A few weeks ago, I communicated with Antoinette Franks through correspondence and phone calls, and eventually I visited her in the death row to meet her personally.
Many of you may have heard about her case, but to those who have not heard of it, here is a concise summary of her case and her conviction. Antoinette Franks was a police officer in New Orleans (now 37) who was convicted of stealing the Kim Ann restaurant in eastern New Orleans while the policeman was on March 4, 1995. By robbing a policeman named Ronald Williams, (Which she had previously known and worked with) and two were brothers. She and another man (also convicted and sentenced to death) as Roger La Caze for stealing (Google's name and / or going to Wikipedia to view her image).
Later, after her arrest, an investigation revealed the body of a man buried under her house, believed to be her father, who had previously reported that he was missing, so some described as fatal! She was convicted and sentenced to death on 12 September 1995 and is now awaiting execution at the Louisiana Women's Reform Institute in San Gabriel, Louisiana (outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana).
At first, I and I were dealing with the possibility of writing a book together, and to my knowledge, I was the only journalist / writer I spoke to after 13 years after many requests by others. The reason she said she called me was because she thought I would tell her part of the story accurately. Later, after our visit, we decided that this was impossible and I will share with you later.
On a cold and rainy day, I arrived at the prison compound, needless to say, had to carry a lot of security measures. Search, questions, and re-search. The person's background must be investigated in detail before being allowed to see a condemned prisoner. When I entered the private cell in Antoinette, we exchanged pleasantries and finally succeeded in working … what could be a possible book about. It took us a few hours to visit, and we covered a lot about her life as well as my life.
Now why we could not write a book together. Antoinette's attitude to me was contradictory. On the one hand, I was left with the impression that this book would be a confession, and wanted the world (and God) to forgive her, especially the family of the victim. But on the other hand, she steadfastly refused to give up her appeals! Why is this for me, appeals? Why did I ask her about her pleas? Well, my position is if you are guilty before God, why appeal? The appeal in essence still states that you are innocent!
My position was that if I was guilty, I admitted it (you mentioned that there were already two eyewitnesses on the whole crime and admitted at first, but later). I really believed, according to her many letters, that she found God, was ready for "cleansing", and that I wrote about her repentance. Why do we write another book?
As many of you know, I was once a rogue policeman, and I gave up on the law in 2001 because I really rebelled from my past and wanted to pay the price and become a citizen of the world again. I have not only regretted God, but all that I have suffered over the years.
One might ask, but Robert, while on death row, is due to a lethal injection, why not call? I was also due to die! In 1979, when I became a fugitive, I ran because a word outside the prison of Angola (and this was known) was that I would be raped and killed on the first day! A policeman can not survive among prison inmates in general, especially prisoners who hold some of the prisoners placed by the policeman there!
I was still looking at the same time as the prison and DEATH on my surrender! If, for some reason, I am placed in solitary humility, I still have to do what we call respectively.
Does math, 30 years "without" parole, at the age of 45, means that I am 75 at the time of release (if you are alive after 30 years). This is a kind of death, and some may argue that death is better than life in prison (30 years). If not for my belief in God, and my desire to repent, I think the judge would have given me that time. For me, this is the key to freedom … repentance to God, apology to the victim (victims), and stay free of crime. Do not believe in God? Well, that's your right, then apologize to your victim and stay free of crime!
After a few weeks of our visit, I can understand her fear though. I've caught the catch 22: I admit you're guilty, drop your calls, and maybe you receive death before much. Catch the other, use your appeals (average time 12-15 years of appeals) and extend your living time, if you sit sitting in a living cell.
What did you get out of that visit, many messages, and Antoinette's knowledge?
I am grateful because the Lord finally gave me strength so that I would not fear death or 30 years, and gave me faith to know that it was true. I am glad that I obeyed his commandments to surrender … first to him, then to apply the law! My faith … please do not hurt others!
(Please note: This author donates the proceeds from his COP OUT book to various organizations that abuse women and children!)