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Nick's Turn

Long version: mp3, 2.94 MBs, 3:38
Short version: mp3, 2.01 MBs, 2:28

[Col. Recorded 7/31/03]

For over two decades, Nicholas Yarris has been living a nightmare inside of a nightmare.

It is surely nightmare enough to 'live' on Death Row, a netherworld of the damned, where one is locked in a cell for 22 hours a day (48 hours of weekends).

There are, in fact worse things. Imagine being thought a rapist and a murderer?

What if one were innocent?

For over 20 years Nick has been insisting on his innocence, but few folks cared to listen.

For the last 10 years he has fought for DNA testing, but always the tests came back, marked "inconclusive."

That is, until now.

Recently, Yarris' federal lawyers filed a motion in his pending habeas corpus proceedings. According to a motion filed by Asst. Federal Defender Christina Swarns:

"One thing is now clear: Mr. Yarris should not be required to spend another moment behind bars, much less on death row. He is innocent of this offense and should be freed..."

His lawyers wrote these words because they recently received the results of his latest DNA test, performed by a DNA expert of national renown, Edward Blake of Forensic Science Associates in Richmond, California. The tests researched three samples
from the murder/rape victim, a 32-year old mother named Linda Mae Craig. The tests involved sperm taken from her body, skin from under her fingernails, and evidence retrieved from a glove that DAs said the rapist used during the attack. None of the
evidence matched.

Since 1981 the prosecutors have claimed that Yarris gave a jailhouse confession. That evidence too, seems as worthless as the physical evidence.

Yet the DAs in Delaware County are unwilling, or unable to let Nick go. They have announced that they will fight his release. In an incredible statement, DA G. Michael Green claimed, "DNA testing results in and of themselves do not establish Yarris' innocence, nor do these results indicate a wrongful conviction." (Legal Intelligencer, 7/29/0, pp. 1,6).

Not surprisingly, Yarris remains under the harrowing conditions of Death Row.

It is up to a judge ... again.

For 21 years every judge he has gone in front of has essentially echoed the DAs arguments, that is was he who raped and murdered the victim in December 1981. They have claimed that he did so because the decedent bore a remarkable resemblance to an old girlfriend of his, who he was angry at. They claimed a jailhouse confession given by a silly, drug-addled youth.

Now, in the face of DNA evidence that conclusively proves he did not rape or kill her, the DA announced that DNA is irrelevant.

Of such chimera is the America Death Penalty Machine constructed.

A jailhouse lawyer here on Death Row pointed to another reason that proved his innocence, and while not scientific (like DNA) it had the irresistible pull of logic. He argued, quite convincingly, that Yarris, from his earliest youth, was a notorious thief. He boasts a long string of such offenses on his record.

Yet the victim's body, when she was found, had every bit of jewelry, on her finger, and around her neck, intact. A thief would've been compelled to take it.

It makes sense to me.

Meanwhile, Nick Yarris, longs for an end to his 21-year nightmare.

May it not be long in coming.


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Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

 

Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.