Chapter 24. “You Must Have Been Looking for Something”

I was awakened the morning of March 29th and told to get ready for court.  Actually, I thought it would have been postponed to provide time for the Judge to assign me new counsel.  I thought, too, perhaps the Judge reviewed all the material and possibly dismissed the case because of the apparent problems.  It was not to be.  I sat in the holding area, all day, just to be brought back without seeing the Judge or an attorney.  The U.S. Marshal told me I would be brought tomorrow and my hearing rescheduled.  It was my belief it would be a waste of time, if having new counsel assigned, it would take more time to get them up to speed.

The following morning I was already awake when the officer opened my room prior to the time when all cells are opened, providing us, those going to court an opportunity to use the showers first.  As I prepared, I knew this would be my last day and I would not be returning.

A little after 10:00 a.m., I was brought to the enclosed attorney/inmate room and saw Mr. Matos who I did not expect to see.  In truth, I was disappointed it was not Mr. Morales.  Mr. Matos explained to me what would occur in court and how the Judge will proceed in the matter and will ask me to tell him why I do not want to have the Federal Public Defender no longer involved in my case.  He explained he understood and felt no animosity toward me, regarding my not wanting him, because of my involvement with another case and that I knew matters pertaining him.

During our exchange I shared with him I did not feel confident he would provide me with the same aggressiveness Ms. Plaza provided and believed I should pursue a change and go to trial.  I learned in order to do so, one must truly “be innocent” of the charges.  Mr. Matos indicated he had a copy of the transcript I requested from the Judge and he was particularly impressed by my allocution.  I was angered, because I was waiting for the document since it was ordered to be given to me over three months ago.  Our time before the Judge was to be at 3:30 and I was just given the transcript and escorted back to the holding area where I rejoined my associates, about seven Spanish-speaking persons.

I could not keep still.  I opened the transcript and began reading.  It brought back everything as if it was again being replayed in front of me, yet six months passed.  I read the part, toward the end, when I asked to address the Court.  The guy who spoke then was not the same guy who was here today.  What happened?  What did I want?  Something was disturbing me deeply.  I began doing something I said I would never do and that was pace.  I equated pacing, in a cell, on the same level with animals I’d seen in the zoo.  It’s what kept me from going to the yard and walking circles supposedly for exercise.  It’s simply pacing on a larger scale and I wanted nothing to do with it.

About 3:00 I was escorted to the courtroom where an actual trial was in progress.  At first I thought they were discussing me but someone else was being tried for the possession of child pornography.  I kept my head down and concentrated on paperwork just handed me by Mr. Morales who was standing outside the courtroom with Mr. Matos.  He handed me his motion to request removal from the case as per my request.  Since the Judge could not see me at the time scheduled, I was removed and placed in a holding cell just outside the court—alone.

Alone.

The greatest battle I would ever fight would be waged in this room.  I could not see but could hear the escorting marshal snoring in another part of the room.  There were no other inmates in either of the other two holding cells.  Just me—alone.

I struggled between what I believed God told me to do and my faith about going to trial and another position I could not keep from hearing.  A voice.  A still, small voice.  And this voice kept repeating a thought from what Attorney Matos had just said,

“You have to be innocent”, and another voice, that of Mayra who told me over the telephone more than a year before,

“You had to be looking for something.”

I struggled.  I thought of Jacob and his words,

“I won’t let You go until You bless me,” except I could not feel His presence, on the contrary, there was no presence.  No direction.  No help.  How can I reconcile this need to go forward to trial and this wrestling in my heart not to go forward?  Is this what will happen during the last days when the Holy Spirit is withdrawn from the earth?  What keeps them?  Is this the struggle the martyrs suffered seeing their family destroyed as well as themselves, for the sake of the Church?  God’s Church?  I wanted Him to tell me what to do.

“You have to be innocent” in order to reverse the plea.  Am I?  No, but I did want to give the tape to the police.  But what was your initial intent?  Are you innocent?

You had to be looking for something.

Had you been true to your God, to your religious belief and your wife, would you have bothered to seek out those groups on the Internet?

“No.  But, Lord, You told me to go to trial.  Why can’t I be clear on this?”

