“Life After Death Row”

Hinton and Bryan


Happy Tuesday ….
This story takes place 30 years ago from this past weekend.  Anthony Ray Hinton was one of several (10) children of a hard praying woman who lived in the post Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. era in Birmingham, AL circa 1985.  In plain English, this was the way things were STILL being done in Birmingham by law enforcement … after Dr. King’s historical Civil Rights Movement’s hey day.
Two managers in a fast food restaurant in Birmingham who happened to be white were killed by a lone gunman.  Ray Hinton was arrested and accused first of kidnapping and robbery.  When he told the detective that he had no idea what he was talking about and again asked what he was being arrested for, the detective still didn’t tell him.  Obviously, Hinton is a young African American male of 29 years of age.  This is where my heart gets broken!!  While some may not identify with him … even an African American male who did not have to experience this … I certainly do.  It could easily have been me!  I know … I know … some of you would say, “That would never happen to ME!” …. be glad … ’cause you probably couldn’t have handled it.  Remember, I said Beulah Hinton raised Ray with scripture from the Bible, which she told him to tuck into his heart.  Ray said, “You didn’t have anything else to do on death row …. all you could do was to read the Bible!”
His favorite scripture was Mark 11:24: “Therefore, I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”  Now some of you might say, “Oh, I don’t believe any of that stuff!”  … just be glad that you don’t have to … because you probably wouldn’t have survived 30 years on death row anyways!!  Just be glad!  Hinton had the faith … he believed that the God he served would NOT let him die for something that he didn’t do.  F.A.I.T.H.
Hinton said that when he was arrested, he asked the detective what he was being arrested for.  The detective didn’t tell him right away … but said he would tell him soon.  Hinton said that he (the detective) said he was being arrested for the murder of two white managers at a fast food restaurant.  Hinton told the detective that he didn’t do it.  They found a gun in Hinton’s mother’s home where he was staying.  The prosecution even said that there was NO match between the pistol at Hinton’s mother’s home and the pistol used to kill the two white managers.  The detective told Hinton: “I don’t care if you did it or not.  There is a white judge, a white prosecutor and a white jury.  You will be convicted.”   That was when the nightmare began.  The ballistic’s expert hired by the defense was paid $500 … and was blind in one eye!  The state prosecutor ate him up and spit him out, according to Hinton!  Who would the jury believe … while there were maybe 5 blacks, said Hinton, … a ballistic’s expert who was blind in one eye … or the state!!!!???  Can I add the words “no brainer” here?!?
So, you can unravel the story here as the Equal Justice Initiative’s attorney, Bryan Stevenson, did … until he finally got the Supreme Court to overturn the judge and jury’s original decision to put Hinton on death row and order a retrial.  The prosecution dropped the charges instead!!!  Hinton said his arrest was “kidnapping sanctioned by the State of Alabama” and that he was found guilty at first due to “race, poverty, inadequate legal assistance and prosecutorial interference”!!  Read up on the story … imagine what it must have been like for Anthony Ray Hinton … who lost his 30’s in prison … his 40’s in prison … and his 50’s in prison … due to a need to find and convict a black male … any black male!!!
Be glad it wasn’t you … Hinton is now experiencing “Life After Death Row” … thanks to the relentless efforts of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative … and … according to Hinton … HIS God!
John I. Cook, Director

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