has a ring to it.
This is what was posted there:
Michael Flinner—white, age 32
Sentenced to death in San Diego County, California
By: A jury
Date of crime: 6/11/00
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Flinner became the lover of the 18-year-old victim Tamra Keck. He then took out a $500,000 life insurance policy on her claiming she was a key employee of his failing landscaping business, when in fact she did little work. He hired one of his laborers, Haron Ontiveros, to kill the victim. Ontiveros did so by luring her to a remote location and shooting her in the back of the head. Ontiveros and Flinner were tried simultaneously to separate juries. The jury returned a life-without-parole sentence against Ontiveros, and a death sentence against Flinner. Flinner had a prior rape conviction. His defense claimed he had mental problems.
Prosecutor(s): Rick Clabby
Defense lawyer(s): Sandra Resnick, John Mitchell
Sources: San Diego Union-Tribune 3/27/04, 3/30/04, 4/3/04
So, Rick Clabby put another W in the win column. I wonder if he'll get a TV show?
Isn't it odd that the trigger man got life without parole and the alleged co-conspirator got death? Just struck me as odd. But I think about things like that.
Honestly, I don't know for sure that Michael Flinner is innocent. I'm not saying he is. I'm taking Jonathan's word for it.
What makes me question his guilt is what Michael is doing being bars. He writes a lot to people supporting his cause. He petitions for donations, even if they're small for his legal defense fund and his appeal.
I've known a lot of felons in my day. They all claim innocence. However, once they are freed, they tend to go back to the streets and do the same things that got them in the big house in the first place. Can anyone hear the umpire, "That's strike one. Strike two. Strike three. You're OUT! (of society)
Michael's life behind bars has many dimensions; and, as I mentioned, it's a fascinating story.
Let's start with Michael's goals. He is enrolling in every college course on horticulture that he can find. He wants to earn two degrees behind bars. So, he's planning for a productive life outside of prison in the same field he was in before incarceration, if he can win his appeal. That's noble.
But he's also fighting the Death Penalty, as Jonathan is and as I am.
In his prison writing, posted on Jonathan's website, Michael Flinner brings up a societal issue that could save thousands of lives. There are thousands and thousands of people that need organ donations. Daily, prisoners die and are buried in pauper's graves. Michael is advocating a Prison Organ Registry to takes organs from lives that did not do so well in society and give their spirits some vindication by donating their organs and doing something good by keeping people alive. No such registry exists today. In China, they don't ask questions and they harvest organs from deceased prisoners all the time.
But starting a national Prison Organ Registry, does that sound like a guy with mental illnesses? OH, BTW - I have mental illnesses. I'm ADD/ADHD, have bipolar disorder, severe depression and sporadically intense anxiety disorder. I can't work, but I can write.
Michael doesn't have the mastery of the written word the way I do. But I could sense something different in the tone, thoughts and message from this con on Death Row. He has a strong vocabulary. He makes sense in his own way. I'd like to meet him.
What's keeping Michael together on Death Row? Love for his son and extended family; and the support they offer him. His educational goals. His causes. What mentally ill prisoner has causes? Whoops, I made a baddy. I implied that people with mental illness have something wrong with them. So what if he has a mental illness. That's prejudicial using the stigma of mental illness as a dark spot on a person's credibility as a witness. Shame on them.
I hate how they do that in the news and in cop shows. "We think he had a mental illness and he wasn't taking his medications." Yes, that always leads to crime. Actually, the medications blow out your kidneys and make you suicidal. Now, that's American pharmaceuticals at work.
What can you and I do? Well, for starters, I'm writing this piece and its link will be programmed into Tweetdeck to pop up about every 4 hours on Twitter. Day after day.
I also plan to keep abreast of what is going on with Michael Flinner in prison and how he's progressing. Updates will appear on this blog as they occur. You can follow this journey by scrolling down the right side of this blog and clicking on the TOE TAG - Death Penalty.
That is all I can afford to do. I have time, just like Michael. I'm a prisoner in a world that I was sent to against my will because of my mental illnesses. I have a 10 year-old daughter that I haven't seen in person since December 13, 2009. I see her a couple times a month on Skype, when we can connect at my sister's house. But I'm broke, living on public assistance (until the blog takes off) and charity from family and a few close friends.
What can you do? The easiest way to help is to pass this post on to everyone you know. Share it on Facebook and MySpace or other social networking sites you belong to. Tweet the link to this post on Twitter (it will be provided below).
You can read the links to Michael's prison writings (provided below). And you can donate to his causes. A donate button is on the home page of the website (which I hope Jonathan fixes, because it is a mess. I think I already said that... hint, hint, Jonathan). Donate a dollar or five or ten. You probably wasted that much money in the past week and never gave it a thought. Keep track of your loose change and use it to change a life. You might do more than change it. You may save it.
Yes, what would you do if you woke up and your whole world had changed? And the journey and direction you were headed was to your death. What would you do, knowing that you were innocent?
That's what happened to the man in this story. He added something horrible to his resume. Michael Flinner - Landscaper, Widower, Father, Christian, Death Row Inmate.
Michael Flinner is a man of faith. He wrote this Bible verse from Death Row.
May all who seek to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace.
Let's hope so.
Link to this article shortened by is.gd - easy to share or tweet
Test the link. Click it. It should bring you back to this blog post.
Michael Flinner's Story and Goals - Written from Death Row.
Michael Flinner's Cause - Scroll way down and you'll see the story.
DeathRowInmate.org - Home Page where you can donate
Web Report of the conviction
Jon Michael Flinner on Twitter - DeathRowInmates
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