In the Court of Public Opinion

This week I am hanging out on a hard wooden bench in a courtroom on the 8th floor of the judicial building in Fort Myers. I am here to give a personal reminder of the man I knew as my brother and friend, Mark Schwebes. Maybe it is better said in this way – I am here to represent Mark’s humanity to the court and to the public. Often times it seems that over time and legalese, the victim is reduced to another name on another piece of paper. Their voice can no longer be heard and the pictures have faded with time. So, here I am, hopeful that people will see the victim as well as the accused.

As for the accused, I hope that people can look at his humanity also. He is someone’s son, someone’s brother, cousin, friend …

Public reaction and comments:

It was the attorney’s fault. No, it was the grandfather’s fault. No, it was the mom’s fault. It was his friend’s fault. He was framed. Enough of this nonsense. You want to know who to blame for all your problems , Kevin Foster ? Simple, just look in the mirror.

“Oh, blah, blah, blah. He was on drugs and was “having fun” for sure. Make him pay! We’ve been paying his room and board too long now.”

Dr. Faye Sultan… in case you hadn’t realized it, you really cannot state FOR SURE that he was Bipolar in 1996 if you started seeing him in 2003. Many things had happened since then. It could have been the stress of knowing that his precious little life was coming to an end as he knew it that triggered the Bipolar that you now see in him. Also Dr. Faye Sultan, had he been Bipolar back in 1996 that does NOT excuse him for his actions. There are many that are dx’d with that and they do not go out plotting to blow up bldgs nor do they plot murders! They live lives to their fullest extent. There are many who you would never guess that are Bipolar, they are highly intelligent too! Katherine Zeta Jones has just made it public that she suffers from it, what has she blown up lately, or who has she shot at point blank range?

“This is turning into a circus… like usual.”

What everyone fails to mention is that Florida leads the nation in death row exonerations (23), that many of those sentenced to death had ineffective lawyers, that new technologies now exist which demonstrate brain damage, that life 25 has been abolished and “life means life”, resulting in a greater proportion of life sentences in recent cases, that many on the row had been recommended life, but through judicial overrides were sentenced to death, a now almost impossible practice, and that many death row inmates, though guilty, simply did not commit the worst of murders, but were from an area of the state where even “garden variety” murders, like this case, were prosecuted as capital cases. You fail to acknowledge that studies show a whopping perrcentage of capital defendants are and were mentally ill, that almost every one of them had nightmarish lives, and that the wealthy do not get the death penalty and frequently are not even indicted for first degree murder. You are unaware of the great racial disparity in capital sentencing, the lack of adequate funding for the defense, the prevalence in capital cases of prosecutorial misconduct, the use of faulty eyewitness identifications, lying jailhouse snitches, junk science, inappropriate plea bargaining in exchange for questionable co-defendant testimony, and the tremendous effect pretrial publicity has on a prosecutor’s decision to seek the dath penalty, like it did in this case and in Justin Grodin and Kemar Johnston’s case, two highly mitigated cases where the state let the cries of the mob drive its decision to seek the ultimate penalty. Thank God for our Bill of Rights and the independent judiciary which protects us from bloodthirsty mobs like most of the bloggers on this site.

Blah, blah, blah, tell that to the band director’s family, the students, and faculty who knew and respected him.

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