"The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It's the same thing, fear, but it's what you do with it that matters." Gus D'Amato
If you missed the ESPY's on Wednesday night, you missed the story of DEWEY BOZELLA. Bozella was presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for 2011 at the annual ESPN awards show last night. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=6740501.
During his acceptance speech, Bozella used a quote from the great boxing trainer Gus D'Amato about fear. You see, for 26 years Dewey Bozella stood strong and stared fear directly in the face, and finally, fear blinked.
In 1977, Emma Crasper was 92 years old when she was robbed, beaten, and murdered near her home in Poughkeepsie, New York. In 1983, six years after the murder, two inmates told prosecutors that it was Dewey who'd murdered the old woman. They lied because it enabled them to cut deals that would get them released. Despite the fact that there was absolutely no physical evidence connecting Dewey to the crime, a jury found Bozella guilty and he was sentenced to 20 years to life. The case was appealed and Bozella was granted a new trial. In 1990, during the second trial, the ADA offered Bozella the chance to plead guilty and get credit for time served. Bozella turned down the offer - the jury convicted him again - and he returned to prison. Once again he faced the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars.
During his time in prison, Dewey was a model prisoner. He earned a bachelor's degree from Mercy College. Then a master's from New York Theological Seminary. He got married. Several guards wrote several times to the Parole Commission recommending Dewey be released. At each parole board hearing thereafter, with a chance to walk out of jail if he just confessed to the crime he was convicted of, Dewey maintained his innocence.
Bozella began writing to the Innocence Project, and he did so every month for several years before they finally responded. But when they finally got a chance to look at his file, all of the physical evidence had been destroyed. Eventually, the Innocence Project was able to convince the high-powered law firm of WilmerHale to handle the case on a pro bono basis. Two associates (with no prior criminal defense experience) spent 2,500 hours on the case between 2007 and 2009. Finally, in October of 2009, they convinced the trial judge to grant Dewey yet a third trial. Given the Judge's ruling, the State dropped the charges against him, and on October 28, 2009, after spending 26 years in jail for a crime he did not commit, 50 year old Dewey Bozella walked out of the courthouse a free man. He had spent more than half of his life behind bars for a murder he did not commit.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of Dewey Bozella's in our prisons throughout the State of Florida and all across this country. And the only thing standing between our clients and their freedom is you, the criminal defense attorney. So, the next time your client tells you he/she didn't do it, think about Dewey Bozella and how he handled fear. He stared it down for 26 years until fear finally lost. Don't ever back down from your convictions when fighting for the freedom of your client. You owe it to all of the other Dewey Bozella's of this world.
And, if you want to do more, contact David Rothman locally (he is Board Treasurer of the Florida Innocence Project) or contact the Florida Innocence Project directly at 850-561-6767 or visit their web site at http://floridainnocence.org/index.php .
CAPTAIN OUT ......