No answer.  It was a war.  Not between evil and right but what I perceived were two rights!  There has to be made a decision and it has to be made by myself.  I felt as if all heaven were awaiting my choice as well as all hell.  After making my decision to plead guilty in October, I had not rested at all.  I thought I did, but I hadn’t.  I wondered what would have been the result had I gone to trial?  I asked God to one day reveal the result in my prayer list.  I’ve instructed others to fight.  Don’t give in to the system, fight, go to trial!  Here’s my second chance to get it right.  Is it fear?  Fear?  Yes, there is some fear.  Fear of what, though?  Then I began to understand.  I had a fear of being sentenced.  It had become easy to get up each morning knowing I was not sentenced, knowing there was little the staff at the prison could require of me.  There was the fear of this changing.  It would be easy to wait five years than to be told I’m sentenced three years, if that makes any sense!  Later, Attorney Matos agreed with this thought when I shared it with him.

It is finished, Lord. There will be no trial because I’m not “innocent”.  Once I said those words I realized, then, what I had to do, everything began to fit into place.  The presence of God returned to me, in that cell of isolation, and began to minister to my understanding like the angels ministered to Jesus’ temporal needs after the wilderness temptation.  He shared with me had I gone to trial He could not help me.  He could never vindicate a wrong act.  He also revealed to me what occurred September 4, 2002 at my apartment the day my computer was missing.  He simply said, “I took it.”  I understood, now, if it remained in the room, I would not have left when I did, but I needed a little push to do so.  I would have justified staying, since the rent was paid for the month, continuing to do drugs and would have made provision for the video, buying a new VCR, causing myself more grievous problems I could not then see.  What Louisa told Mayra was true when they talked after I was arrested, “God did this to keep something worse from happening to him.”

I wanted relief from one addiction and God was making the effort to clean all addictions, so He could answer the original prayer of September 3, 2002, “Lord, save me.”  Saving does not imply partial but a completeness of effort.  Now, I could put behind me all thoughts of “if” I had gone to trial.  Yes, I could have won on a technicality but would I have won in any other way?

Later that night He revealed the truth, absolute truth, in Genesis 3:7:

“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”  

It was my not doing well when I opened the door and became sin’s servant.  Oh, if only had I done well, then, but thankfully with our Loving Father, He does give us second chances to correct a mistake.  I’m getting a second chance for several firsts’ mistakes in this one effort.

When the guard came to escort me to the courtroom, I informed my attorneys we were going to proceed as schedule and they were to continue representing me for the completion of my case.  They were speechless, at first, but I believe they were satisfied in knowing it is over—finally.

When the Judge entered the courtroom and questioned the last motion entered, he permitted me to speak.  My attorney, Mr. Matos, suggested to the Judge it would be best for me to speak on my behalf.  I reminded him in October I would need time to understand this new life of accepting one’s responsibility.  I told him, for the past three months, I struggled with this new lifestyle.  He said he liked the guy who stood before him, last year, and the words he had to say.  I made him aware that the old guy was back again and the new guy, who had been writing all the recent letters and motions, was asked to leave and never return, and after today, there would not be anymore letters or motions written.  The Judge was pleased and so was I—now.

Before sentencing, I was given a chance to make another statement and I’ve included it here:

SENTENCING STATEMENT

October 29th last year, instead of having a trial I decided to take a straight plea.  I also said to the Court, then, I needed more time to understand why I did what I did because I was entering into an area which was not familiar, taking responsibility.  Five months later, I now can tell you why.

I was very determined from the beginning of my arrest to go to trial for the reason of explaining why I did what I did.  I advised my attorney not to come to me with any plea agreements and she honored my request.  Nineteen months I struggled.  I struggled between right, wrong, why, and what is surprising, or maybe not, who else to blame, and if that weren’t enough, the last three months have been how can I capitalize on other’s mistakes.

In 1998, after being stopped for a traffic violation and found to be in violation of probation in another state, I confessed to the City of Vails Gate police officer when it was apparent I would not be returning to my motel room where my drugs and paraphernalia could be found.  After he recovered the items he asked me why did I open myself to additional charges, particularly a felony.  I told him, someone else would rent that room and during housekeeping one day, someone will hit the wall just right, as you have done and what you have in your hand will cause someone to have a very bad day, which did not deserve it.  The officer thanked me and destroyed the items and never charged me.

