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Episode 14: "Incarceration And Vindication"

When I left the celebration, my location changed and I found myself in a different place. It seemed to be a gray and dingy place. The words I heard were ringing in my ears loudly. I heard, “Why does God have me here? Why doesn’t He take me? Why was I born? What wrong did I do?”

The steel bars were two-inch thick. They surrounded a 10-foot room. He was sitting on the commode that looked like it was in the center of the cell. Tears were streaming down his face as he prayed that the almighty would take his life and stop this misery. I thought I had been sent to break the chains of his pain but again it was going to be another wait and see episode. He claimed his innocence. The courtroom brought in a guilty verdict. He was tried for the murder of an elderly couple.

Circumstantial evidence was presented and DNA testing was not yet discovered at this time. The best prosecuting attorney in the state brought this 30-year-old Vietnam veteran to a death sentence. This happened to be the last trial that the prosecutor was going to take part in. He was going to run for governor and this conviction made it possible for him to achieve the favor of the public through the media. It seemed more important to lock someone up for his political gain. Prosecutor Pettibone was eventually elected Governor while Josh Martin rotted in jail awaiting his death by lethal injection.

Josh’s family was devastated. They were looked upon as people that should’ve never been allowed to live among them. They knew it wasn’t their fault, but it was of little solace for being treated differently by everyone for years. Josh’s father died of a heart attack after three years of emotional stress from the trial that took his only son away to die for a crime he sincerely thought he did not commit. As he breathed his last breathe, I took him by the hand and led him beyond the hill.

Josh’s mother was left alone to raise Jed’s younger sister as grieving became a way of life.

I asked why once again. This time there was only silence. I waited, and then it came. I heard, ”I had a son that suffered. I knew then and I know now what I’m doing.”

Gov. Pettibone was enjoying a high life of power and status while his family seemed to be falling apart. Some say hidden things always come out at the most awkward of times. His family wasn’t used to the dramatic scrutiny that takes place when you’re in the public eye. His stepson was constantly being reprimanded for public intoxication and at times for driving under the influence.

Pettibone’s wife, Nelda, was constantly indulging in plastic surgery and betting on the horse races until she lost a total accumulation of approximately $1.5 million. Most of this amount was owed to many shady people. She always tried to keep her money business hidden from Mr. Pettibone.

Nelda would always find a way to pay the debt. But this time the wolves were knocking at her door for the rest of the money. Pettibone received the call and was informed of his wife’s kidnapping. The ransom was $2 million. He only had a day to come up with it or he would never see his precious wife again. As Governor, Pettibone got the money and he rushed to pay them off. But by that time, Nelda was already stone cold dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Pettibone got away with his own life at the ransom exchange location. He got there but he never saw them coming. His bulletproof vest saved his life as he lay on the ground after being shot. His money was gone and his wife was dead.

Two years went by as Gov. Pettibone went on with his life and memories. There was nothing left to do but go on. Life never does stand still. The business of governing had to proceed and Pettibone was still a very able man to do so. Certain laws and bills had to be passed in his state. One of these was about the DNA factor. It was to be used for the justification of the definite proof of crimes concerning condemned death row criminals.

The process began. One of the recipients happened to be Josh. The DNA test came back and it was revealed that Josh was innocent of the murders he was convicted of seven years prior. The state had convicted the wrong man. And as much as Pettibone regretted it, his pride would not let him admit that he was wrong. The proof was there and it was in that proof that the real killer was revealed. Pettibone’s stepson had committed this heinous crime. He had a record of violence in the past but was hidden by his mother and covered by the power of a governor. Everything was revealed but years had been stolen from an innocent man.

Pettibone was scandalized and was left with nothing but to serve the rest of his term with a terrible past and a very small future. However he knew he was going to have to make restitution in spite of making the biggest mistake as a prosecutor. There was no more room for pride. He eventually saw the light and came to himself and broke the chains of greed and pride.

Josh was finally set free. It was hard to forgive but the joy of being released after so many years of unjustifiable incarceration made it easier to forgive. A voice would always come to Josh in his cell that would tell him it was going to workout. And that voice was me. I was his ministering angel at that time with questions of my own.

Josh was a thankful soul who saw things differently now. He gave thanks for his life that was spared during all those years in prison. It almost sounds like a bad joke but it could’ve been worse. He decided to do something about the system with his remaining years on earth. He ran for mayor of the city and won the election. And to top that, he ran for Governor later in his life and won. He served well and made huge changes in the judicial and penal systems, which saved many lives that would have been condemned and forgotten.

It took a man like Josh who went down to the bowels of hell and came up to the level of a champion to make the changes that needed to be made. Did all things work together for good? Why did we need to suffer so? These were the questions that Josh had while he lay in his dying bed after an honest long life of service.

I woke him up and called his name and he knew why I was there. So I answered, “You are going to have the opportunity of asking Him all your unanswered questions, face to face. Don’t worry. It’ll be alright. He knew then and He will tell now.” Josh was welcomed home. When he arrived he was so overwhelmed that his questions were no longer important and everything was self-evident.
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