I have a habit of taking risks, even in my sickness, when I think I am able to help someone.  In this case, I wanted to acquire this tape when offered to me to give to authorities, thinking they could find the offender, but more so, help those who were victimized and offer them help so they could have a better life, and because, for me, it is personal.  I was a victim, rather, still am the victim of child abuse.  And truth be told, often I am confused in my thinking and reasoning.

Again, the question was, did I have this offending material in my possession?  No one is asking why, but did I?  And now I understand the Biblical admonition when you are asked a question, let your answer be either “yes” or “no”, because anything more invites problems.  So, the answer is “yes”.  It was in my possession.

I honored my conscience commitment to not plea bargain.  You see, accepting one’s responsibility is not actualized in bargaining.  This is merely making a difficult situation palatable by manipulation and convenience.  Accepting one’s error is to be admission without consideration for one’s punishment, trusting in the system.  And, I do.

The night of December 30th, long after the midnight bed-check, I read a book whose characters were enjoying a picnic of cold barbeque quail.  Now, I have never had quail, but for certain, one of my favorite food is cold barbeque chicken.  I thought how good it would be to have it right now and how long it has been since I had it.  Too long, was the only answer.  The phrase, “the best things in life are free”, I understand that now.  No one has ever been addicted to cold barbeque chicken like drugs or alcohol or even sexually related material, destroying family, friends, employment and life.  When you have had enough cold barbeque chicken you simply store the rest for another pleasant and free moment.  I shall never take free moments of choice for granted again.  The price is too great a payment for me to continue making after this.  In fact, I do not like the price I am paying today.

I freely give up all my addictions, today, for good, for just one piece of cold barbeque chicken, and the privilege of enjoying it in the freedom of family and friends.

In conclusion, never again, Sir, will such material be found in my possession.  I have learned a better way, due to my error in judgment and lifestyle, and I am sorry and it will not happen again.

Thank you.

END

The Judge sentenced me to thirty months, the lowest he could give me.  He mentioned never giving the minimum when it is not a first offense, but because he, the Court, was impressed with my statement October 29, 2003 and now this statement on March 30, 2004, he was comfortable he was doing the right thing for me.  Before leaving the courtroom, I said “thank you” and he held up his thumb in a “thumbs-up” signal and winked his eye in acknowledgment.

The week after, I wrote another letter to the Judge and my attorneys with this simple message:

“I lied!  One more letter to just say ‘thank you’ for helping me.”

I think they will enjoy that.  I also wrote a letter to the Prosecutor which speaks for itself:

April 5, 2004

Dear Ms. Gonzalez,

You were not present during my sentencing and I have been trained when someone does a good act towards you it is proper to let them know, hence, the purpose of this letter is to say “thank you”.

I wouldn’t expect you or any prosecutor to receive such a letter from a convicted defendant but I wanted you to know that I do not hold any animosity against any of the principals in this case.  On September 3, 2002 I asked God to help me because my addiction(s) were killing me, particularly my drug addiction.  A week later I was arrested and believe this is how God has chosen to answer the prayer.  How can I possibly be angry toward those He has placed in my path to provide the help I need?  I cannot.  As I stated during my allocution October 29, 2003, we are really a team in this matter.

Please extend my appreciation to Special Agent Ivette O’Neill, Inspector Reldys Torres and Undercover Agent Suboya in Cleveland.  I would copy them this letter but do not have their mailing addresses.

I would hope that should our paths cross upon my eventual release, we might have a moment of civility and not avoidance.  Each of you now have been placed on my “Prayer List” and I shall continue to pray for your health, family and prosperity.

Many thanks,

Roy A. Martin

Pleased Defendant

END

This part of the journey is over.  I’m sure there will be more lessons for me to learn for the three months I am to remain here and the three months I will complete in a half-way house, then I will be finished insofar as detention goes.  I was given three years of court-supervision but will not address that but will only say I intend to comply, this time.  Second chances, you know.  However, I will use the time remaining to assist those men I will leave behind and share the benefit we should know “why are we here”.

Chapter 25

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